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Excerp 3

Luxury means paying tribute to
customers seeking perfection from
creations while being waited on by
exceptional salespersons. Selling and
service are at the forefront of every
luxury brand. Selling is a professional
art, and only excellence is acceptable
from luxury sales staff. If you are seeking
enjoyment and fulfi llment, you should
consider becoming a salesperson in the
world of luxury.
—Michel Guten
President, Institut Supérieur de Marketing du Luxe;
Vice-President Délégué du Comité des Champs-Elysées;
Former CEO, Lancel;
Former Vice-Président, Cartier France
Part One: Initial Thoughts
Initial Thoughts

The publicity photograph in the magazine shows a stunning,
sensual, young woman with a top brand-name handbag on
her shoulder. The handbag is chic and beautifully designed.
While traveling into town, the potential buyer observes this
image and makes a mental note of the name of the impressive
She takes time during her lunch break to go to the boutique
located in an area where there are many other luxury brands.
There, in the window, is the same handbag, looking even more
appealing than in the advertisement.
The potential buyer does what many of us do when we see
something we want. She starts to justify why she should have
it. She fi nds at least half a dozen good reasons why she absolutely
needs, deserves, has to have that handbag.
She walks to the door to enter the boutique.
The next few minutes are crucial to the brand. The company
has spent time and money with marketing, designers,
craftsmen, and a variety of experts to choose the materials and
make the creation, not to mention logistics, packaging, quality
approval, testing, and the list goes on.
Now it is the Sales Ambassador’s turn. If he fails, everything
that has been done before has no meaning or purpose.
The Vital Role
of the Sales Ambassador
Initial Thoughts 3
Through the glass door the Sales Ambassador can see the
woman entering. Just as important as seeing her is understanding
that her expectations are extremely high. She has
already begun to have a strong desire to own the beautiful
piece. But when the contact is not at the right level, the bubble
can be easily burst. If she sees the brand as overpromising and
underdelivering, the magic fades.
The Sales Ambassador knows that it is essential to have a presence
and approach that is elegant but friendly, one that will
quickly put the woman at ease in the universe she is entering.
With a welcoming smile on his face, he approaches as the
doorman opens the door for the woman.
Customers expect service to be at the same level
as the creations brands are promoting.
4 Initial Thoughts
Initial Thoughts 5
For each contact with a customer, it is important to remember
that the Sales Ambassador is the brand for the customer. When
your demeanor invokes positive feelings in the customer, the
chances for completing a successful sale are increased. The
better the customer feels about the entire process, the stronger
the possibility of completing the sale will be. The term
“Ambassador” is important here. The Sales Ambassador truly
represents the brand.
When a contact is negative, the whole brand is seen as negative.
Consider the Sales Associate who becomes exasperated
or indifferent with a customer, who in turn then leaves angry
and/or disappointed. The Sales Associate was the brand for
the customer, a brand that has failed in her eyes.
Upstream, a great deal of energy and work has been put into
bringing the creations to the customer. When bearing in mind
just the designing, creating, marketing, and communication
required up to this point, Sales Ambassadors understand how
critical their role is in the whole process.
The Sales Ambassador’s positive role is essential for the brand.
If the creation does not sell, the whole process grinds to a
In the eyes of the customer, the
Sales Ambassador is the brand
Sales Ambassadors have a vital role to play in
the brand’s success.
6 Initial Thoughts
Where does loyalty come from? From trusting someone. There
can be no loyalty without trust. Trust is something that is built
with each contact: “I can trust this person a little more.”
Therefore the opportunity of building trust with someone
begins by putting that person at ease right from the fi rst contact.
Is this contact with the Sales Ambassador honest and
sincere? How does the Sales Ambassador show that she really
cares about the person? Could other helpful advice be shared?
Helping customers fi nd what they want and providing solutions
for their needs are both parts of building trust and
There are fewer things more fragile than trust. Although it
may develop little by little over a period of time, it can be shattered
with one blow. One contradiction, one insincere comment,
one dishonest, or even seemingly dishonest situation,
can destroy in a moment a trust that has been meticulously
built over time.
Sales Ambassadors know that loyalty is the key to long-term
success. They make sure that trust remains something that is
built over time, and that any possibility of trust being broken
is eliminated.
Loyalty begins
with the fi rst contact
Building trust is the best way to build loyalty.
Initial Thoughts 7
It’s almost too simple. It closely resembles the old Golden Rule:
“Do unto others. . . .” Sales Ambassadors start with their own
personal impressions. They evaluate the service they receive in
situations all the time.
Here are some of the frequent responses that people give when
asked the question “Why are you loyal to certain places?”
