Professional Jeweler Archive: Basic Training

June 2001


Basic Training

Selling timepieces requires specific knowledge and selling techniques that should be reviewed regularly

Stop in any retail establishment and you’ll find many selling styles among the sales associates. We’ve all been helped by salespeople filled with information. Who hasn’t met highly emotional presenters? Without question, we’ve been assisted by strong closers and weak ones.

You may have all types in your store. But jewelry differs from many other products – it’s emotional in nature, it can be very expensive and selling it requires some specialized knowledge.

Within the jewelry category, timepieces are even more specific. Because they’re functional and technical, timepieces require a specific approach. Let me share some methods we use to help keep our watch skills and sales at high levels.

Start with Product Knowledge

Whether you carry a large number of top Swiss timepiece brands – as we do – or just a few modest or introductory brands, one thing is certain: You and your sales associates need to know what you’re talking about. This sounds like a simple concept, but how many times have you met a salesperson who couldn’t converse effectively about the product at hand?

We have high expectations of our sales associates. The associates need as much experience and knowledge to sell a fine timepiece as they need to sell a larger top-quality diamond. A beginner may be able to sell a popular two-tone fashion watch, but what about a chronograph? A dual-time-zone watch? A moonphase or perpetual calendar timepiece?

When to Train?

We provide ongoing training opportunities throughout the year, and especially just before our watch event each May, any time we receive new products and after our store’s buyers and managers return from the big jewelry and watch trade shows when their enthusiasm is high and information is fresh in mind.

Who Should Train?

You can take different approaches to training your sales associates. First, call on your watch vendor representatives. Nothing is more important to them than for your staff to be good at selling their brands. Use this to the benefit of your store. We’ve done early-morning training – after the jewelry is set up and before we open. We’ve even had some vendor representatives conduct an after-work session, with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres or dinner to provide incentive to stay in the store late.

Expect these sessions to last about one hour. Most vendor representatives will work through some history, review the line and discuss features and benefits of their timepieces. They also should teach your sales associates how to navigate their catalogs in case they end up showing one to a good customer during a sales presentation.

Reinforce the Basics

How do you progress from there? Your watch buyer or manager should be expert with all lines in your store. He or she should hold ongoing sessions with the staff throughout the year and provide industry and product line updates, material from trade journals, and press releases and advertising from the brands. This helps to keep knowledge high and reinforces the basics

Next month: We’ll look at some effective methods our store uses to assure the staff knows the products and the sales techniques best-suited to sell them.

by Paul White, Watch Division Director, Reis-Nichols Jewelers, Indianapolis, IN

Each month Paul White fills this column with tips for retailers who want to manage their timepiece departments better. Send suggestions for topics, questions for Paul or examples from your store to Professional Jeweler, 1500 Walnut St., Suite 1200, Philadelphia, PA 19102;

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications