Professional Jeweler Archive: To Sell or Not to Sell: Nine Tips from the Bard of Avon

January 2003

For Your Staff/Sales Training

To Sell or Not to Sell: Nine Tips from the Bard of Avon

Shakespeare understood that success is a stranger to those who lack effective communication skills

Though he attained fame more than 400 years ago as a writer, not a sales guru, William Shakespeare offers insights into human nature and the selling process. Put his wise words to use during your next sales opportunity.

Bait the hook well; this fish will bite.

To make a sale, you need a “hook,” something that will grab your prospect’s attention immediately and suggest your communication will be worth his or her time. Find out your client’s passions in jewelry: Has he or she been looking for a spectacular ruby or a heart-stopping opal? That’s your bait.

Brevity is the soul of wit.

Once you obtain the opportunity to engage a customer, make good use of the time. You must be able to convey your message quickly, concisely and clearly. In this era of information overload, lengthy messages often get ignored.

Speak the speech, I pray you.

During any sales transaction, your voice is a key factor in how well your prospect or customer will receive your message. If you mumble, speak too softly or bellow, you may lose your audience immediately. Get some feedback and hone your vocal style.

It was Greek to me.

As salespeople attempt to explain product features, they may use industry jargon customers don’t understand. When speaking with customers, speak at their level. If what you say doesn’t make sense to them, they’ll have little desire to listen or buy from you.

More matter with less art.

Visual aids, if overdone, can backfire. Salespeople sometimes overdo it in the desire to achieve a flashy look. Savvy salespeople, however, resist gimmicks that might distract from the real message of their presentations.

The readiness is all.

Ask any successful salesperson for one tip and the answer is likely to be “preparation.” While readiness may not be “all,” it’s a lot when it comes to making the sale. Don’t meet with any prospect unless you’re well-prepared.

More of your conversation would infect my brain.

Some salespeople forget the most valuable part of a sales encounter is listening, not talking. If you dominate the conversation, you’re not learning what’s important to your client. Without such knowledge, how can you sell effectively? Smart salespeople know to ask one or two astute questions and then shut up.

Suit the action to the word, the word to the action.

It’s important for a salesperson to be natural and congruent – maintain a match between body and spoken language. People new to the sales world often have difficulty doing this. Check your overall presentation when you communicate. If your body looks tight, your posture sags or you appear defensive, your customer will quickly pick up these non-verbal messages.

See where she comes, apparell’d like the spring.

Dress and grooming can quickly establish customer connection or avoidance. Know what’s appropriate to wear.

– by Thomas Leech

Thomas Leech is a nationally known presentations consultant, executive speech coach and author. His latest book is Say It Like Shakespeare: How to Give a Speech Like Hamlet, Persuade Like Henry V, and Other Secrets From the World’s Greatest Communicator (McGraw-Hill). Visit

Copyright © 2003 by Bond Communications