A Guide To Sales Techniques Used To Sell Wedding Dresses
Positive closing, this is when they use phrases like "when you buy the dress" instead of "if you buy the dress". Basically presuming you have already decided in their favour when in fact you are still thinking about it.
Making you panic slightly. " You have 8 months before your wedding, you'd better make your mind up quick or you won't be able to get anything" . Don't worry, they say the same thing to everybody and in any case a sentence such as this is usually followed by some reassuring statement such as "but of course we do our best to accommodate you". The panic technique must not be overdone otherwise buyers see through it.
Echoing. When you are asked about the "look " of your wedding they will listen to the words you used to describe it and these words will be repeated back to you as they sing the praises of a particular dress.
Repeating the brand name over and over, This is supposed to create a feel of exclusivity which justifies the prices.
Ego massage, Need I say more? "Darling, you are soooo gorgeous etc." It's the oldest trick in the book but it always works.
Acting like your best friend, This would be pretending to be very excited when you talk about your wedding plans. They have heard it all before and will have forgotten all about you within a week.
Overcoming objections, It's basically having a ready answer for every possible doubt you might have, e.g. if you don't like the beading you'll be told that it's not important, people won't be looking at that and to concentrate on the overall look of the dress. Actually, if you are spending£1000 you have to be absolutely happy with every detail. This technique is used more extensively during the second appointment when you are expected to buy and you are likely to have other people with you who might influence your final decision. Sales assistants dread large groups because they are more difficult to control.
Comparing and Eliminating, This technique is used to make you focus on what you like or don't to steer you towards one dress if you are undecided. For example if you like a strapless, A line dress you will try on a princess line with straps first followed by an A line with straps, followed by an A line without straps. By eliminating the princess line for example, the competitor's princess line is also eliminated. Again, it's used more extensively during a second appointment when the sales assistant is under more pressure to sell. The point to all this is to reiterate how you came to choose a particular dress and it creates a sense of anticipation/excitement in the people accompanying you. It's a performance which runs along very precise lines and there will be no quick slipping into your possible choice of dress just to show your mother or friends.
"Desperate To Sell" Sales Technique
The Closing, Probably imported from the USA it's the cheesiest ever and it's worth witnessing just for the giggle factor. This is how it works:
When the sales assistant thinks you've found your wedding dress she needs to give you an extra push to close the sale. You'll be made to stand in front of the mirror at a specific distance, you might be given flowers to hold, your veil will be fluffed up, the train arranged, all to create the illusion of actually being at the ceremony. The sales person will then hold your hands, make you close your eyes and whisper "Imagine your wedding day, smell the flowers, feel the sun on your shoulders, hear the bells etc". She will then move away from you and as you are lost in your fantasy she will tell you to open your eyes and to admire yourself in YOUR wedding dress followed by enthusiastic congratulations. Some brides actually cry at this stage.
The point of all this is to make you all emotional and excited hence easier to convince to sign the dotted line.
Some shops serve wine or champagne during the appointment and, as we all know, alcohol makes people a bit reckless so getting drunk would make you vulnerable.
Miscellaneous Sales Talk
"This dress might not be available in a month/week etc". Although it is true that shops renew their collections from time to time it is unlikely you won't find it again in a month time. If you are really worried but are not ready to commit yet you could ring the shop and ask whether it is still available.
"We are always really busy". The busy times for a wedding dress shop are Saturdays and the winter. Most weddings happen in summer and usually brides buy their dresses 6-8 months before. Buying in summer (the quiet period) will give you more opportunity to find special offers and discounts.
"This dress is made especially for you". It doesn't mean tailor made. Custom made, tailor made, couture etc mean that you choose the fabric, the beads, the shape, the length of the train etc and you actually see the dress progressively being made at each fitting.
Made to order means that your dress is made in your size somewhere else, even abroad, and it's altered to fit, usually in the shop. You might be able to choose the colour, the beads etc but not the basic shape. For example if the dress has a square neckline and you want a round one, you won't be able to have it.
"Luxurious fabrics". Don't be fooled by fancy names of fabrics, wedding dresses come in silk or artificial fibres. Satin, organza, taffeta', crepe, chiffon etc refer to the way a fibre has been woven not to the content. Both silk and artificial fibres can be woven into satin, organza etc. Silk is a selling point so if it's not mentioned assume it's not and if in doubt look at the label. More about fabrics in a later section.
"Beaded with Swarovski crystals" The real ones are very expensive and the price would be prohibitive. Not every glass bead is a Swarovski crystal.
"We don't make a profit/we lose money on the alteration service, the accessories, whatever". Yeah, right.
Now that you know all this though, try not to blame the poor sales assistant, they are often under enormous pressure to make the sale and in case you are wondering, the commissions are nothing to write home about.
About the author
Lucretia Agnus was born in Hungary in 1947.
She trained as a costume designer and worked on theatre and TV productions all over Europe. She settled in England after her marriage to raise a family and transferred her skills and experience to the bridal industry where she stayed for the next 20 years.She has now retired and enjoys cooking, gardening and skiing.
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"Unfortunately this describes my experience almost down to a tee. Do I feel stupid for being sucked in? Yes, am I the first? I imagine not and I'm £500 of deposit money worse off for the experience. Some wedding shops do pile on the pressure and I wish I'd read this beforehand. I'm not even quite sure what went on in the store when I look back, I lost all sense of perspective and was bullied into putting the money down which is very out of character for me. They clearly knew exactly what they were doing and personally I think it's quite cruel to use pressure sales for such an emotive purchase. Did I find 'the one', no I'm going down the aisle in something I feel is an 'ok' compromise because a new store manager wanted to prove she could sell."
