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What Hair Care Taught Me About Cross Sell

Every couple of months, I bebop into a major beauty retailer to get my hair cut.

I really like my stylist. We always have nice chats and she’s good at cutting my hair. But she doesn’t have a great grasp on how my hair behaves day-to-day when I’m not in her fancy, pneumatic chair. That’s why I don’t love it when she inevitably tries to sell me the “product of the month.” 

Because I go to a national chain, they’re always making the stylists cross sell products from big brands the store carries. Stylists have to hype the product. To everyone. Even if they don’t actually recommend it. Short, long, thinning, curly, pink — it doesn’t matter what kind of hair you have, they’re going to try to sell you that product. 

Contrast that with the experience I get with the online startup where I buy my hair care supplies. I’ve never spoken to a single person who works for the company, but they know my hair better than my stylist.

When you first buy from them, you have to take an in-depth quiz. You provide information about your hair’s texture, your styling habits, and your #hairgoals. You tell them where you live and how often you work out; even what kind of diet you have. The company then takes all of this information and works some kind of data science magic to come up with truly personalized products. 

The company explains every ingredient that’s in your products and why they chose it. If something’s not right, they’ll tweak the formula until it’s perfect. And the cross sell . . .

‘We notice you usually use shampoo faster than conditioner. Do you need to re-up on just the ‘poo?’

‘It looks like it’s super humid in your zip code right now. Want to try this new anti-frizz serum?’

‘We just added a new article to our blog about fine hair. Want to check it out?’

Why, yes. Yes I do want all those things. How delightful. How did they know?

When the algorithm occasionally sends an off-beat message, I laugh and ignore it — silly technology. But when my stylist hawks a product she doesn’t really use, it undermines my confidence in her expertise.

If your bank relies mainly on its people to cross sell, remember that in-person doesn’t always mean personal. And if your people aren’t excellent at balancing sales goals with discretion, it could even be detrimental.

*Amber Buker, Director of Insights