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
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
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
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.
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,
Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.