Employer Insights 06.09.22 (Updated)

Smashing sales at L’Oréal | DebutLive

From building relationships with individual salons to negotiating with Tesco, Boots and more, sales at L'Oreal is as varied as its group portfolio.

Business consultant


Most of us have heard of L’Oréal, whether you’re involved in the beauty industry or not. The group is a powerhouse of the modern makeup, cosmetics, hair and skincare sector, owning a huge portfolio of internationally recognised brands. But, what exactly does a job at L’Oréal look like? And more specifically, what does a job in Sales at L’Oréal entail?

To provide the answers to these questions, we invited James Bullock, Business Development Category Manager, and Henry Cope, Commercial Graduate, on to DebutLive to reveal all about what the day-to-day life of a sales professional at L’Oréal looks like, plus the other paths on offer at the company. From building relationships with individual salons to negotiating with Tesco, Boots and more, sales at L’Oréal is as varied as its group portfolio.

In this short clip from the livestream, James and Henry discuss what it’s like to be a man working in the beauty industry. Don’t forget you can still watch the full video on the DebutLive tab of the app.

Unfortunately they didn’t have time to answer all the questions that came in during the livestream, so we caught up with James and Henry to get the answers for all the questions they couldn’t get round to:

How would you suggest students prepare themselves for a role they don’t have experience in?

Make sure you do as much research as possible, both online and speaking with anyone in person you know that has done that role. Make sure you gather as much information about it so you can be sure that is the right one for you.

Also, think about what transferable skills you have from other experiences that you can then talk about in your cover letter, use on your CV and discuss in an interview.

How important is it to keep up with trends in the industry, particularly with regards to those on social media?

The level to which you do this will very much depend on your role. For some, e.g Consumer Market Insights, Digital Marketing and Marketing, it is very important. For others it is less so.

However, no matter what function you end up being a part of it is always useful to keep up to date with your industry. This can help you understand how your function impacts the wider business.

Do you take applicants who do not have degrees but have years of experience?

For our experienced hire roles, yes. However for our Graduate, Industrial Placement and internship opportunities, you need to be studying or have completed a degree in order to be eligible to apply.

I’m currently in my second year and am preparing to apply for an Industrial Placement with L’Oréal. How much does L’Oréal promote growth and experience in new areas?

As an Intern you are automatically enrolled on our Internship Training Academy, which will provide you with soft-skill training such as time management, presentation skills, and how to give and receive feedback.

As part of this development programme you will also be invited to ‘Lunch & Learns’ where you can meet senior members of the business (outside of your current function or division) and discuss their roles.

You will also take part in ‘Careers Week’, during which you can shadow individuals in other functions and across different divisions.

Are there any graduate positions currently available for people what do not qualify for your industrial placements?

At L’Oréal we believe in developing our talent from the ground up, providing our employees with the opportunity to grow within the company and to build a career with us. This is why 100% of our Management Trainee roles are filled with individuals from our Apprenticeships, Industrial Placement, Summer Internships and Spring Insight Programmes, creating a well-rounded junior talent journey here at L’Oréal.

As such, I am afraid to say we will not be opening our Management Trainee Scheme Applications this year. However, we do have other entry level roles suitable for recent graduates available on our careers page.

L’Oréal has a range of values to support the vision of the company. If each of you could pick one value that stands out to you, which would it be and why?

James: For me, the global L’Oréal value that resonates most is ‘passion’.   It’s because of this that L’Oréal employs people who are 100% invested in every task that they complete.

It’s very rewarding to be around people like this day in, day out. I was once given an excellent piece of advice in the workplace: “Whatever you do, even if it’s not something you most enjoy, do it well and do it properly.”   The result is that we are constantly living up to our own high standards, improving and growing ahead of the competition.

Henry: For me the greatest value that L’Oréal supports is ‘entrepreneurial spirit’; allowing people of all levels to take on new and exciting projects.  At the same time, both success and failure of entrepreneurial spirit are supported equally – celebrating success whilst also learning from failure, which I think is a crucial value.

How diverse is your team at L’Oréal? Are you able to meet people you never thought you’d work with before?

One of the best things about L’Oréal is the diverse workplace. It brings a mix of cultures, outlooks, experiences, senses of humour, and the overall result is that every day we are encouraged to think broadly and with an open-mind.  I can think of at least 10 different nationalities within a 30 second walk from my desk.   It’s great to mix with such interesting people!

What is your highlight of working for L’Oréal?

Henry: If I had to pick one highlight of working at L’Oréal it would be the culture of ‘teams are the new heroes’ – both in the workplace and outside.

