a word on Selling:
Any good salesperson will tell you: “it’s not about what you say…it’s HOW you say it.” That is truly the point of this assault on what most of us believe is our truer sense to heal the world, one body at a time, as massage practitioners.
There is a time in the practice of our profession when a transaction becomes part of what we do when we get someone on our massage table. Whether it is for a monetary transaction, an emotional transaction, or a karmic sale that we complete, the sale of a massage therapy session takes place.
I recently had the pleasure of re-joining my alma mater’s faculty and am again doing what I love: teaching. Specifically, teaching professional development curricula to budding massage therapist students, and I see the value in what I do as assisting clients that I will never see, never meet, and never touch.
One of the most important things that a massage therapy professional can achieve is not to “be professional”, be a good business person, or even be a “good” massage therapist. I believe it is to accurately and compassionately convey the value of massage therapy based on their own beliefs. When a practitioner can do that successfully, the sale of a massage therapy session is a matter of fact.
Educate the Client…
The word ‘education’ is a pretty soft word. There is an understanding that information may or may not be transferred efficiently, effectively, or at all…or be accepted likewise. There is a responsibility in the delivery, content, and testing of the educator…just as with sales: the introduction, listing the benefits/values of the product/service, and the close/delivery/follow-up.
When I refer to what a professional does, it is not so much as “represents” or “professes” the nature or benefits of massage, but more succinctly: what the massage therapist believes. Of course, what a practitioner believes is not always what they are told are the benefits of massage…or should be. Testing, trying, and being aware of benefits outside of the massage therapy session can become the crux of how massage therapy clients are educated.
When educating our clients, again, it is not just about the physical, emotional, or spiritual benefits of manipulation of their tissues – it can include (which is often overlooked) the VALUE of massage therapy. But how do practitioners create value in massage therapy?
When it comes to running a massage business or practicing massage, it is a common misnomer and not-as-effective-choice to FIRST put a monetary value on the transaction. “Am I charging too much? How can I get more clients…with a “special”? Should I have a sliding scale? Can I pass out business cards at this volunteer massage event?” are just a few of the questions that may come up where monetary value is concerned. All valid questions, but at what point is the education of the client based on getting them on the table?
Is the transaction put at risk (in the long term) if the basis of the education is established FIRST in the monetary value of the massage session? My answer is: Yes. The interest of a client who does not innately see an intrinsic value in the massage therapy session – based on the massage professional’s affinity for massage – will likely peter off into disinterest.
How do we get and keep the interest and the investment of the client in our practice? How do we drive the client to see the value in massage therapy, beyond the physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits? I believe it is to educate them about our own beliefs and hopes for and to illustrate the functional unit of therapeutic massage:
- Stay up on the latest massage therapy information in your community (scientific and anecdotal),
- Keep informed about the most recent, global massage therapy theories, research, and practices,
- Immerse ourselves in our passion, our focus, and our profession – through our own continuing education, associations, and speaking our Vision for our practices, amongst ourselves and anyone who will listen – without promise of remuneration.
Educate our clients about all of these things, on a regular basis, about how WE see massage and value it – SHOW our motivation, CREATE some excitement. People are attracted to passion, enthusiasm, and general happiness. It is what they desire…to replace any degree of pain, disappointment, and lack of touch therapy somewhere in their own lives or histories.
…Sell the Service
If you have it to give, give it. If you have it to sell to them in a recognized, trustworthy format – like on a menu of services – for goodness sake: do not undermine your client-education efforts by relegating the “sales” of massage to some disdainful, disgusting act that only applies to people who purvey automobiles. Sell with pride – realize that they will accept either the blue pill or the red pill, and it is the “pill” that is the vehicle by which they will receive the value of your service.
I am soooooo excited to see student practitioners’ whose light bulbs go on: when they realize that what they are selling is not massage, but themselves. I, too, need to revisit this thought process from time to time, and also realize: we enliven each other’s practices by finding new ways to create value for massage therapy. I find value in their enthusiasm and their stories of “why massage is important to me.” When they can educate their client about “why massage is important to me,” then the light bulb of getting a client on the table AND “making a sale” turns on…and they gain a loyal client and a customer!