Figuring out what to say—and what not to say—to your best luxury client takes the diplomacy of a secretary of state, the directness of an attorney and the savvy of a publicist.
That's an intimidating set of criteria for an entrepreneur. It may seem easier to bite your tongue. But our experts suggest that certain things should not be left unsaid. They share three phrases you might hesitate to say but that can bring your high-end business big changes if you open your mouth and are careful.
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Phrase: "Don't focus on closing the deal."
Why you haven't said it: It sounds insane. It has the potential to make you appear as if you don't understand business, to make you seem naïve and unaware that business is about the bottom line. After all, "always be closing," is the mantra of every salesman.
Why you should say it: Of course you want your client to make a sale. But real luxury customers want an experience that is "more interactive rather than transactional," says Ken Nisch of Michigan design and branding firm JGA. "You want to create an ongoing/evergreen relationship, to have a clientele verses just a customer."
To do that, he says, you should cultivate relationships where you learn what a customer likes and wants, what his or her motivations are for buying a high-end product. Take a work of art, for example. The purchase of art is not merely transactional. "The entrepreneur has the ability to tell a story and help the customer understand why they want to be part of that story."
Related: Selling in the New Luxury Market: It’s All About the Mustard
Phrase: "Get off social media."
Why you haven't said it: It makes you sound like you are out-of-date.
Why you should say it: "Truly affluent shoppers aren't constantly on Facebook and Twitter," says Thomaï Serdari, PhD, adjunct professor of marketing at the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University. "They have other people to do that for them. Luxury marketers need to invest in traditional advertising." It is true, she says, that younger audiences are tech savvy, but she says companies shouldn’t assume that younger affluent consumers aren't interested in traditional advertising.
Related: How Online Direct Sales Saved This Luxury Business
Phrase: “What next?”
Why you haven't said it: You've wanted to focus on the first sale, not the consumer behavior after it has been made.
Why you should say it: Luxe business is hard to earn, so you’ll want to be proactive to meet and anticipate your customers’ future needs. Since high-end consumers can be finicky about the information they share, highlight personal service you can offer in your follow-up, says Jennifer Lazarus, president of LazBro, a Los Angeles-based digital marketing firm. For instance, a jeweler who sells luxury watches might send along an email about its free personal shopping service, asking about important birthdates and anniversaries and interests so that it can send targeted email reminders about special events, sales or gift suggestions.