Prospecting For Gold

We talk to all kinds of jewelers: small independents, regional and national chains, promotional operators, guild and department stores. As varied as their opinions are on everything from advertising to assortments, they are of one mind about one important fact: doing business today is more of a challenge than ever.

More and stiffer competition as well as changing values and buying habits have caused smart jewelers to proactively revisit every aspect of their businesses, making sure they maximize every sales opportunity.

Of course, the most successful companies in our industry employ the finest sales associates, and the finest sales associates know their work doesn’t begin and end when they enter and leave the store. Creating traffic and driving sales today involves a three-step process that begins not behind the jewelry counter, but in places such as in the front of the deli counter, on the sidelines of the soccer field or in the hairstylist’s chair.

Have you ever asked your manager or salespeople why a day was slow? If so, you’ve no doubt heard “No traffic, Boss!” In these highly competitive times, we can no longer accept that excuse. Traffic is as much your sales associates’ responsibility as it is a function of your mall, your marketing, your reputation.

If you don’t already have a program in place to enable your associates to create the “footsteps” you so sorely need, start today. This three-step program is designed to ensure the ongoing development of your customer base and the continuing success of your business.

NETWORKING

Though the term “networking” is relatively new, the concept is not. Sales associates must understand how important it is to tell everyone who crosses their paths what they do for a living and where they do it. Now more than ever, none of us can sit back and wait for a customer to walk through the door. We have to help drive them through that door.

Some jewelers spend thousands of dollars per location per year advertising merchandise, prices and reputation. But just like the best things in life, the best advertising is free. Every associate you employ has a life outside the store. Maybe they go to school or to church. Perhaps they are parents of Little Leaguers or soccer players. Maybe they are in bowling leagues or bridge clubs. Do they have a postal delivery person, a mechanic, a doctor, a manicurist, a neighbor? You bet! And, does each of those folks have your associates’ business cards or at least know where they work? Let’s hope so.

Networking is the most effective and cost-efficient way to spread the word; for the cost of business cards, your advertising can go all over town by word of mouth.

Here’s a tip to make sure your kid’s school bus driver doesn’t discard that card. Before you hand it over, turn it to the blank side and write, “Good for complimentary jewelry cleaning” and sign it. You’ve just converted that card to a coupon, which is much less likely to be disregarded.

When people need to buy a piece of jewelry or have something repaired, they want to deal with folks they trust. Now that your associate’s cards are in the hands of the public, they have a “connection” to one of your store’s associates – even though they may have met under the dryers at the hair stylist’s, potential customers will come to your store before looking up a jeweler in the Yellow Pages.

Remember, when it comes to the business card, Karl Malden said it best: “Don’t leave home without it.” Spread the word and watch the traffic flow.

THE CLIENT BOOK

Those who add to it religiously often refer to it – ironically – as their “bible.” It is a client book. Real estate and insurance agents and many personal-service businesses such as manicurists and hair salons have proven the value of a well-maintained client book over the years. For some reason, however, retail jewelers have been slow to follow.

A good client book offers a page with space for personal information related to each customer. Thorough records of customers’ purchases, their tastes, sizes and the dates of their special occasions can be used time and time again to drive incremental sales. In addition, the books should contain information on the customers’ families – or anyone else for whom they shop.

Associates who use this invaluable tool correctly inevitably surpass those who don’t in sales and in customer service. Granted, it takes time to build the book into a valuable resource. But when we roll out this program in seminars, we often receive correspondence shortly thereafter saying how well and quickly it works.

There are three simple ways for associates to cull the necessary information for their client books:

  • From the customer who makes a purchase.

  • From the customer who doesn’t buy this time but who readily responds to a well-intentioned request for an address and phone number.

  • From people who enter your store each day for a variety of reasons, such as to buy watch batteries or bands, to drop off or pick up repairs, to have rings inspected or cleaned or to make credit payments. A non-threatening offer to notify these customers about future sales and events is usually all that’s needed to elicit information for the client book.

Once associates have the information, they can use it to prospect for those elusive incremental sales.

PROSPECTING

There are dozens of reasons to call customers and invite them to the store. And, contrary to some salespeople’s opinions, customers typically do not mind being called by someone with whom they’ve done business; their reaction is far different than it might be to a cold call. Customers who receive short-and-sweet calls – for reasons such as those listed below – can be delighted to receive the information and consider it a highly professional call.

Here are some reasons to call a customer:

  • Arrival of an item that completes a set or complements a piece the customer already owns.

  • Thanks for stopping in. Extend an offer to answer any questions about an item the customer may be considering.

  • Remind bridal customers about bridal party gifts before the wedding.

  • Receipt of a unique piece or estate piece that is “just their taste.”

  • Introduce a new line or the arrival of new merchandise.

  • Reminder of an upcoming birthday or anniversary.

  • Receipt of an item a customer has been looking for.

  • Time for inspection and cleaning of jewelry or watches.

  • Invitation to special store events, such as a trunk show, remount show, designer show or estate event.

  • Completed repair.

  • Time to trade up.

  • Upcoming sale.

  • Upcoming holiday.

One of the most effective phone calls you can make is to follow up and thank the customer after the purchase. We know what you’re thinking: “Ve-r-r-y risky …” Not so. The happy customer will be most impressed that you took the time to call. The unhappy customer – the one you’re worried about calling – will be relieved when you reassure them they may bring back the unsatisfactory item for exchange or adjustment.

In one brief but productive call, you’ve eliminated fears and concerns as well as prepared yourself for some additional work to make the customer happy. Two caveats:

  • Be sure to wait until you know the special occasion has passed.

  • Speak only to the person who bought the piece, in case you’re mistaken about who he or she bought it for.

People love having a “friend” in the jewelry business, and the sales associates who make friends as well as sales are always successful. They let people know what they do and demonstrate genuine interest in the jewelry needs of those they meet.

Treat these customers with respect and integrity. Not only will they become loyal for life, they’ll take pleasure in referring friends and relatives with jewelry needs as well.

During these challenging times, we must continually work to build our business. Networking, using a client book properly and regularly prospecting are three easy and low-cost means toward that end.

Anzell & Levenson are sales trainers and consultants in the fine jewelry retail industry. For information regarding their custom-designed sales seminars or sales training manual, contact Anzell & Levenson, P.O. Box 921, Pleasanton, CA 94566-0921; (800) 887-8902.