Success is always shared as well as failure, which makes for a much more productive team. At the same time it allows you to build important relationships within your own team and also the wider team outside the workplace as well as inside.

James, you spoke about your language skills and how English is the working language – do you ever get the chance to speak French?

I do have some opportunity to speak French, and that is because I make an effort to mix with colleagues who have French as a first language. But in every L’Oréal office globally the working language tends to be English.

For me, the most exciting thing about language skills is that it gives you an improved opportunity to work abroad.   Although you may not need to demonstrate foreign language skills to work in a foreign office, having the local language allows you to effectively and properly embed yourself into the culture. I think that one of the ways for us to become more globalised is through language and culture.

How does L’Oréal gather information about new emerging markets?

We have expert teams that sit in most countries looking for upcoming trends and reporting to their colleagues on how this may have an effect on foreign markets.

As an example, we see a lot of skincare and makeup trends coming from Asia at the moment, and L’Oréal has positioned itself locally to develop a thorough understanding of the new technologies and trends there. We have already seen big innovations make their way over here from a couple of years back.

What were the negotiations that occurred in the salons like, and what did you learn from them in terms of the industry?

The negotiations were different from the types of conversation that you would have with Superdrug, Tesco, or Boots, for example.

In the salons you deal directly with business owners; this person may have re-mortgaged their house to fund a business, so in a sense the stakes feel higher. This means that negotiations can be tough as you’re both pushing to get what you want, but for the other to also walk away happy.

In terms of learnings, definitely enhanced communication and interpersonal skills, as well as effective persuasion skills. These will stand you in strong stead in any workplace.

What do you feel has been your greatest achievement in the work you’ve done at L’Oréal?

Henry: My greatest achievement at L’Oréal was being the lead on the launch of a range of new products, from idea to in-store activation. This was something I never thought I would have the opportunity to carry out at such an early stage in my career.

It has helped me to understand and learn from the challenges of project management, whilst also being able to see my tangible work live in store.

How long do you work with a particular client for?

As we have mentioned, L’Oréal is the type of work environment that constantly pushes you to achieve more. As you walk into our office, we have ‘Nothing is impossible’ emblazoned over the back wall.   This means that we are constantly challenged in the workplace.

If you’re performing well and you show strong thought-leadership you may be moved onto a bigger or more strategically-important account more quickly. But, on average, it’s normal to work with one retail customer for 18 months, although you may take a new role with that same account as a step-up, or move to a new account; this depends on your personal development plan. Your manager and/or team director will build this with you based on your long-term career objectives.

What are the main skills required to succeed in business strategy? Are recruiters looking for project management skills and PM software knowledge?

Every leader will have a different view on how to succeed in business strategy, however the core L’Oréal drivers for success are as follows:

1) Strategic focus (planning and leadership)

2) Focus on our people (their learning and development)

3) Operations (smooth internal processes)

Project Management skills are definitely valuable for many roles, however not a prerequisite for the majority.

Is there much external work outside of the usual 9-5 working day?

Some days are definitely busier than others, and you can find yourself working outside of the typical 9-5 working day, however we operate a Work Smart policy.  Work Smart is about finding practical solutions to working patterns. It’s time to remove artificial measures of success, like time and attendance, and concentrate on results and performance.

How do you tackle competition within sales in the market?

Due to the diversity of the beauty market and extent of competition that L’Oréal faces, one of the key ways we try and tackle competition is by having a dedicated in-house team that are responsible for being experts in every category that we compete in.

This allows the sales team to stay in touch with current trends in the market and at the same time anticipating future trends, so that we can retain an advantage over our competitors.

Which part of your rotation did you enjoy the most?

Henry: For me it was the opportunity to try out different sectors of the wider L’Oréal business, working across very different product teams and also business functions such as Sales and Marketing.

Examples of this ranged from skincare marketing to designer fragrance sales and discounter sales teams, each offering new challenges.  This is something that very few places offer and it has allowed me to gain a wide breadth of skills and exposure to different retailers and organisations that support L’Oréal.

Are there any six month placements in the R&D sector?

Not in the UK, but there are opportunities in other countries. Placements are offered at varying lengths. To see what is available head to our careers website.

What impact will Brexit have on L’Oréal?

Brexit, as it is for everyone, is still a fairly unknown entity. However the UK, as L’Oréal group’s fourth largest subsidiary, will remain an important market for the company – both from a business point of view and in terms of its role in shaping the global beauty market.

Whatever the outcome of Brexit, the L’Oréal group have restated their commitment to its employees, partners and customers in the UK.

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