Has anybody else noticed that the holiday selling season is getting shorter and shorter? It used to be that the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas was busy all the way through. Last year it seemed as though the stores were busy only from about Dec. 17 through Dec. 24. Many jewelers were panicked and ready to pull their hair out. Some wondered what their future would be like without owning a jewelry store. Then the last-minute shoppers came and saved the day.
Why is this happening? A lot of it has to do with the media telling our customers to wait until the last minute when retailers will be taking huge markdowns to save or make a profit for the year.
The effect of this has been huge for jewelry retailers. During the busiest time of the year, when we have more new customers and potential new customers coming into the stores than at any other time, salespeople only have time to yell “Next!” Salespeople don’t have time to develop relationships, plant seeds for future purchases, sell additional items, handle objections, turn over sales that have gone south, focus on the emotional reason behind the sale, capture contact information, and so on.
What can a retail jeweler do to offset this trend? My suggestion is that you start today by calling, e-mailing, or texting the top 25–30 percent of your customer base to set appointments. Through your telephone efforts I am sure you can get a large percentage of them to shop in late October or early November for that special piece for that special someone.
First you have to capture contact information, with permission for follow-up. With that information—and permission—call your customers and tell them something like this: “We have the majority of our holiday merchandise in now, so why don’t we set up an appointment before it gets crazy. That way you’ll have the widest and finest selection to choose from.”
Many of your top customers just might take you up on your offer, especially if you know them, their spouses, and their past purchases and can recommend specific items you know will coordinate with other pieces they have. Even if only one out of five accepts your offer, it’s far better than not trying at all.
Getting the top end of your customer base to shop early might allow your salespeople to develop relationships and plant seeds for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, anniversaries, and graduation gifts, thus ensuring a successful first half next year. You’ll extend the holiday season, keep a portion of your sanity, close more sales, increase profits, sell more add-ons, and ensure that 2009 will start out with a bang.
Again, retail jewelers cannot afford to sit back and wait for customers to come to them. They may not be coming. We salespeople have to go out and make things happen. We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. Make the results happen through focusing on making things happen. That’s what true, successful, and professional salesmanship is all about—creating selling opportunities and sales.