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Style -- On Style: How to Sell a $35,000 Watch in a Recession --- Salespeople Study Distracting the
Wife, Avoiding Talk of 'Price' and Other Tactics
By Christina Binkley
23 July 2009
The Wall Street Journal
When a man in a Cartier watch stepped into the IWC Schaffhausen boutique in Beverly Hills recently,
salesman Hua Huynh sprang into action. He led the customer to a case of Aquatimers, the Swiss brand's
line of self-winding dive watches. "What's the damage?" asked the customer, pointing at one model. "The
value is $5,800," replied Mr. Huynh. "Would you like to try it?"
Hovering nearby, Jean-Marie Brucker winced.
After the gentleman replied, "Nahh," and left, Mr. Brucker closed in on the salesman. Instead of asking a
yes-or-no question, he chided, "next time, you say, 'I invite you to try the watch. Please take a seat.' " He
pantomimed swiftly laying the watch on a suede-lined tray, leaving the customer no easy out.
Mr. Brucker, a former Xerox salesman, is training IWC Schaffhausen's sales force to sell expensive watches
in a recession. After years of double-digit sales growth, sales of Swiss watches have fallen off drastically.
Watchmakers like IWC -- a 140-year-old company whose watches are considered collectors' items and
generally cost between $3,000 and $300,000 -- are having to re-learn the old-fashioned art of salesmanship.
The worst declines for Swiss watches are in the U.S., where sales fell 42% in May from a year earlier,