A Jewelry Retail Veteran’s First Book Looks to Update the Standard Sales Pitch

Brian Barfield, an 18-year veteran of the jewelry industry, has a few problems with the way sales associates at jewelry stores are being trained. Chiefly, the scripted politesse of the old-school sales pitch “leaves customers feeling disconnected,” he says. Barfield’s extensive experience on the sales floor—he’s been a million-dollar seller for the past six years—has compelled him to write Modern Day Selling, a step-by-step strategic guide for sales professionals that offers a more emotion-focused alternative to the standard smile-greet-and-hover mode of interacting with clients.

JCK: What is the main message of Modern Selling?

Brian Barfield: It’s a detailed roadmap of new insight in sales training. Being in this industry so long, a lot of the training we’ve received has been the same stuff—for 15 or 20 years. This is a different concept that gets away from those sales tactics. It’s about getting committed to reconnecting with the customer. Everyone’s been so focused on the basics of greetings. This is about getting back to truly caring about your customers.

JCK: Why does the sales paradigm need to change?

Barfield: The world’s evolved but the sales training has not. In this crazy world today, people just want someone they can connect with. The current style has eroded that bond of trust between the sales person and the customer.

JCK: What’s the most important element of your sales strategy?

Barfield: The number one thing is the power of self-examination. It’s about making change yourself and not waiting for someone to give you orders. You need to learn how to implement change. I teach people how to truly connect.

JCK: What else is essential to modern selling?

Barfield: Maintaining passion and energy. That’s the fuel that gets us through. In the modern day world…if you don’t repair things, they burn out. A lot of people assume a vacation will [rejuvenate] that drive, but that’s not the case. It’s using the skills I teach and making sure you find things that you enjoy doing—whether [it’s] satisfying customers or watching college football.

JCK: What’s your take on corralling customers into archetypes for sales purposes? 

Barfield: There are four basic personality types when it comes to customers: demanding, guarded, analytical and simple-minded—meaning they know you have your best interests in mind, and there’s very little resistance. The old style would tell you your customer is this one way and that’s how it is. I train that people change daily, and you cannot define someone as a set personality style. You can create the customer you want. If you give bad service, you will have a demanding customer. If you don’t know about your merchandise, you can create a guarded customer.

JCK: You talk about fear in the book. How does fear play into selling?

Barfield: For a lot of people, there’s fear in closing. But it could be a lot of things. It could be a fear of trying to do business with trust and integrity when everyone else is tricking. A lot of people don’t understand how fear operates. I teach people to overcome fear with truth. Truth leads to vision and hope. Vision and hope lead to confidence. And confidence leads to success.