“They remember my name.”
“The Sales staff is never pushy.”
“I feel good when I enter.”
“It is a positive experience. Even if I do not buy, people
are glad to see me and help me.”
“The staff is honest and sincere.”
“The Sales Ambassador sent me a ‘thank-you’ note.”
Customers will also reveal the way they like to be treated.
We all have different preferences for how we want to be
approached. Sales Ambassadors observe and analyze behaviors.
For example: “Is this someone who likes to be left alone
for a while or who would prefer more immediate assistance?”
The ability to have a fl exible and adaptive style is essential in
building customer relationships with a variety of people.
The strength of a brand and the quality of its creations do of
course play a role. But much more derives in large part from
the quality and service given by the Sales Ambassador.
Keep in mind how
you like to be treated
How do you like being treated?
Develop an adaptable approach.
8 Initial Thoughts
There are customers
behind customers
When people shop, they are often searching for something
that goes beyond minimum expectations. They may want
more than simply to go to a place displaying objects. When
they shop, they want an experience.
Years ago, a hairdresser we know had a very good experience at
a luxury jeweler’s. A bracelet given to her by her grandmother
needed repairing. While she was there, the Sales Ambassador
let her try on a beautiful diamond ring. There was no attempt
to sell it to her. It was just for fun, the pleasure of seeing it on
her fi nger.
Eight years later, she still tells this story. For eight years she has
sent hundreds of customers to the jeweler. Once the contact
became an enjoyable experience, she became an Ambassador
of the brand.
A strange story? Of course not. It happens every day, all over
the world. It happens with every pleasant experience. People
remember the pleasure. When you make customers’ visits
metamorphose into experiences, they, in turn, give you access
to their network. They happily share their positive experiences
with people they meet and know.
The Sales Ambassador understands that there is more to a successful
sale than having the customer make a purchase. Each
customer visit is seen in the long term, opening the door to
other opportunities for the customer to return and share the
experience with family, friends, and colleagues.
Develop your network fast through making
each customer contact an experience.
Initial Thoughts 9
The incredible loss from
one lost customer
Losing a customer means more than losing one person. It
also means losing access to their universe and the people they
know. In other words, their network is no longer available to
A customer goes away dissatisfi ed because of a poor welcome
and unacceptable service. If his children, parents, colleagues at
work, friends, people he plays sports with, or even someone he
meets at a conference somewhere needs something you could
supply, he won’t suggest going to see you.
But it is worse than just cutting you off from dozens of good
contacts and potential customers. Unhappy lost customers,
even the ones who do not complain directly to you before
leaving, will spread negative information about the poor service
they received.
When one customer leaves unhappy,
you lose dozens of contacts and opportunities.
10 Initial Thoughts
The emotional side
of the purchase
When considering a person’s buying habits, it is important to
understand why certain creations, which obviously go beyond
their functionality, are being purchased.
People don’t buy a sports car to get from A to B, a luxury
watch to know what time it is, or a beautiful hand-stitched
travel bag because they have things to carry.
If they simply wanted to get from A to B, they would drive any
car or take public transportation. If they just wanted to know
what time it was, they could buy an inexpensive watch. If they
only wanted to carry things, they could use a plastic bag.
They buy these objects because design and style have an
uplifting impact on their lives. People feel the pleasure that
comes from owning and being in contact with the quality and
beauty of the creation.
Customers also want to make a statement about who they are
and show their tastes. At times, they make purchases to be
seen as belonging to a certain group. Other times, the reason
can be distinctly the opposite, they want their purchase to set
them apart from everyone else.
A Sales Ambassador’s role is to understand that customer
requests are more than the mere functionality of an item. A
gentleman once purchased a necklace for the simple pleasure
of having it on display in his living room as a work of art.
When the Sales Ambassador moves into the realm of dreams
and emotions, the exchanges that take place in this universe
are very different.
Go beyond functionality. Be a dream seller.
Initial Thoughts 11
The island vacation
or the earrings?
Sales Ambassadors understand that they are competing against
a variety of choices, including the possibility that the person
may not buy at all. Competition is everywhere. Take travel
agencies and the possibilities of a vacation as an example.
A couple has been together for fi ve years and they are now
thinking very seriously about how to celebrate their upcoming
wedding anniversary. They visit a travel agency to obtain information
about taking an island vacation—two weeks off, lie in
the sun, and just relax together. Because they both work, they
could use the rest.
Early one evening, they are out walking and stop to look in a
window of a well-known brand’s boutique at a beautiful pair
of earrings. The woman cannot hide how much she likes them.
