Look and Listen

June 1998

For Your Staff:Selling Essentials

Look and Listen

Our hypothetical sales associate learns that paying strict attention to a customer's reaction will provide clues to negative vibes in time to segue to a new sales strategy

by Christine Anzell and Jack Levenson

Well, now that Julie has asked all these helpful questions and listened very carefully to Mrs. Jennings' responses, let's see what she does next.

On my third day as a new sales associate in a fine jewelry store, I watch carefully as Julie, the store's top sales associate, listens to Mrs. Jennings describe the black-dial gold watch and gold bracelet her executive husband wears. Julie moves slowly toward the gents' ring case. As the conversation evolves, I can see where Julie's headed with this.

"Let me show you a sensational new diamond and onyx ring that just arrived. I'm sure it'll go great with his other jewelry." As Julie removes the ring from the showcase, I notice she takes a moment to "caress" it with a polishing cloth before presenting it to Mrs. Jennings. She told me earlier "a fingerprint on jewelry is a sign of rejection" and to always demonstrate respect for the merchandise in the presence of the customer.

But I notice another benefit of that brief caress: by giving the item a quick polish before handing it over, Julie takes the opportunity to nonchalantly glance at the tag. Now that Mrs. Jennings has shown an interest in the ring and begins to ask questions about diamond weight, gold karatage and price, Julie can answer without having to read from the tag. It gives her a very professional appearance.

Making Contact
Julie places a counterpad on the showcase, which helps Mrs. Jennings to focus on the ring by eliminating the distractions of other items in the case. More importantly, Julie is careful to keep her head up, making eye contact with Mrs. Jennings (not staring her down - just making eye contact).

I remember the day I shopped for my first car. The first salesman didn't look me in the eye as he talked about the features of the car. I simply couldn't establish any trust in him. At the next dealership, the salesman was patient, polite and maintained eye contact and a smile throughout the conversation. That's probably why I bought the car there - even though I paid a few dollars more.

Uh Oh! Mrs. Jennings seems to be rejecting the ring. She hasn't said a word yet, but her body language is clear - she's looking down, her smile is gone and she has put the ring down on the counterpad. Julie notices too and already has another ring in her hand. Great recovery! This time, she calls Scott over and asks him to model the ring for Mrs. Jennings. This gives the conversation a new positive feeling; they laugh a little bit about how Scott's hand doesn't resemble Mr. Jennings' at all. Mrs. Jennings' body language has changed completely. She smiles as she studies the ring, moves closer to the case, makes eye contact with Julie again and nods her head in a posi-tive manner.

From Counter to Customer
This is a perfect example of the conversation the sales associates had this morning as we put the jewelry in the cases. What's the best way to hand merchandise to the customer? The only thing we could agree on is there's no one correct answer; each situation differs slightly.

If we're serving a customer who's buying a gift for the opposite gender, for example, handing her the item isn't as effective as having someone model it. So if I'm presenting to a man buying for a woman, I'll try on the item to show him how it looks on a woman. In the opposite scenario, I'll enlist Scott or Gary to model. Kathy offered a suggestion too. She said when Scott and Gary are unavailable, she occasionally recruits a male customer to model. They're always willing to help, she said, and they often volunteer a positive opinion.

If the customer is shopping for himself or herself, no models are necessary. The important ingredient is to get the merchandise on the customer. Don't just hand her the bracelet; wrap it around her wrist. Don't just hand her the ring; take her hand in yours and slip the ring on her finger. I asked Kathy how to handle the size six ring on the size eight finger. She said she places it only as far as the knuckle, then lets the customer take it from there. Makes sense.

Playing Doubles
We also discussed how to deal with a couple looking at a ring for her. The consensus? Because our business is built on the selling of romance rather than simply merchandise, present the ring to him while suggesting he slip it on her finger. I can see the logic here. This move enhances the emotion of the moment and involves a boyfriend or husband who might otherwise be looking at his watch and wondering whether he'll ever get to dinner. And she'll cherish the moment forever. Very shrewd!

Every time we have a conversation like this, it ends with the reminder that each situation is unique. I must read the customer and react accordingly. If I sense the customer might be offended by being touched, I won't try to slip the ring on the finger. If the husband's body language signals his desire to be left out of it, I'll honor his wishes and talk to her. If he seems to be the decision-maker, I'll address him.

Well, back to Mrs. Jennings. Julie has obviously shown her a ring she likes for her husband. Now it's time for Julie to sell.

To be continued ...

Christine Anzell and Jack Levenson are sales trainers and consultants in the fine jewelry industry. For information about their copyright training manuals or jewelry-specific client recordkeeping books, contact them at Anzell & Levenson, P.O. Box 46801, Las Vegas, NV 89114; (800) 887-8902, e-mail cmanzell@juno.com.

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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