Top 10 Reasons Luxury Brands Should Avoid Retail Sales Training

By Bob Phibbs

luxury retail sales brandRetail sales training may not be the best route to success for high-end, luxury brands.

Some brand managers would argue that their luxury brand salespeople enjoy a different dynamic, one that is not subject to the fundamentals of retail selling.

Here are 10 reasons:

Everyone is Already Familiar with the Brand – With a well-recognized name, you don't need to have your sales staff push the product; the product will just sell itself. You can dispense with salespeople altogether putting an emphasis on kiosks and iPads so customers can find what they need on their own.
No Need to Differentiate the ProductThe vast majority of customers already understand the difference between an original product and a similar, knock-off sold at a discount. There is no need to build rapport – just explain features like durability, functionality, innovation and warranties.

Quality SpeaksQuality is self-evident and doesn't need to be extolled. Luxury customers already understand that the lowest price item is never the best.

Ambiance SellsIt’s not the product, it’s the store design. Customer service comes in a distant second to the look and feel of a truly beautiful store. The ambiance of the colors, attractive displays and cutting-edge lighting can easily make up for a lack of skills in a retail sales person.

Consumers Know What They Want Luxury customers are very particular; they know precisely what they want. If you don’t have what they want, traditional selling techniques are a waste of time. Just let customers go somewhere else or online.

Upselling and Suggestive Selling is Passé In the luxury world, not asking a question can be far more powerful than trying to upsell. Suggesting additional options can be seen as too forward. People of means know more than the sales staff when they walk in the door and don’t require anything unless they ask.

There’s No Showrooming Most luxury shoppers, especially those in the younger demographics, wouldn't dream of using a smartphone to find a lower price – it is so déclassé - and, even if they did, there are no products that are as good as yours.

True Sales Skills are Innate Great salespeople are born and not created. It’s far easier to wait for a great salesperson to appear, like a needle in a haystack, and then pay them top dollar, than it is to develop every employee with proven retail sales skills. In addition, you don’t have to worry about a retail selling strategy, as the experienced pro will just do it a different way each time.

No Pressure is RequiredAs they say, “Good things come to those who wait.” With luxury customers, the question of a sale is not if they will buy, but when, so patience is what is needed until the customer waves their hand letting your staff know they are ready to be helped.

Luxury Customers Know The ScoreHigh-end customers have already proven that they know how the game is played. They expect to pay top dollar for no other reason than they are well-heeled. Don’t confuse them by having professional salespeople who strive to sell the premium merchandise.

In Sum

Yes, this post was tongue firmly planted in check. And yet, as I visit luxury boutiques around the world, it seems this is many brands’ modus operandi.

Maybe in Don Draper’s era, these attitudes were perfectly acceptable – even encouraged - but I would suggest the soft skills of retail sales have atrophied– especially at the high-end. You need to be memorable.

And even if you are doing fine, I ask you, how much money are you leaving on the table with each customer that exits your store?

If you think you can depend on customers to frequent your business and buy from you because that’s what they’ve always done in the past, I have news for you… the Dowager Countess of Grantham has left the building.

In luxury retail, it's no longer caveat emptor (buyer beware,) but caveat venditor (seller beware.)

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