From sales and marketing to social networking, The JCK Show educational program offered a wealth of valuable advice to retailers. Here are highlights from the most popular sessions.
SALES AND MARKETING
The 25 Greatest Sales Tips Ever, David Richardson, Richardson Resource Group
• With male customers of engagement rings, focus on the idea of a memorable and mind-blowing proposal. "You go from a transaction to a transformation with a male customer the moment he sees the expression on her face when she says yes."
• Try the echo technique in response to a customer objection. For example, respond to "I’ll think it over" with "OK, think it over."
• When confronted with a customer armed with an Internet price list, ask questions, such as: "What did you discover when you compared it with a certified diamond?" "At this point, how can I help you?" "Why didn’t you buy?"
Romance More Sales, Becka Johnson Kibby, training manager, Robbins Brothers
• Inject romance into each step of a sale-romance the customer, the occasion, the product, the company, even yourself. "Celebrate the occasion that brought them into the store."
• Consider your own level of enthusiasm when showing product. Customers take cues from sales associates, so if you’re not excited, customers could have trouble envisioning themselves owning the piece. "Nobody likes to shop somewhere where the employees don’t enjoy working there."
• Don’t just show merchandise-share the story behind a piece and designer. When offering background, don’t overdo it or you might bore customers.
• Steer conversations back to the customer. The experience is about them.
Harvesting From the Entire Family Tree: A Fresh Look at Generational Marketing, Nick Failla, Premier Consulting Innovations
• Appeal to Baby Boomers through time-saving initiatives, timely assistance, and direction regarding fashion trends. They find comfort in phrases like "Everybody has this piece."
• Offer members of Generation X one-of-a-kind items and vintage looks. They dislike stereotypes, marketing hype, rigidity, intolerance, and pitches based on status. They crave parodies, excitement, travel, and functional clothing.
• Appeal to Generation Y with humor and great Web sites. They’re techno-savvy, brand-conscious, and ethnically diverse. They resent platitudes and poorly functioning technology. They’re concerned with peer acceptance, lack of money, and lack of respect. "Show them large stones. Don’t assume they can’t afford them."
Magic Numbers: The Importance of Price Point Selling and Buying, Shane Decker, president, Ex-SELL-Ence
• When discussing price, use the option negotiation if a customer has a certain amount he’s stuck on. With a 1.00 ct. diamond, for example, drop the color or clarity or offer a smaller diamond. "This gets the customer thinking more in terms of value."
• Use the limited authority tactic to shift price-cutting power to a faceless entity-the vendor: "Sorry, because of vendor restrictions we don’t have the authority to discount items … they could take the collection away."
• Use the owner’s blessing to explain that a salesperson doesn’t have the authority to discount-only the store owner does. When called to the floor, the owner might say, "This is one of my favorite pieces in the store," and then bless the discount. "It takes only 10 to 15 seconds and closing ratios go up 75 percent."
• When discounting, keep the first number small-no more than 10 percent. If further discounts are pursued, the second discount should be half the first. Sales should not be discounted more than 15 percent.
• Don’t use numbers that are too exacting or difficult to convey in a sales presentation. "Don’t use weird numbers like $487.32. Price the item at $495."
• Review two to three years of sales receipts and find common sales numbers for certain product categories. Develop magic number prices in increments leading to $10,000. "Prices on items in your store such as $395, $685, $950, $1,750, $2,695 and $2,995 sound much better during a sales presentation."
• Work with sales associates to determine the most common price objections. "Write each sales objection on the front of a recipe card, and on the back of it write four to five sales responses."
MANAGING YOUR STORE
Recession Proof Your Business, Mark Moeller, owner, R.F. Moeller Jewelers, and president, American Gem Society
• Make sure your business plan reflects what you can do, not what you want to do. Acknowledge the actual purchasing power of clients and buy inventory that sells well in that price range. "Don’t try to be the biggest Rolex dealer or carry the largest inventory of GIA-certified diamonds if your market can’t support it."
• Use memo less and work toward owning a majority if not all of your inventory. "Memo draws attention away from the goods in a store owner’s inventory that they own."
