JCK Show: Hucker focuses on unprepared sales staff

Why do consumers not buy colored stone jewelry in your store, asked Doug Hucker, executive director of the Dallas-based American Gem Trade Association, during Wednesday’s “Marketing Colored Gemstones in the 21st Century” seminar. He offered a possible answer: “Maybe your staff is unprepared to sell color.”

Everyone is prepared to sell diamonds, thanks to De Beers and the promotion of the “four Cs.” And because of the Internet (as well as other jewelers), your customers know more about diamonds when they shop your store, so they’re comfortable with them. If you want to sell more color, said Hucker, you need to chain your employees to the colored gemstone case.

Get them comfortable with color by making sure they can answer these few simple questions: “What is it?” and “Why does it cost that much?” If you expect your customer to feel comfortable about buying colored gemstones in your store, then your sales staff must be comfortable selling them, Hucker maintained. More people buy colored stone jewelry from retail jewelers than from any other source. But if your customers have learned more about a gemstone from the Internet than they have from your sales staff, they will more than likely not buy from you.

Many factors can extend your expertise and thereby give your customers the confidence to buy from you. Promote your membership in jeweler’s organizations. Customers won’t ask about it, but it’s important to consumers to know that you’re a member of an ethical trade organization. You should insist that your sales associates mention your membership every time they work with a customer. “This is non-negotiable behavior,” said Hucker. “If you’re selling colored gemstones, you have to do that. It’s extremely important to the customer.”

“If you have a report from a laboratory, this will dramatically increase your chances of selling that gemstone,” Hucker added. “It confirms, from a third party source, that they’re making the right purchase decision.” He said one in five customers is willing to pay for a $100 certificate for a gemstone jewelry purchase up to $2,000.

“For purchases over $2,000, if you tout your membership and have a laboratory report, 90% of your customers are more willing to purchase that piece of jewelry,” Hucker noted. It’s no guarantee, he said, and he doesn’t believe every gemstone should have a lab report, but the consumer will be more comfortable when there is a lab report and be more likely to buy colored gems.