Selling advice: Do you show too much?

Making sure you do not overwhelm customers is not the only reason to limit the number of pieces you put in front of a customer. LEONARD ZELL gives four reasons to keep the numbers down.

Do you show too much? Most salespeople do. I see this all the time in jewellery shops from the finest luxury shops to the middle price ones. This happens not only in the UK, but when I conduct sales training world wide. It is a common problem, jewellers don’t know quite how to curb it and when they do, don’t enforce it.

Here are the principle reasons why to keep the jewellery down to one or two pieces, and how to do it.  

It confuses your customer

When you have three or more pieces of jewellery or watches out on the counter pad, not one of them looks special and the customer has trouble making up their mind, and that is when you get that dreaded question from your customers: “I don’t know, which one is your favorite?” You have only a 50/50 chance of guessing right and if you miss you could lose that sale and the customer forever. My students ask me: “Can I say that it is your decision because you are the one that will be wearing it?” You can, but I would not recommend that because you are passing the buck back to your customer and are no longer an expert in their eyes. My best answer is to limit it to two rings (most often only one), and your customer won’t ask you which is your favourite.


An former professional jewellery thief said to me: “Leonard, when I stole from the finest jewellery shops on Fifth Avenue in New York, I always saw more than two of anything on the counter pad and easily got them to bring up two or three more, up to five pieces of jewellery. I looked at it as a gift because when one suddenly disappears the salesperson did not notice, or was not quite sure how many they had out, and were afraid to accuse me. This is because I know most salespeople prejudge customers, and I am very well dressed and groomed and told them I just came from the bank who highly recommended your shop. I say I am in a hurry to make a plane and have to buy a diamond for my wedding anniversary.”

“Salespeople as well as shop managers believe me as someone they can trust. I make sure that between rushing to the window and asking the salesperson to keep the jewellery out to help me make up my mind, he gets so confused he doesn’t know if anything is missing until I am long gone.”

And even more danger…

The ex-thief also told me: “When the salesperson has all that jewellery on the counter pad, I ask if he would please get a diamond ring from the window I saw. The salesperson looks around for someone to watch the jewellery, but the lady, who is my accomplice, distracts the nearest salesperson so there is no one to watch the jewellery while the salesperson goes to the window.  That’s when I tell the salesperson that I’ll watch it for him. When he returns, he has no idea that a ring is missing because he’s so eager to show me that expensive diamond from the window.” He said, “Leonard, it was like taking candy from a baby.”

He also told me the reason this was so easy for him was because jewellers do not make a hard and fast rule to have their salespeople up front on the sales floor near by to assist a salesperson.  They are toward the back or in a room behind the sales floor. If there is just one then his accomplice will keep her busy so there had better be another salesperson ready

Smudged jewellery

After the customer has left, the salesperson has all that jewellery to put back in the showcase. I have seen this happen often. He rushes to put back the diamond rings to wait on the next customer and doesn’t wipe them off. The next salesperson is embarrassed when they show the same ring with a smudge on the diamond.

These four reasons should put fear into any jeweller to take note and do something. This is what I recommend. Have a policy that limits the amount of jewellery on the counter pad to one piece unless the second one is needed to compare. However, when the customer makes up their mind, put it back. The other exception is if the salesperson is showing add-ons. Some of your salespeople may complain that one piece is too strict. Just ask them to give you a reason why they have more than two pieces out and they will say they were afraid to offend the customer by putting it back or their customer had not yet made up their mind. If so, remind them they are allowing themselves to get asked that question, “Which one is your favorite?”

The reason why salespeople are so defensive about putting jewellery back in the showcase is that they do not know how to ask for it back. Most of them don’t even look at the customer first but at the ring on her finger, or on the counter pad and then they ask the customer. When they finally look up at the customer, the salesperson is not smiling. Of course it looks like he is not trusting the customer. Look up at the customer’s eyes, be sure to smile and then ask to put it back while reaching for the ring, holding your smile. The customer will smile back and be happy to give it back to you.

This feature first appeared in the July 2014 issue of Jewellery Focus.

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