Book Smarts

Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing, by Harry Beckwith, Warner Books (252 pages)

Why focus on what is invisible when you sell sparkling diamonds, vibrant colored gemstones, and precious metals? Jewelry consumers are willing to pay a premium to buy visible beauty plus more. Beckwith shares techniques that work to improve service quality, but his book primarily offers a way to think about "what business you really are in and what people really are buying," so that you understand how to position your business for profitability.

For retail jewelers selling diamond engagement rings, for example, a shopper seeks services you must make visible, such as the stability to back what you sell, reflected in your long history in the community; the ease with which the client can trust you to sell what you offer, reflected in your use of reliable diamond reports coupled with the surety of a credentialed sales staff; or the comfort you offer by treating the couple fairly if the intended wishes a modification, shown in testimonials of pleased clients. These invisible services add value and provide the opportunity for you to factor their worth into your selling price.

For retail jewelers, another key to profitability is successfully annealing the experience the buyer wants to the jewelry you’re selling. A woman shopping with friends and looking for a diamond ring for her partner to buy for her may want her friends to affirm that the style she selects is timeless and will always carry the symbol of young love. In that case you are selling timeless beauty to the buyer and to her friends. A couple shopping together may be promising each other longevity, and in that case you are selling a vision of their rich elder years in which the rings they select now are the rings they’re wearing then. A widower entering a second marriage may wish to demonstrate the value of the mature commitment, in which case you might sell a high-ticket center stone in a platinum mounting, offering it to him as a vessel that carries a message of his stature to his intended partner and to their social circle.

Beckwith asserts that the most compelling selling message is not "I have [beautiful jewelry] but rather "I understand what you need." By understanding your clients and helping them see their invisible dreams materialize in the jewelry you sell them, you breathe life into your store.