How to Sell Anything to Anyone, According to Consultant Frances Jones

The LUXURY 2016 keynote speaker dispensed sage advice for achieving stronger sales

It’s a situation jewelry retailers find themselves in all the time: A customer walks in, scans every case and says something like, “I don’t see anything I like.”

What next? Next, according to author and consultant Frances Jones—who delivered the keynote at the JCK LUXURY Retailer of the Year breakfast event last week—comes a big, fat ego-boost aimed squarely at your indecisive shopper. “You say, ‘I can see you have very distinctive taste,’ ” she said. The crowd of retailers giggled over the slick-and-stealthly response. “Huuuh?” Jones asked, smiling. “You see what I mean?”

The speaker, who penned the book How to Wow: Proven Strategies for Selling Your Brilliant Self in Any Situation, among other titles, told the crowd of retailers that you can sell anything if you validate a consumer’s suspicions that they are “a special snowflake”—singular, creative, and and full of opinions that matter.


Jones tweeted a crack-up moment from her JCK Las Vegas talk

Her speech wasn’t the most fiery one given at this year’s JCK Las Vegas. But, for me, it was the one that lingered the longest. I quoted Jones’ insights and tips to friends and colleagues repeatedly in the days that followed:

Here are some highlights from it:

“People like to believe they’re either a creative or a visionary,” Jones explained. “And you can sell anything with that knowledge.”

“Add the phrase ‘Thank you for taking the time to talk to me, I know you’re very busy’ ” to any phone interaction. That line, she said, evokes a sense of ‘Yes, I am busy—I am very busy and important!’ ”

Keep client problems in perspective. “With clients you only ever have a situation or a dilemma,” she said. “You never again have a crisis. Even the president doesn’t go to a crisis room—he goes to a situation room.”

“When a customer walks in, don’t say, ‘Do you know anything about our store?’ All of a sudden you’ve put them on the defensive.” And don’t ask if they’re looking for anything in particular, she added. “It’s a question that’s too easy to say ‘no’ to. Say something more like, ‘If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.’ It’s an open-ended way of getting to the same place.”

Listening, really listening, is central to good selling. “Most of us don’t listen—we just listen to [eventually] interject,” she noted. “Ask questions like,’Tell me a little more about why you wanted that? What about that thing is so special?’ Do some real listening. There might be something about what they wanted that leads you to finding something that does address it. If you go right into problem-solving, they will be thinking, ‘This person is not listening to me.’ “

The best way to create a more intimate rapport with clients? “It’s about talking to them literally about what’s going on in their lives. Just remembering that it’s less about the selling of the object and more about ‘let’s find an opportunity for me to be helpful in any number of ways.’ “

Develop a secret word or phrase that you can use in front of clients to signify that immediate attention is required or something stressful is happening. “At Balthazar in New York, they say, ‘Have you seen the Spanish wine list?’ There is no Spanish wine list,” Jones said. “It means: You have to come with me right now. Have that phrase in place—you don’t want your customers to see your staff running around with their hair on fire.”

“One word increases cooperation from 60 to 90 percent and that word is because,” said Jones. 

“Thirty-eight percent of your impact comes from you tonal quality. Fifty-five percent of your impact comes from what your body does…and we trust you when we can see your hands, and we don’t trust you when we can’t.


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JCK Senior Editor

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