Selling to an Overeducated Customer

Q: How do you deal with know-it-all customers?Linda Breakiron, owner, Breakiron Jewelers, Erie, Pa.

A: “Customers come in with a lot of information. I’ve even had some people come in with a folder full of documents and printouts. We don’t belittle them as it’s obvious there’s been a fair amount of researching and studying of information online. In a sales presentation, we determine what sort of product knowledge they possess. Once that’s established, we attempt to share our education and experience to separate fact from fiction in the knowledge and information they’ve garnered. Most people are smart enough to know the difference.”
Stuart Benjamin, co-owner, Stuart Benjamin & Co., San Diego

“The biggest problem out there is a lot of the misinformation customers have from other jewelers, such as white gold is better than platinum. It’s our job to know the facts. As jewelers, we need to be better educated on all products to not only correct misconceptions, but to also better educate customers. There is a danger of scaring a customer off with too much information, so be sure to balance it off with the romance and beauty behind the product. For us, we start with the “Four Cs” [color, clarity, cut, and carat] but add two more with our “Six Cs”—certificate and cost. This allows customers to compare apples to apples with a GIA or comparable diamond grading report and decide on a certified diamond within their budget.”
Jonathan Zadok, vice president, Zadok Jewelers, Houston

“A lot of people need reassurance, so the best thing I can do is to be as honest and truthful about the value of the piece he or she is paying for, and disclose all the necessary information. We’re a small independent family business, and we build relationships with customers from the start; we establish that comfort level early on so we don’t have a lot of difficult situations.”
Breah Saettele, sales professional, Saettele Jewelers, St. Louis, Mo.

“I try to work with them the best I can. The last difficult customer I had was looking to buy a watch. He told me he was certain that one brand was better than another, and wouldn’t listen to me telling him they were the same quality. He wanted a particular watch—didn’t want to pay the price—and didn’t want to consider another brand I showed him that was just as good but cost less. I ended up helping him pick out a less expensive version of the brand he wanted; it was a compromise. You have to find the in-between.”
Vincent Spilotro, manager, Arezzo Jewelers, Chicago

“Generally speaking, the sales staff should ask questions. If a customer has been shopping other ­jewelers and hasn’t purchased the desired piece, ask why. Sometimes [that’s] the best way to determine what the customer wants and what information they need to make that decision. When customers come in quoting information off the Internet, staff members know to ask from what website the information was sourced. Customers tend to believe everything on eBay, so we’re constantly checking this site. We also survey Blue Nile to get a ballpark figure on prices for commonly requested diamonds. Another proactive measure we take is routinely surveying the websites of the manufacturers to make sure the staff know as much as the customers.”
David Hayman, master jeweler and CEO, David Hayman Jewellers, Yorba Linda, Calif.

“Always listen. Put yourself in the other person’s position, and remember that the customer is writing your paycheck. There is no argument you’re going to win with a customer, so what’s the point of arguing?”
Jason Druxman, vice president and general manager, Avenue Jewelers, Appleton, Wis.

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