Selling Advice: How to become a more natural salesperson

Something you may not be aware of is that many of us who sell fine jewellery have dual personalities: one for our home and one for the shop. Leonard Zell explains

Just think of the way you smile and greet a friend of a friend when she brings her to your home. Of course you always greet your friend with enthusiasm because you know her. But, when you greet her friend, you do so with even more enthusiasm and a bigger smile. Why? Because you want to make her friend feel even more at home.

When your hands are moving you are expressing yourself and will always show enthusiasm.  The following test will prove it to you. Use your smartphone and place it on the sales counter.  Have another salesperson on the other side so it will be more natural and talk to them without using and using your hands. Playback the recording and you will hear the difference.

Guess what most people do in store? Just the opposite. The customers we know, we greet with a smile because we are more comfortable with them, but strangers rarely. At home we are never hesitant with strangers who visit but we are in the store. When you think about it, it makes no sense. We want to convert these strangers into repeat customers, but giving them a cautious greeting is certainly not the way.

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Beat all your customers to the smile, especially strangers. Always smile at them before they smile at you because that is what you do in your home. Unfortunately, most salespeople do just the opposite by letting their customers lead them and wait for them to smile first. Professional salespeople lead their customers and smile first.

Here is another example of a split personality. The most popular body position for salespeople is standing with their hands behind their backs. It’s one of the worst first impressions you can give a customer. It implies that you are timid and shy. I ask you, “is this professional?” Of course it’s not. To show you how little sense it makes, when do you ever greet a friend in your home and talk to them with your hands behind your back? You never do (and if you have done then you know you looked ridiculous). So how do you think it looks in you store?

When your hands are behind you, it implies coldness. As you bring them forward in front of you, it shows warmth.

A professional jewellery thief whom I once interviewed said: “Leonard, whenever I saw salespeople with their hands behind their back, I knew I had an easy mark. They were obviously shy and timid and their body language implied they were easy to intimidate. I could speed them up, distract them, confuse them, almost anything. It was like taking candy from a baby.” This is such an ingrained habit that during my seminars some salespeople still have their hands behind their back and are not even aware of it.


My remedy? Never have your hands touching. You never do at home so why in the store? At home your hands are always in motion, you do not even think about where they should be. Why should you have this trouble in the store? It’s that split personality again. When your hands are behind you it also implies coldness. As you bring them forward in front of you it implies warmth. When you talk with your hands it automatically puts your hands where they should be, in front of you it implies acceptance, behind you it implies just the opposite. Here is something you should be aware of. When your hands are not moving your voice will lack enthusiasm.  

This brings up another idiosyncrasy. At home our hands are always in motion, especially when talking to someone – friend or stranger. If we were told not to use our hands when talking in our homes we could not do it, it would not be natural. In the store our hands are rarely in motion. We grab hold of the edge of the counter and rarely let go. Two bad things happen.  

First, with our hands still, it is hard to express ourselves. Second, our voice goes into a monotone showing no emotion at all.  Fine jewellery has to be sold with enthusiasm and romance. Without these you will sound staged, like you memorised your lines from a prepared text. This test will prove it to you. Use your smartphone and place it on the sales counter. Ask another salesperson to play the customer so it will be more natural and talk to them without using and using your hands. Play back the recording and  you will hear the difference.

Bringing the home into your store helps you avoid having a split personality. The same could be done with fine jewellery if only we didn’t have a split personality, because in the store we do just the opposite. Whenever we take the initiative and select a piece of fine jewellery to show a customer we always tell them what it is before we ever bring it out.

It may sound like this: “I want to show you a great pair of diamond earrings to go with the necklace.” The customer could come back with: “No, don’t bother, I think she already has a pair.” Or: “No, don’t bother, this is enough.” In either case, the moment of suspense and curiosity is lost and you make it easy for the customer to reject you. What should have been said was: “Mrs Smith, let me show you something that will enhance your diamond necklace.” Or: “I have something I don’t want you to miss.” It’s hard for any customer to reject you because they don’t know what you are going to show them because their curiosity will get the best of them.

Just remember, bringing the home into your store avoids this. If you remember to treat your customers the same way you treat your friends in your home you will end up with only one personality. The home personality; the one you want.


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