Her grandmother (whom she adored) had a similar pair.
The next day, the man decides to visit the boutique. He and
his wife are hesitating on whether they should really take two
weeks off. Maybe it would be a better idea for him to buy
his wife those lovely earrings and then take her out to a nice
restaurant. The price? Well, it’s pretty much the same. As he
walks into the boutique, in his mind he cannot help thinking
“The vacation or the earrings?”
In the boutique, the salesperson does not take him seriously.
She does little to welcome him and nothing to fi nd out why
he is interested in the earrings. The man soon has the impression
that he is unwelcome. He is treated so poorly that he feels
uncomfortable and leaves the boutique.
The following week, the couple fl ies off to their island vacation.
Remember, you could be competing with
a travel agency.
12 Initial Thoughts
The price is only one
of the factors
One of the key points that all Sales Ambassadors understand is
that price is only one of the reasons people buy.
But forget Sales Ambassadors for a moment and ask yourself
the question “Do I always go to the cheapest place to eat, buy
the cheapest clothes, use places that offer the cheapest services?”
The answer is, of course, no, you don’t.
And why not? Because buying and selling is more complex
than just what the price says. You go someplace because that
“something else” is happening there. There is an energy; there
are good quality offers in both creations and services.
This does not mean that price-oriented people will not come
to shop at your place. But if they have only come to you for
the price, then they will leave for the price, as soon as they fi nd
cheaper somewhere else.
Offer them the best service you can and avoid lowering the
price. When you do give a lower price, you undervalue the
quality, the savoir-faire, and the image of the brand.
Impeccable personalized service
justifi es the price.
Initial Thoughts 13
The “Wow” comes when
you go beyond expectations
Along with being consistent, Sales Ambassadors look for ways
to deliver a delightful and unexpected level of service. They
are constantly fi nding ways to create an unforgettable experience
with each customer. Often, it is the little things that
make this happen.
Some examples:
F While visiting India, a Sales Ambassador brings back a
special package of the customer’s favorite tea.
F An after-sales service center that fi lls a rush order so that
the customer can take the piece with her on a trip.
F The delivery of a gift that would normally not be available
for an anniversary, but because of exceptional service,
arrives just in time.
F A restaurant owner who offers without charge photographs
of customers celebrating an event.
F A luxury hotel that prints complimentary business cards for
their guests with their name and contact numbers at the hotel.
Everyday opportunities exist to create an unforgettable
moment, so that customers share with others the incredible
service they received.
“You won’t believe what happened to me! I was in
(the name of a boutique), and the Sales Ambassador . . .”
followed by the story of their astonishing experience.
To create the “Wow,” exceed expectations
every time.
14 Initial Thoughts
and confi dentiality
A customer who has established a person-to-person contact
with a Sales Ambassador wants conversations and purchases
to be kept confi dential. The longer a Sales Ambassador knows
a customer, the more the customer will share with him. This
information, sometimes very personal, is given because trust
has been established between both parties.
We mentioned earlier how fragile trust is. Discretion on the
part of the Sales Ambassador is essential in maintaining the
relationship. Along with personal information, purchases
should also be kept confi dential. Beyond the obvious security
issue, in particular with high-priced creations, the question of
who the purchase was made for could be very sensitive. A Sales
Ambassador might be told one thing, whereas something else
Customers dislike fi nding out that there were conversations
about them behind their backs. They begin to doubt and
wonder what was actually said. So when the opportunity to
divulge something about Mr. X’s purchase last week and how
much his wife is going to like it comes up, the Sales Ambassador
simply makes it perfectly clear that discretion is one of
the rules of the house.
What else is the Sales Ambassador saying when she does not
gossip about another customer? She is telling those doing the
asking that she will also be discreet about them. Customers
know that if there is talk and gossip about others, then they
will be talked about as well.
Building long-term relationships requires
Initial Thoughts 15
Story 1
A businessman had been coming to the luxury Japanese
hotel for more than a decade. Every year he booked one of
the prestigious rooms at two different times during the year,
meaning that he stayed 30 days per year in the hotel and also
used their spa facilities. The gentleman was well known by
many of the staff who greeted him by his name. For a special
occasion, the VIP customer booked a table for several of his
closest friends for a dinner party. The evening was wonderfully
run, the food delicious. But when the guests left after
thanking their host, they were each billed for parking their car
in the hotel ’s parking lot. One friend happened to mention
this to the host a few days later. The VIP customer called the
hotel to fi nd out why they were billed, and happened to have
someone on the telephone who did not recognize who he
was. “Sir, we are only following policy and when people use
our parking, they are charged for it!”