Professional Jeweler Archive: Walk a Mile in Your Customers’ Shoes

July 2002

For Your Staff/Selling Timepieces


Walk a Mile in Your Customers' Shoes

Go out to make a large purchase and experience how a sale can proceed. Then bring that lesson back to your store


The other day my wife and I went out to buy a treadmill with which to finally – truly, this time we mean it – get in shape. Our experience was very similar to the process a customer goes through when shopping for a fine watch or jewelry. Let me share it with you.

Like a fine watch, a treadmill isn’t the sort of thing you shop for every day. There were models with which to get acquainted, features and benefits to learn, prices to come to grips with and more. I instantly had empathy for any novice watch customer who comes into our store. The selection of fitness equipment is as daunting as the selection of watches in today’s market.

Initially, we were afraid to buy anything. Which model would best suit our needs for quality, price, service, features and size? Frankly, at first glance many models seemed quite similar. What we needed was a guide or a competent and informed salesperson.

Store No. 1

We knew the staff at the first store. We bought bicycles there previously and felt comfortable with the store’s reputation and service. The salesperson we had worked with then was no longer with the store, but the young man who assisted us seemed quite knowledgeable. He let us try several machines, explained features and benefits effectively, discussed delivery options and pricing, and pretty well covered all our questions.

He gave us his card and several brochures and said he hoped we would call if we were interested. On the whole, he did a competent presentation of a product that was foreign to us. He didn’t ask us to buy that day.

Store No. 2

We then visited a store known for its fitness equipment and specializing in a no-frills showroom, competitive prices and expert advice. Here, we also encountered a highly competent, personable and well-informed salesperson. He too let us try several machines, did a fine job presenting the particulars and also presented us with materials, his card and a generally non-pressured approach. We left this store also without making a purchase.

Walking with the Winner

The moral of this tale is that we’re now walking (fairly regularly) on our brand new treadmill. Care to guess where we bought it? Remember, each salesperson did a competent job, was equally well-informed, was competitive in pricing and service, and offered similar machines.

Our new treadmill is from Store No. 2. Why?

Uncover the Needs

Our second salesperson asked more questions, uncovered our needs, matched features and benefits to those needs and seemed to hone in more on our psyches. As a result, even though he didn’t ask for the sale, when we arrived at home, we both felt confident we would buy from him.

Buying Sequence

One other key factor: Store No. 2 benefited from being second in the buying sequence. It was as if we used Store No. 1 as our library, a resource to identify our priorities. This enabled the salesman at Store No. 2, along with his slightly better tailored presentation, to match the machine to our needs – and to capture our business.

Has your store ever been Store No. 1? All of us frequently have that experience. We do a good job, we’re well-informed, we may even ask for the sale. In short, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for the customer not to buy. But some element is missing and the sale walks away.

Present Thoroughly

The secret lies not in any magic potion. In fact, it’s not a secret at all. When presenting your wares, watches or otherwise, make the most comprehensive effort possible. Cover the bases, ask the questions, match the needs and do everything you can to make the sale. Even if your customer chooses not to buy at that time, you’ve set the bar so high no one can best you.

Whether it’s walking machines or watches, you’ll win more often.

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

Paul White fills this column with tips for retailers who want to sell more watches. If you have suggestions, questions or examples from your store, send them to Professional Jeweler, 1500 Walnut St., Suite 1200, Philadelphia, PA 19102; timepieces@professionaljeweler.com.

Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications