Ask and You Shall Receive

May 1998

For Your Staff:Selling Secrets

Ask and You Shall Receive

From opening to closing, jewelry sales associates must never be too shy to ask questions

The jewelry industry has its 4Cs, and Laura Laaman has her 3Cs: Contact, Compliment and Common Ground.

Laaman, a sales training con-sultant who specializes in the jewelry industry, introduced the concept at the recent IJO Show in Palm Springs, CA, during a presentation titled "How to Ask for the Business and Get It." Here's a closer look at her 3Cs.

  • Contact. "When a customer comes in, make eye contact immediately and shake hands. Show enthusiasm. Show emotion. Show passion. Today, it's OK for a man to offer his hand to a woman," says Laaman.
  • Compliment. Find something to compliment the customer about – clothing, jewelry – anything. It helps break the ice.
  • Common Ground. Laaman suggests asking: "Who referred you to us?' That gives the impression that all customers come in on referral." If another customer gave the referral, it sets up an immediate link between you and the new customer.

Time To Chat
Once you've started to bond with your new customer, it's time to chat. Here are Laaman's suggestions:

  • 44 Questions. To sell, you need information. "Never prejudge. Keep asking questions. The average sales person asks four questions, but the top ones ask 44. Know everything you can about the person or the occasion. The more information you have, the more power you have.
  • Customers never say "no" to these. She recommends asking open-ended questions, but certain closed-ended questions are OK. "If you ask 'Is quality important to you?' and 'Is the reputation of the jeweler you buy from today important to you?' you never get a 'no' answer," she says.
  • Show and tell. Laaman suggests each sales associate pick a favorite piece of jewelry in each department. "Show the customer this first. Get excited about it. Then look for the buying signals. Get as much merchandise on the customer as possible, one piece at a time, of course." She also urges sales associates to master body language.
  • Dog it. The "Puppy Dog" sales closing is very effective but seldom used in the jewelry industry. "Did you ever go into a pet store to look at a puppy but you just weren't ready to decide?" she asks. "The sales clerk tells you, 'Take the puppy home for the weekend and if you don't like it, bring it back Monday.' No one ever brings it back. Try the same thing with jewelry. Some jewelry will come back, but a lot will stay home."
  • Get personal. Laaman also favors a close like, "So which one did you decide on today?" She advises using words like "you" and "your" when speaking with the customer. "That makes it personal."
  • Pricing semantics. Try using the word "only" when quoting the price, suggests Laaman. As in: "It's only $1,000!" Salespeople often are hesitant to quote the price because they're concerned the customer might think it's too high, says Laaman. But the word "only" lets the customer know you think it's a bargain. When the customer gives a price beyond which she won't go, is it a real number? Probably not. When she asks 'How much?' she really means, "Can I afford it?" not "I don't have the money for this."

– by Jack Heeger

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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