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October 1999

For Your Staff: Selling Insights

Shop the Rest to Stay the Best

Just like professional sport teams, you should keep tabs on your competitors to be successful

You may be too young to remember a hit song from the '50s called "Little Things Mean A Lot." Whether or not you remember the song, remember the phrase. Nowhere is it truer than in fine jewelry retail sales.

In our past three articles (Professional Jeweler, July 1999, p. 123; August 1999, p. 144; September 1999, p. 158) we reviewed the "little things" that separate ordinary sales associates from super successful ones. These often– overlooked tricks of the trade may give you just the edge you need to complete one or two more sales per week than you might have otherwise.

Professional sport teams spend countless hours reviewing films and videotapes of their opponents. If they're going to stand a fighting chance of being victorious, they'd better know the other team's strengths and weaknesses and create their game plan accordingly.

Application for Jewelers

You can assess your own competitors' strengths and weaknesses by answering some questions. How good are his prices? How does he compare on selection? On customer service? Aren't you curious? In fact, don't you need to know? Smart sales associates – and managers and owners for that matter – know the answers.

How much are his 0.50– ct. SI1/G color solitaires? Does he discount his watches? Does he carry tanzanite? Created color? 18k? How many opal rings does he have in preparation for October birthstone sales? Has he changed his windows recently? How knowledgeable are his sales associates?

How long does it take to be acknowledged when you walk in? Is his promotional omega chain 10k or 14k? And maybe most important of all, what does he tell his customers about your store?
Put on your old jeans and tennies, drop in and look around. Afraid you'll be recognized? Send a surrogate – friend, spouse, sibling. Afraid you'll tie up a sales associate and prevent her from serving a real customer? That's a valid concern. Choose a time to "shop" that's not routinely busy: Tuesday morning, Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. If you notice customers waiting for help once you're inside a competitor's store, politely excuse yourself for an appointment you "almost forgot" and bow out gracefully.

However you choose to handle it, don't feeling shopping the competition is unfair or unethical. The folks at Ford buy and dismantle Chevies every day. "All's fair in love, war and retail," and your competition is probably shopping your store as you read this article. Absorb all the information you can, then retreat to the mall bench or your car and write down as much as you can remember.

Don't forget to shop the ads as well; nothing looks worse than the customer knowing more than you do about what's going on in the jewelry industry.

Share the information culled with your colleagues and boss. We recommend different sales associates visit different competitors monthly, then meet to compare notes.

Of course, the best use of the information will occur when you sit down with your customer. It's so much easier to overcome her objections when you're educated and aware:

"I think I saw the same bracelet at ABC Jewelers for less."

"Let me save you a trip, Mrs. White. I'm familiar with that bracelet. Theirs has a spring ring closure; ours has a strong and secure lobster claw clasp."

"This is the first place I've shopped. I love the ring, but I'd like to look around."

"And a smart shopper does compare, Mrs. Black. I can save you some time though. I've shopped the ads and the stores and I can assure you no one has this fine quality ring at a comparable price."

Knowing your competition increases your self– confidence, which builds your customer's confidence in you. Learn – and stay on top of – what's going on around you. It's one of those little things that mean a lot as you make your way to the top of the list of successful sales professionals.

by Christine Anzell and Jack Levenson

Christine Anzell and Jack Levenson have spent a combined half– century in fine jewelry retail. To order their copyright, jewelry– specific Client Record Keeping Book or Sales Training Manual, call them at (800) 887– 8902.

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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