In 1999 and 2000 one of the world’s most iconic luxury brands asked The Forum Partnership to help it train its sales associates who were finding it hard to resist customers’ requests to discount high ticket items. The business was suffering as a result and needed to take steps to help staff modify their behaviour.
It transpired that sales associates had no idea what to say when a client spending over £100,000 on a watch, for example, asked for discount. In many cases, clients actually told sales associates that a colleague in another branch was giving a discount and demanded that they matched or exceeded it.
The Forum Partnership researched and delivered two training initiatives that involved a play and interactivity between the audience of sales associates, with the action taking place on stage. The technique, known as Forum Theatre, enabled the associates to re-direct the action and even to step into it to see how changing language and behaviour might alter the outcome of a sales negotiation.
Using well-rehearsed business actors, who could improvise using the language of the luxury brand, The Forum Partnership clearly demonstrated how to impress on a client the value of an item and the value of the whole brand experience. It also changed embedded thinking in the minds of the sales associates. Rather than seeing discount as a right for wealthy clients, they were encouraged to view it as compensation for poor service. It followed that as they were giving an excellent service according to their training, there should be no reason to offer discounts.