For Your Staff:Selling Insights
Change for the Better
Match your demeanor to your customers to make them feel at home
by Christine Anzell & Jack Levenson
Webster's defines a chameleon as a small lizard whose skin changes color
according to its surroundings. Our definition of a retail chameleon: a sales
associate of any size who changes demeanor slightly according to his or
When it comes to fine jewelry, the difference between the good sales
associates and the great ones is often minor. A great one can quickly size
up a customer in terms of personality and then tweak his or her own personality
to make that person feel at ease.
You're an effervescent, outgoing charmer who loves to chat. In comes
Mr. Blandman, a gentleman on a mission who obviously has little time for
small talk or humor. If you can tone down your personality and get on to
business, you'll probably make the sale.
You're a busy beaver: clients to call, paperwork to do, appraisals to
complete. In comes Mrs. Blabber, an elderly woman who likes to buy but loves
to talk. Turn your back on the tedium and spend a few minutes making Mrs.
Blabber feel like she's the most important person in your life right now
and make the sale.
Be a Mirror
Effective associates are adept at mirroring the attributes of their clients.
A professional will carefully observe the physical behavior of the customer
and adapt accordingly. If the customer sits or stands back a short distance,
the pro will stay out of his face. If the customer moves in closer (often
a sign of interest in the item, by the way), the sharp observer will move
in slightly also.
While watching the customer, listen carefully, especially at the beginning
of the encounter. If the customer speaks softly and you have a tendency
to be loud, for example, take the volume down a notch. Don't stop being
you, and don't make the exercise obvious to the customer. Simply make a
small adjustment here, a minor tweak there to reach a middle ground.
One of the authors worked for years with a sales associate who was very
good but could have been great. "Mary" was barely 5 feet, barely
100 pounds, with a ferocious energy for selling that fit her gravelly voice,
ruddy complexion and two-packs-of-Camels-a-day demeanor.
When a customer would raise an objection after "Mary" asked
for the sale, she inevitably would lean across the counter, punch him playfully
though not lightly and say "C'mon, Cheapskate! You know
you can't take it with you; where's your checkbook?!" and finish with
a laugh that would reverberate off every surface in the store. It worked
often, but not always. She simply couldn't turn it off or even down.
Many prospects equated her Type-A enthusiasm with high pressure and walked
When it was suggested she might want to soften her approach in certain
situations, she was repelled by "the very idea" that she not be
We've never advocate not being yourself. Chameleons don't turn into elephants,
after all; they simply change color according to their surroundings
and they survive longer. Don't become an elephant if you're a lizard; just
change color slightly according to the scenario and watch your pockets
turn green in the process.
Christine Anzell and Jack Levenson have spent a combined half-century
in fine jewelry retail. For information about their copyright jewelry-specific
Client Record Keeping Book or Sales Training Manual, call (800)
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.