When your company sells a luxury product or service, it changes how you should approach the sale. Selling these items is less about price and more about the experience surrounding a luxury purchase.
“Customers at the highest luxury levels are more interested in having fun and enjoying spending their money while acquiring something they want, something that serves their own passion,” says Llewyn Jobe, Sales Manager at Bentley Beverly Hills. “We don’t sell anything anyone needs — basic transportation can be purchased anywhere. It’s about an experience.”
Smart Business spoke with Jobe about lessons he’s learned selling Bentley motor cars that apply to other luxury products and brands.
What are some challenges that come with selling luxury items?
It’s a challenge to make everything an indulgent, luxurious experience. Customers want to connect and feel at ease when they come in to spend a substantial amount of money, so the transaction needs to go seamlessly without too much anxiety over pricing and negotiating.
How can you produce good customer service, which is so central to success?
Without good customer service, there are no referrals or repeat business. The people selling the product drive the customer service experience. The sales staff needs to show passion and be informative when selling to clients; it should be fun and exciting for everyone involved. Stay in touch with your customers, or potential customers, and build a relationship by following up and staying current. Maintaining good customer follow-up comes from the productive use of a customer management database. Work through your database and keep clients and prospective clients up-to-date about upcoming new model premieres or special leasing promotions. That’s the best way to stay in touch — you’re not bothering people but informing them about something they’ve already expressed interest in. Additionally, giving appropriately branded gifts is a good marketing tactic and shows appreciation to the people spending their time with you, whether they buy or not.
What are some best practices?
Use marketing that’s clever and tasteful to both new and existing customers. It’s easy to reach out to previous customers, but how do you expand beyond your existing client base? The initial customer contact, whether through marketing or customer service, is critical. For us, part of our success derives from our location in Beverly Hills, where luxury is part of the community. However, you cannot take success for granted; you have to ask yourself, ‘How can we become better to surpass our own performance?’
Customers want to feel welcome in a comfortable setting. It’s an art to take people through the numbers of any particular transaction and get them to understand, without being too pushy. Then, it becomes more about sharing the experience and building the relationship.
If a customer asks, ‘Why should I pay so much money for X?’ What do you say?
Customers will say, ‘I can get this same car with similar miles for less.’ Well, yes, that’s commerce. But, here you get a relationship with your purchase that enhances your ownership experience. You may be able to buy this product for less somewhere else, but you’re not getting us with it.
And, that’s only comparing apples to apples. If you’re trying to bring in a new client from a lesser luxury brand, you can tell them, ‘You’re spending this kind of money because you want to be distinguished; you’re looking for an experience that’s above all experiences you’ve ever had.’
The relationship becomes more important the higher a luxury item is priced. People expect it.
How can businesses overcome post-recession hesitancy to spend money?
In 2009 and 2010, people were worried what others thought. There was caution about spending money and about what that stood for while so many had been hit by the recession. However, we’re pushing past that.
When it does come up, it’s important to let the customer know that it’s OK to spend the money, take action and enjoy their life. There’s nothing bad about it — that’s what luxury is all about.
Llewyn Jobe is sales manager at Bentley Beverly Hills, O’Gara Coach Company. Reach him at (310) 967-7124 or [email protected]
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