Read an Excerpt
We have focused much of our work in the past five years on
understanding wealthy individuals and luxury markets. We
have worked with companies such as Mercedes-Benz,
American Express, Cartier, Neiman Marcus, and many others.
In other words, we have worked with companies for
which luxury is not a preoccupation, but a passion. The same
search for extraordinary quality also defines our clients who
are not “luxury” providers, but are still exemplars of excellence
in their categories—companies such as Microsoft,
Coca-Cola, and Vitamix.
It is in passion, and with passion, that we find the
greatest opportunity to sell.
We know how hard the last four years have been. Many
have called it the Great Recession, with good reason, as it has
already been far longer and more severe than any economic
downturn since the Great Depression. Government economists
tell us it began in December 2007, but our research
identified spending cutbacks and an “emotional recession” as
early as mid-2006. As of the writing of this book in
September 2010, our research still suggests challenging times
ahead for sales professionals. Despite the government’s assertion
that the recession ended in June 2009, over 90 percent of
the affluent believe the recession still continues today, and
over 60 percent expect it to continue for more than a year—
attitudes that can easily become self-fulfilling prophecies.
Most have reduced their spending. “I’ll buy whatever I want”
has been replaced with “Let’s buy only what we need.” The
process has made them feel smart, not deprived, and most
expect to continue their newfound frugality and valueorientation
when and if the economy improves. The unfortunate
bottom line: Today’s economic challenges are unlikely to
resolve themselves easily, deeply, or soon.
We know it has been hard to make your numbers.
Challenge, as always, creates opportunities. The desire to
acquire runs deep in the human species, and despite their
heightened value-orientation, the affluent continue to shop,
particularly in categories they are passionate about.
Moreover, excellence is still valued. Despite the economy,
the affluent have been reluctant to trade down—their expecta-
tions about and desires for quality, craftsmanship, and service
have not diminished. Meanwhile, their expectations that
purchases be thoughtful and meaningful have risen.
This is a book about how to sell,
in these tough times, the very best things.
We wrote this book primarily for those engaged in faceto-
face selling of high-end products and services to financially
successful individuals. But it is also of interest to those
more tangentially related to that core mission, such as:
• Those who sell to the 90 percent who aren’t affluent.
• Those who sell nonluxury products.
• Sales managers whose charge is to hire, grow, and
retain top sales professionals.
• Advertising, marketing, and branding executives who
try to build customer relationships “from afar”—
through traditional and social media, through the
products they create, through the brands they develop,
through the retail experiences they design, through
the corporate culture they build, and through the sales
approach they instill directly and indirectly via hundreds
of management decisions daily.