Making product sales work for you

September 1, 2007

Skincare product sales can be a natural fit for dermatologists, and patients need more guidance than ever in navigating the sea of cosmetic products. Here are some important guidelines to follow when venturing into the sales side of skin.

Key Points

National report - Dermatologists who sell skincare products find themselves entering the awkward realm of marketing, and their decisions can be complicated if they adopt a strict policy of only selling products behind which they firmly stand.

But such an addition to the business - when embraced with the best interests of the patient at heart - can significantly boost patient satisfaction, while helping a practice to grow.

Selling products can be particularly useful for dermatologists who want to test the waters of the cosmetic field, providing important patient feedback and the chance for the staff to "try on" the new identity.

"That was one of the first things we started to do in my office before I did many procedures, and it certainly is one of the easiest ways to make a smooth entry without huge expenditures," he tells Dermatology Times.

"Additionally, it is a fun way for the staff to get involved in a new direction for the practice," he says.

For many dermatologists, dispensing skincare products is only a natural extension of dermatologic care, and it's an important component in the practice providing cosmetic procedures, says Patricia Farris, M.D., a Metairie, La., dermatologist who also provides products for patients.

"Dispensing products gives you a platform upon which you can discuss cosmetic procedures that will enhance the overall appearance of your patients," she says.

Making cosmetics work for you

Most patients already use cosmetic products before seeing a dermatologist, so products already play an important role - for better or worse - in the course of care right from the start.

"Every cosmetic consult that I do includes a discussion on what products that patient is using," Dr. Farris says. "It's the first thing I ask a patient when we begin the discussion of how to improve their skin. I explain to them that cosmeceuticals can really improve their skin, provided they are well formulated and contain actives that really work."

Dr. Farris says she tries to use only products with sound scientific studies to back them. Dr. Schlessinger says that's the critical factor in dispensing skincare products.

"The most important thing is to be true to yourself," he says. "If you don't see a benefit for a particular product, no amount of profit will ever make it right to sell it, and your patients won't like it, either.

Start with your preferences

In determining which products to pick, Dr. Schlessinger says he relies heavily on his own or his staff's preferences.

When bringing in a line of products, be selective and start slowly, he suggests.

"The worst thing to do is to bring on too many products at once. You and your staff will never feel right about them, and they will languish on the shelves," Dr. Schlessinger says.