"Is this a training course for all sales assistants, no matter what they are selling? All selling needs sales techniques no matter what the item being sold. At least in a bridal shop you will get the attention of the sales assistant! I would say to all the bride-to-be's - when you find 'the' dress you will know, make the most of all the expertise & experience of the sales assistant and listen to their advise. Most bridal shops are there to help you, unlike the author."
"christi if you use these techniques the brides will laugh all the way out the door , and 8 months is a short lead time and dresses do get discon so any bride listening to this advise better make sure they know what they are reading is true or they WONT have a dress lol, i am turning brides away now as i cant get the dresses i told them to order weeks ago !! did they think i was lying YES was i lying NO ! can they now get their dream dress . NO !!i dont need to lie to get a sale if the dress is right they will buy it if its not they wont !!"
"Such a shame with a costume designer background, that she has portrayed all bridal dress sellers as rip off merchants. What royalities does she gain from this site? must be hefty I would say."
"And if they are trying to sell you a dress??????? The problem with that is exactly what? After all as a bride you will have probably spent a good few hours in the company of the boutique, drunk their coffee and enjoyed their attention and expertise. They are after all a shop with bridal dresses as their product. Why should they feel ashamed that they want to make a sale? Does anyone reading this go to work and sit unpaid.....no......doubt it! So why shouldnt the shop make money...its called business. The world survices on it and whilst we would all love to think that love makes the world go round, in pure commercial terms, life can not be so. I am sure the cynical author of this piece has in some way capitalised on her own "expertise" in the past or has she never earnt a wage? Every business that sells anything will endeavour to get a customer to spend their money with them rather than a competitor. Why should it be treated in such a disparaging way. I work in bridal and work damned hard, selling a wedding dress is only part of the "battle". Keeping the customers happy is a long term commitment as we often deal with them for many months up to their weddings. This article infers we are there to make a fast and easy buck....Oh that it were! This is a scournful and particularly suscipicous article and I question the motives of the author."
"Ummm - don't know WHAT to say about all of this !!!
Are you really telling me that the author of this piece has has anything to do with the Bridal world at all??
I own a very busy and happy bridal business, and would like to point out that this article is wildly inaccurate.
We are bound by law to make sure we correctly describe items that we sell, and are also at the mercy of our designers who discontinue at a whim.
Necklines etc CAN be changed by some manufacturers without the dress being 'made to measure' and since when does a fabric HAVE to be silk to feel luxurious???
Our customers are far too sophisticated to fall for such clumsy 'selling techniques' described in the article, and I certainly wouldn't tell a bride she looked good if she didn't - it's MY reputation on the line - at her wedding -she is a walking advert for my business- I WANT her to look the best she can!
As for only being busy in the winter??WHERE did this woman work!LOL!! Our diary is packed all year 'round.
Finally - we actually do subsidise many of our alterations, and actually feel lucky if we've broken even on them!!!
Dear reader, have just seen that the 'Author' would be 63 now and also retired..................hmmm so she 's VERY much out of touch with the Bridal business of today, Bless her X
Admin: The authors name and age are fake so she cannot be hunted down by her previous employers for spilling the beans on their sales practises. The problem virtually all disgruntled trades people don't understand about whatprice is that there genuinely are lots of people who will do 'tricks of the trade' as mentioned in the above article - even if they don't. It doesn't mean everyone does. People have no problem laughing at the dishonest sales patter of some double glazing sales people or the fraudulent activity of some locksmiths (as shown on watchdog). Why do people in the bridal industry refuse to believe some companies would use these tactics to push up their sales? Again this is from a persons geniune experience."
"THanks! I just got my first job as a bridal sales consultant and I was able to learn a lot about how to close a deal! :)"
"I am a Sales Assistant with 8 years experience and whatever the author has written about sales techniques shows that she is a very unhappy sour person. You can sell cars, furniture, electronics but you can never push a Bride to buy a dress. The dress sells itself and no matter what you do or say it will never make a bride buy anything till she says so."
"thanks for the advice, buying a wedding dress is nothing like buying a regular dress, nice to know the tricks because u can often be left feeling guilty if you leave the shop with out promising to buy."
bride to bee
"Again, these are genuine experiences of a person who worked in a large bridal shop for many years. The author bio is altered to protect her identity. Does it apply to all bridal shops? Of course not. Do some bridal shops use a selection of the mentioned methods - yes. Are you saying that NO sales techniques are applied? That every bride you say is stunning, really is? The point of any of these type of sale technique articles is so that people can become aware of what pressure, sometimes subtle, can be applied. These type of sales techniques occur in car sales, furniture sales, insurance sales, window sales, conservatory sales, etc but not, apparently, wedding dress sales. It would then appear that the article author worked in the only bridal shop in the country that actually trained their assistants in sales techniques beyond being helpful."
"This is just stupid - this person obiviously has never worked in a bridal shop in her life!! This is going to scare brides all over the world and not trust anyone ever again!!! Don't listen to this - believe me you cannot make a bride buy a dress unless they really love it - no sales pitch or cheesey talk will help."
"This 'crap' really is written by an ex-industry person and is her experience."
"What a load of crap, any bride reading this will never trust a bridal sales assistant again!!!! sort yourselves out!!!"
Miss Caroline Pullen (Bride to be)