Even today’s most successful luxury companies need to attract new high-net-worth clients and marketing is not enough. However robust the business trend, sales with current clients are not the best predictor for future sales of its highest-end products.
Achieving consistent sales goals for a brand’s most coveted creations requires having an abundant pipeline of new, qualified clients that can counterbalance natural attrition.
Networking can fill this need. Networking goes beyond introducing products, allowing advisors to help prospects dream and develop a 1:1 connection to the brand in ways the company cannot. While networking has always been important, it has become more urgent for luxury retailers to develop their sales teams for the following reasons:
Don’t leave client acquisition to chance
1. Competition for the same high-net-worth clientele is intense and growing
Many luxury brands and advisors are creating experiences and events to attract clients that are competing to outdo one another. It’s gotten to the point where clients are expecting, and even demanding, gifts and experiences. Attraction vs. promotion builds stronger long-term relationships.
2. Fewer high-net-worth clients visit stores
Customer buying trends are changing and today’s highest-net-worth clients visit boutiques less frequently or not at all. This trend, which started before the pandemic, is increasing globally.
3. Reliance on existing customers
High-end clients often take a break after several years of purchasing big. Sales advisors are often blind-sided when clients’ lifestyles change — they purchase less or just stop buying. All too often, sales advisors rely on too few clients to achieve sales goals and therefore network less than they need to.
4. Networking for high-end clients can be intimidating and is often avoided
Even the best-performing sales advisors can be uncomfortable and lack confidence when networking with the ultra-wealthy in social situations.
5. The challenge of multiple generations
Sales advisors are often most comfortable networking among their own age group. This is often the challenge for the youngest and the most tenured advisors who need to find new clients among five generations of customers.
How Relationship FIRST™ Networking can predict success
At Shanker Inc., our networking strategies develop sales advisors to connect one-on-one and create a pipeline of high-net-worth clients that might otherwise not be introduced to your brand. Below are a select number of our insights:
1. Social acumen is the foundation for networking
Clients often don’t want to be sold in social situations. Today’s wealthy clients are more likely to engage and network with advisors with whom they share a mutual interest.
2. Inspire prospects to dream and create desire for the brand
Networking goes beyond introducing products and helps prospects dream and develop a connection to the brand while inspiring curiosity.
3. B2C AND B2B
Sales teams need to be equally strong at establishing B2B strategic alliances that will refer prospects. B2B networking requires business acumen to develop a win-win business case that is not necessary when conducting B2C networking.
4. Wealth is not the total picture
Unless sales advisors can identify specific clients who have a true interest in your brand, advisors risk networking with clients who are less likely to purchase.
5. Great networkers are developed, not born
It’s critically important to develop sales teams to successfully network. A positive intention is not enough. Sales teams today need to learn skills to host, attend internal and external events, create B2B relationships, and develop listening, empathy, and small talk skills to name a few.
Managers are the heart of networking
Although networking is necessary to maximize client acquisition, it’s often only a select few in a store who can successfully network at a high level. Pushing advisors to network before they are prepared is a mistake. Managers who develop advisors by networking together, and modeling the best skills and strategies, have the most success.
Adapting to today’s fast changing luxury clients is necessary to maximize sales. Shanker Inc.’s Relationship FIRST™ Networking Method prepares luxury sales teams to acquire clients they might otherwise not sell.
Martin Shanker is the founder and president of Shanker Inc., a New York-based global consultancy deploying its Relationship FIRST™ Method for luxury retailers and brands to develop their sales teams with a focus on neurosciences, emotional intelligence, and behavior-based training. Clients include Burberry, Cartier, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, LVMH, Lane Crawford, Tod’s and Van Cleef & Arpels. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org