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Selling advice: How to keep your customers happy

Many of our readers will remember LEONARD ZELL’s punchy selling advice columns. This month he makes a return to Jewellery Focus with his take on treating the customer like gold.

Ask yourself this question, what motivates your customers to buy jewellery?  If your answer is price, you are way off the mark. The answer is ‘emotion’. All occasions such as wedding engagements, anniversaries, birthdays and Christmas are happy occasions. So why is it that most salespeople are not as enthusiastic as their customers?  

These are the answers I get from students at my sales seminars:

  • Customers are always asking, “is it on sale?
  • When I give them a price they say, “I can it get for less elsewhere.”
  • They want to compare my diamond to six others they have seen and some on the internet.
  • I get to the close and they say, “I have to talk it over with my husband.”
  • They thank me for all the information I gave them on the four C’s and say, “I’ll be back, can I have your card?”

With this kind of negative outlook salespeople are at a big disadvantage because customers can read them. They avoid these salespeople (just like your salespeople would if they were approached in the same way when they are shopping), and go to those who have the best smile and personality. After all, wouldn’t you?  

The problem is not the customer. It’s the salesperson. They are not in tune with their customer’s emotions. They forget that their customers are buying for happy occasions.  Salespeople seldom greet customers with a smile and enthusiasm like they would greet a good friend at home

What prompted a couple to buy a diamond in your store?  It was that romantic moment when they said they wanted to spend  the rest of their lives together. When they entered your jewellery store they were on cloud nine. The question is, did your salespeople keep them there, did they show any emotion? This is a joyous moment and your salespeople should be in tune with your customers and share in their happiness, or maybe you should start hiring by the smile.  

My students ask me, “How do I get on the right track with my customers?” To show them, I took the role of the salesperson and had them play the customer entering  my store. The first time I greeted them I smiled at them before they could smile at me. This approach made them feel welcome in my store and they in turn smiled at me. This means, in a small way, I have tuned into their emotions. My students said they would not want to make those challenging remarks to me because I treated them like a friend.  

My second approach was the opposite. I waited for them to smile first. My students were amazed at the difference. They liked the first approach much better. There is a great deal of logic to this way of selling. Salespeople automatically greet friends in their own home with a big smile. In their store it is often the opposite and since they do not know the customer they wait for them to make the first move. Without being aware of this they are treating their customers like  strangers.

An immediate smile would have implied they are treating them like a friend. When salespeople do initiate the smile it is usually with customers they have waited on for the third time. They see the light when I ask them: “Why should a customer have to come into your store three times to be treated like a friend?”

To prove my point, can you remember entering any shop and being greeted like that? I asked this question to a room full of 200 hundred jewellers at a convention and only two hands were raised. I asked all those jewellers if their stores were the exception, and I could see it dawning on the entire audience: no-one thought it plausible that they were the exception.

The next question I asked was, “Have you hired a salesperson with an outstanding personality, with enthusiasm, a smile, and even though they lacked product knowledge, they started to outsell the veteran salespeople?”  

A lady raised her hand and stood up with this answer I will always remember: “I was tired of hiring experienced salespeople because I ended up hiring some other jeweller’s problem. This time I thought I would hire someone with no experience and it so happened she had a good personality. She was 20 years old and was an aerobics instructor so she had communication skills which are very important when selling jewellery. Her sales took off immediately and at the end of the month she was in the top one third. At the end of the third month she was ahead of everyone but me.”  

I said I wish she was here to hear that compliment. The lady replied: “She is right here sitting next to me.” The sales girl stood up and received a rousing hand of applause. It was a Kodak moment.

Engaged couples especially want to be waited on by salesperson like her with that enthusiasm, because this is one of the happiest times in their life. The man with an anniversary also wants a salesperson who makes selecting a diamond ring a pleasant experience, rather than a stressful or confusing one.

I recommend you take a good objective look at your salespeople and observe them selling throughout the day. Do they pass the test?  If not, the best way to tell them is having them role play with another salesperson, place a smartphone on the counter and record their conversation. Any lack of enthusiasm will be exposed. They will not like what they hear, but that recorder always tells the truth. Have them keep trying until they are satisfied. That recorder is the best way for your salespeople to improve their personality so it matches the personality they have with their friends.

These three principles will close more sales and create repeat customers:

  1. Beat your customers to the smile the first time you see them.
  2. Talk about their occasion, their jewellery, or your jewellery instead of the weather.
  3. Keep up your enthusiasm throughout the sale.

You do this with your friends at home, why not with your customers in your store?


This feature first appeared in May 2014.

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