Subtle Persuasion and Influence Technique in Luxury Sales
Teams of 6 and Above
This course is not available for individual registration
Emotion Drives Behaviour
People buy luxury for many reasons. Quality, craftmanship and the best materials are certainly important elements, but primarily people buy luxury because of how it makes them feel.
That feeling can be a sense of accomplishment or it could be the feeling of belonging to an exclusive group, it could be social status or it could be the feeling of acceptance and self-esteem. Whatever the reason, these underlying emotions drive behaviour.
These emotions, these feelings that drive those who buy luxury are what the Luxury Expert must learn to read and interpret in order to guide and predict the behaviours that create buying patterns.
The real luxury expert is not just an expert on luxury products, brands and lifestyles, they are experts in human behaviour and creating desire in their clients.
In this module, we will explore the delicate balance of building the skill of being tactful, while embracing the philosophy of being diplomatic. Tact is a self-awareness skill. And diplomacy is a mindset that involves the people around you.
Tact is used with those we will build a long-term relationship with clients whom we know will return and be clients for life. Diplomacy on the other hand is used in situations where the likelihood is that we will never see the client again.
A regular client is trying to pair a new menu with a wine list but is getting it completely wrong. This situation requires the luxury expert to tactfully navigate the situation without embarrassing the client or appearing to look down on the client’s apparent lack of knowledge.
Contrary popular belief, suggestion is not about giving a client several options and suggesting the best one for them. This is called comparative selling and it’s a technique used in the mid-market. An example of this would be a choice of six, six different prices, the salesperson suggests the middle tier. This doesn’t work in luxury.
Suggestion and influence are cognitive behaviours which come from expected responses. If a shy person expects that a glass of wine will make them behave in a more outgoing and less inhibited manner, they attribute their confidence to the glass of wine. Even if they are handed a glass of wine, which don’t realise is without alcohol, the expected or suggested cognitive response is the same. This is also sometimes called the placebo effect.
In luxury sales, taking a client to a VIP area can create the suggestion of an important client with a great deal of money to spend, coupled with a glass of champagne to suggest a relaxing, happy, fun activity. Both together will trigger the behavioural response they expect. A fun time buying expensive items because they’re a well-regarded VIP.
Reading non-verbal markers is not about body language 101. Most things taught in standard body language training done by training companies are wrong. Folded arms rarely mean closed off and most other things taught rarely mean what are taught either.
Non-verbal markers are subtle, almost invisible and always involuntary signals. If the luxury expert wants to know the clients budget, they will use and read non-verbal markers to determine it without asking the question.
A jewellery expert will take three pieces, in three price points and say “Let me show you three pieces I personally love, that will enhance your collection [A] at £400, [B] at £2,000 [C] at £6,000, these are all perfect.
The client will do three things, (1) have no reaction to the item at the bottom of their price point, (2) involuntarily and imperceptibly move forward or shift at their price point and (3) involuntarily ignore the piece outside their price point.
Their eyes will also rest a split second longer on the item that sits comfortably within their budget, even though it may not be the first item they pick up. These are called markers and they are a language all of their own.
Conversational observation goes hand in hand with non-verbal markers. The luxury expert will broach topics of conversation to get a better understanding of the client’s needs and social circle.
An example would be, whilst showing a suggested piece to a client, the luxury expert says “we’re so lucky to have this one, there were only 500 produced, the only other person to have this in their collection in London is Kirsten Rausing.
An imperceptible upward movement of the brow tells the luxury expert that the client is familiar with the person and knows them personally.
A direct look up with a verbal response such as “really” suggests being impressed and so tells the luxury expert they do not know the person but are familiar and somewhat impressed. A quick upward eyebrow flash shows jealousy and annoyance and tells the luxury expert that owning this piece would be a jealousy buy.
Conversational observations when managed with intent can reveal elements about the client that they would otherwise be unwilling to divulge.
Trust is the single most important factor when selling luxury. It is the foundation on which every single relationship is built by the luxury expert.
To establish trust the first thing the luxury expert must do is to be liked. Likability is the cornerstone, and it has very little to do with chirpy sales pitches or telling people to have a nice day. That isn’t likability, those are pleasantries.
The fastest way to likeability and to break down a trust barrier is to use the eyebrow flash. A rapid up and down movement of the eyebrow when seeing the client for the first time. This rapid movement triggers the “I know you” response in the client and it speaks directly to the limbic system whilst bypassing the neo cortex (logical mind).
Try it with a complete stranger and it is guaranteed they will return the gesture, wave to you or stop.
Building rapport is the basis for all effective communication. Rapport lowers trust barriers and heightens access to the friend zone with clients. We buy from experts, but we trust friends.
There are many methods to rapport building, the most common being mirroring and matching. That doesn’t mean copying everything the client does, that’s creepy rather than effective. Many training courses that try to teach this tell participants to copy the client, if they put an elbow on the table, you do the same and so forth. Also creepy.
More effective ways to mirror and match is using breathing rhythm and tonality. Learning to match a clients breathing rhythm, their voice decibel and their tone is more impactful and less obvious.
Building rapport also involves matching non-verbal responses and displaying trust markers.
NLP or Nero Linguistic Programming is a popular subject amongst sales trainers. It suggests that the words we use impact behaviour. NLP is widely discredited as pop psychology amongst psychologists.
Psycholinguistics on the other hand is a genuine branch of psychological science which looks at language and the impact it has whilst being processed by the brain. Every client speaks a language unique to them, even though many speak the same basic language, for example English, how each individual speaks English is different and based on things like upbringing, past experiences, family, career and social circle.
So, the language the luxury expert uses is an important part of influence and persuasion. We start by replacing rejection words, or words that trigger a negative buying response.
Replacing Cost or Price with “Investment”
Replacing Buying with “Own”
Replacing Selling with “Helping you acquire”
Same thing, same meaning, different cognitive behaviour response.
Reciprocity is a social construct within social psychology. It is a social norm ingrained in everyone since early childhood that when someone does something nice for you, you do something nice for them. It starts early, little Johnny gets invited to little Barry’s birthday party and so little Johnny must then invite little Barry to his party.
Someone smiles at you in the street, you smile back. A stranger says Hi, you say Hi, a client says Hello, you will say Hello.
Reciprocity is also a behavioural expectation. If we give a friend a birthday gift, we expect one in return (even if we tell ourselves we don’t, we do).
In luxury sales, reciprocity is not about free gifts or free samples, but it is about behavioural expectation. Inviting clients to dinner or to an exclusive VIP client evening creates a sense of obligation which in turn creates a buying behaviour pattern.