Professional Jeweler Archive: AGS Conclave Sales Tips

July 2004

For Your Staff/Sales Training

AGS Conclave Sales Tips

Ideas from top jewelers will help you win your sales challenges

This year’s American Gem Society Conclave in Atlanta, GA, featured a variety of speakers and countless ideas for improving sales. Some excerpts follow.

– by Peggy Jo Donahue

Are You a Change Agent?

Do you recognize yourself?

How well do you adapt to change? In other words, how resilient are you? Resiliency is key to success in a rapidly changing retail environment, says Diane Warga Arias, trainer for the Diamond Promotion Service. Here’s a checklist for you to use:

The resilient handle unfamiliar pressures well. When old diamond-selling techniques stop working because customers have already learned online what you used to teach in the store, can you adapt?

Resilient people expect change all the time. You’ve just become adept at selling chandelier earrings, but trends are moving toward long slender dangles. Can you switch gears?

The resilient expect to learn new things constantly. You’re really good at selling round Ideal cuts, but suddenly everyone’s asking for Asscher and cushion cuts. Can you quickly learn all there is to know about these two historic cuts – along with finding sources for them?

Think you might have a problem with resiliency? Warga Arias says these are the warning signs: You focus on the difficulties in learning new things instead of concentrating on the end result. You see change as a pain. You get overwhelmed quickly and see chaos where others see opportunity.

Words of Wisdom

Jewelers share advice from their elders

Several jewelers discussed what they learned from their mentors, including Holly Wesche Conn of Wesche Jewelers, Melbourne, FL, who learned from her father, Jim Wesche, and her uncle, Herb Underwood; Dave Blevins of Juniker Jewelry Co., Jackson, MS, who learned from various older mentors; and Jimmy Ray Smith of Jimmy Smith Jewelers, Decatur, AL, who learned from his father, Jimmy. Their tips:

Giveaways. Always have something to give away. One jeweler gave children a Mickey Mouse ring and told them to come back as grown-ups and trade it in for an engagement ring. He had a drawer full of his “trade-ins.” Another jeweler never sold a bottle of jewelry cleaner – they were all given away. A third jeweler gave every person more than 50 free watch batteries. A fourth gave each customer a little rose pin.

Special pieces. A jeweler would pick out two pieces he liked and show them to each customer. He also had two more special pieces hidden in his desk – he’d show them next. Then he’d pull another special piece out of his pocket to show last. By the time he presented the final hidden treasure, his customer was feeling pretty special. That’s showmanship.

Love the jewelry business. If you don’t feel good about what you do, get another job.

The customer is always right. When he’s wrong, it’s hard, but he’s still right.

Keep your commitments. Do what you say you’re going to do. If you can’t, you’d better have a good explanation.

Don’t prejudge. A shabby old man came into a jeweler’s store in Las Vegas looking for a diamond to give to a waitress. He was shown a quarter carat, a 3/4 carat and then one slightly larger that still didn’t satisfy. Finally, the jeweler showed a 2.50-ct. diamond and the man bought it. The customer: legendary billionaire Howard Hughes.

If you start something, finish it. This is particularly important with ongoing education.

Creating Aspirations

Showing high-end pieces to every customer is critical to great salesmanship

Do you show an expensive jewel or high-end watch to every customer you greet? AGS Conclave attendees were asked to list the reasons why sales associates often don’t practice this proven sales-builder and to brainstorm reasons why they should. Here’s the point/counterpoint result:

“But he only came in for a watch battery!” Wouldn’t you be flattered to be shown a Patek Philippe instead of being treated like a second-class citizen for needing only a battery?

“Not every customer can afford expensive jewelry.” How do you know which customers can and can’t? Even if you show a fabulous jewel to someone who can’t afford it, she’ll feel like queen for a day trying it on and will tell her friends. That creates buzz and increases traffic.

“It’s too hard-sell – it will scare customers away.” Everyone likes to dream. You’re showing an aspiration, not necessarily selling it.

“Who in their right mind would spend that much money?” See it from the customer’s point of view, not yours. Fantasize you’ve just made a killing in the stock market. Wouldn’t you consider buying a great diamond or a fabulous watch? Treat all customers as though they’ve just come into great fortunes. Maybe they have.

On Branding

Why it’s so seductive

Antwerp diamantaire Mickey Weinstock offered his thoughts on branding from a European perspective. “Adults practice the so-called magical thinking of childhood,” he says. “They want brands that help them feel big and strong and more important than they really are.”

What is brand building? “Having the confidence to say, ‘I’m a great lover’ to a beautiful woman.”

What is brand marketing? “Your friend says ‘Mickey is a great lover’ to a beautiful woman.”

What is brand recognition? “A beautiful woman says to you, ‘Mickey, you’re a great lover.’”

Relationships Matter

Technology has made them even more important

AGS keynote speaker Michael Fortino, an expert on change in the 21st century, reminded jewelers that creating and maintaining good relationships with customers is the single most important factor affecting their success. And often, it’s the little things that matter most.

“We’re becoming so robotic, we forget that relationships still count,” he says. “Put yourself in your customers’ shoes – think about what they’re experiencing in your store.” Have you become stale and predictable?

Are you still saying “Can I help you” and getting the standard “I’m just looking” response? Ask your customer whether she’s been in the store before. Whether she answers yes or no, it will lead to a real conversation.

Are you mechanical and listless in your delivery? Try smiling and making eye contact. Be genuine about it.

Are you really listening? Sales associates who achieve success are relentless in paying attention to what their clients are really saying they want – and then acting on it.

“We don’t own the perceptions of luxury, diamonds and emotion; we just rent them. We keep them alive through diamond dreams and the marketing we do. We have to invest our offerings with meaning. Diamonds must ooze luxury to compete with other luxury offerings. Stores must use elite imagery and attitude and create the right atmosphere to successfully sell diamonds. The store experience has to enhance the diamond dream.”

– Lynn Diamond, executive director, Diamond Promotion Service

Copyright © 2004 by Bond Communications