• Don’t have too many vendors. Conduct monthly inventory reviews, by vendor, with an in-house or contracted financial expert. "If it doesn’t perform a 1.0 turn in a year, dump it." Exceptions are strategic vendors such as Rolex and Mikimoto.
• Emphasize your services. When R.F. Moeller Jeweler added a watchmaker, watch repairs doubled.
• Develop better relationships with clients, especially the top 100. Learn about their birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, etc.
• Consider social networking. "Retailers who aren’t on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any of the other leading social networking Web sites like MySpace are going to be out of business."
Sherman Divulges Inventory Secrets, Abe Sherman, CEO, Balance to Buy
• Have entry-level price points across all categories. "I like [Pandora] because you can buy something for $25. … Pandora gives consumers permission to walk into your store."
• Look at the individual transactionsthat drive your business. Many luxury store owners don’t want to sell items below $500 retail, but analyzing where you’re getting a return on your investment may suggest less-expensive goods. Alternative lines help minimize a jewelry store’s stuffiness factor and builds relationships, particularly with young customers.
• To eliminate excess inventory, re-merchandise existing stock into new price points. "Before you buy anything new, maximize what you already own."
• Assess perceived value of merchandise within product categories. For example, pull all your diamond pendants out of cases and lay all items-new and aged-side by side, then look at their prices. "Now you’ll know why some pieces sit and others sell: perceived value."
Fine Jewelry Meets the Recession, Hedda Schupak, editor-at-large, JCK
• Understand that value, understatement, and smart-shopper bragging rights are in. "Research shows that consumers now want fewer but better-quality items. Fine jewelry lives in that space."
• Use terminology from the fashion world, such as "it," "now," and "This season it’s all about the …" "While the rational mind says you’re not going to become one of the people in [lifestyle] ads, a tiny part of you thinks that somehow something exciting would happen as the result of a purchase."
• lTo compete with handbags, sunglasses, and other items in fashion’s sweet spot-the $300-$1,500 range-consider adding costume jewelry and more bridge items with lower prices and trendier styles.
Selling to the Stylish Customer, Caroline Stanley, Red Jewel; Cynthia Sliwa, The Image Counselor.
• Become wardrobe consultants by knowing the seven style personalities. Jewelry for theSportywoman must accommodate an active lifestyle, usually be made with natural materials, and have nontraditional design inspirations such as music, sports, or animals.
• The Traditional personality wants business-appropriate designs and has no tolerance for dangling earrings or jangling bracelets.
• Women in the Elegant category like designer jewelry and products made with superior workmanship.
• Flowers, ribbons, butterflies, and bows appeal to the Feminine personality as well as delicate vintage pieces, lacy openwork, and fine details such as filigree and millgrain.
• Women in the Alluring group project a sexy and glamorous image accentuated by movement and undulating jewelry designs.
• Originality is crucial for Creative women. An eclectic mix of pieces appeals to their flair for the self-styled look.
• For Dramatic women, a bold, statement-making piece such as large cuff is appropriate.
E-mail Best Practices: Finding Diamonds in the Rough, Lissa Napolillo, MBS World Marketing
• When communicating to consumers via e-mail, don’t overdo it. "I have a brand that e-mails me every day. I like the brand but after a while it becomes static to me."
• Segment your e-mail file based on past purchase frequency, product affinity, open and click frequency, geography, shopping cart activity, and browser activity. "Every interaction with your customer should be recorded in your database. You should know who clicked, who opened, and who purchased."
• Choose subject lines carefully. Including your company’s name there increases the chance of click-through. "The shorter the subject line, the more apt a user is to open your e-mail."
• Make it easy for people to opt in and out, and have one database that keeps track of opt-ins and opt-outs.
• Assume any images will be turned off by the e-mail program. "Use description tags for all your images. And never use images for important content like headlines, links, and calls to action."
• Make sure every e-mail includes a link to purchase. "You have to make it as easy as possible for someone to say: ‘I love this image, and I want to buy it.’"
• Look into social networking. For example, if you have a new TV commercial, place it on YouTube. "It’s very simple to do, and it’s free."
Reporting by Rob Bates, Jennifer Heebner, and Paul Holewa. Compiled by Rob Bates.