Mention sales or selling to some people and watch them cringe. Sales people get a bad rap, and in some cases, it’s justified. Nobody likes a pushy sales person, especially when it’s clear the goal is meeting quota at the expense of your needs. But the fact is that as the owner of a spa or massage practice, even you can’t get around sales, even if you prefer to call it “business development.”

To feel comfortable about selling, you need to understand that there truly is a value to the sales process. In “Sales is Not a Dirty Word,” Nancy Myrland marketing professional writes, “Selling is a natural extension of a conversation you have with a potential client If you learn to ask questions and sincerely listen to the answers, then follow up with solutions or ideas that fit what you’ve just heard, you never have to worry about closing the deal.”

The more you know about the needs of a prospect or of a client who may be looking for additional services – body treatments to complement a massage, for example – the better able you are to make suggestions that may just fit the need. Besides asking questions and listening, here are other things you can do to become more comfortable about selling and better at it.

Communicate Frequently

You don’t have to wait to meet face-to-face with a client or prospect to start the selling process. Leverage your social media channels to describe your services and even retail products and talk about treatment results. If possible, use client quotes to validate your successes. Ask questions to discover more about client needs. In addition to social media, use email marketing to announce new offerings and promotions. And make it easy for clients to get in touch by phone, text or via your website by providing a contact form to ask questions. By the time you have a ‘real time’ conversation; you may be close to booking the appointment or making product sale.

Be Helpful

Remember your clients are seeking help whether it’s therapeutic massage or massage that also protects and repairs the skin. Every time you interact with your clients be empathetic about their problems and offer advice. Even become a source of referrals to other providers if the needs require it – a chiropractor, nutritionist, occupational therapist and so forth. Clients remember you for being concerned about their well-being. By being a trusted professional, you reputation will grow and so will your client base.

Reinforce Your Brand

Every touch point with a client should reinforce what your spa or massage practice stands for – from the first call into your business, to their time in the treatment room, to the purchase of an at-home product and finally to rebooking.

Seek Introductions

Don’t wait for referrals, seek introductions. Ask your clients if any of their friends, business associates or family members are seeking the types of services you offer. Include prospects in your email marketing – though you need to be sure to have an ‘opt out’ capability. You might want to consider having an open house so your clients can ‘bring a friend’ to find out what your spa or massage practice has to offer.

The key to selling is to keep in mind that it doesn’t have to ‘feel’ like selling. Being interested, helpful and involved will have new clients walking in your door.