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Ask INSTORE: July 2006

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Being a good listener, tips for displaying men’s jewelry, and selling without discounting.

[h3]Listen Up! Test your listening skills[/h3]

[dropcap cap=Q.][h4][b]I fancy myself as a good listener but perhaps a second opinion is needed.[/b][/h4][/dropcap]

[dropcap cap=A.]Just about everybody thinks he’s a good listener. But if you’re in sales and basing this quality purely on anatomical terms, networking expert Andrea Nierenberg suggests taking this quick test. Ask yourself the following nine question and rate your listening skills from 1-5. Be honest! 1.) Do I make sufficient eye contact? 2.) Do I ask for clarification? 3.) Do I show concern by acknowledging feelings? 4.) Do I try to understand the speaker’s point of view before giving mine? 5.) Am I poised and emotionally controlled. 6.) Do I react nonverbally with a smile or nod? 7.) Do I pay close attention and not let my mind wander? 8.) Do I avoid interrupting the speaker? 9.) Do I avoid abrupt subject changes? If you scored yourself honestly then here are the results. If you scored 35 to 45, you’re an “exceptional” listener, 25 to 34 is “very good”, 20 to 24 gets you an “average” score and 15 to 19 merits a “keep working, you’ll improve” score. And, if you scored below 15, INSTORE suggests a career change. [/dropcap]

[componentheading]DISPLAY[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Man’s World[/contentheading]

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[h4][b]Men’s jewelry is getting to be a big category, but it’s very new to many jewelers. What are some tips for displaying men’s jewelry?[/b][/h4]

Men make up roughly half the US population, but the mix of men’s jewelry in jewelry stores is typically 5% of their merchandise. But that may be changing as men are wearing more jewelry. According to Larry Johnson’s new book “The Complete Guide to Effective Jewelry Display”, on the average, men’s jewelry should be displayed in cases that are less than 6 feet in length with no less than 3 feet of space allocated for displaying merchandise. Given the infrequent nature of jewelry self-purchases by men, men’s jewelry should be out of the store’s normal traffic area.

Men tend to not like shopping near ladies’ goods. “Position your store’s men’s jewelry case next to the watch counter or the cash register area where they’ll be better attended,” suggests Johnson. For the display itself use larger elements (ring fingers, bracelet ramps and risers) in more “masculine” fabrics such as gray herringbone or other “suit” fabrics. Regarding the display of the jewelry itself, showcase items that facilitate a man’s infrequent self-purchases. This means dispense with price-point displays and group men’s jewelry with like items, such as tie-tacs with cufflinks.

Men’s jewelry is pretty much “no fuss no muss”, so use signage that enhances the appeal of the jewelry such as “14K” (gold) or “hand inlay”. For case trimmings avoid the sports and sports car clichés. Opt for more timeless display-case trimmings such as antique fly-fishing reels, old toy cars, or old sports items.

[componentheading]STORE DESIGN[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Sitting Pretty[/contentheading]

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[h4][b]Our staff is getting older. How can we develop an attractive, efficient area for them to take a seat on the sales floor?[/b][/h4]

Interior design expert Bruce Brigham, president of Retail Clarity Consulting, suggests that you look to Asia and Europe for inspiration. “Both of these regions have a long tradition of selling jewelry sitting down — both the customer and the sales person,” says Brigham. “It adds tremendous style and elegance to any store, and elevates you beyond the usual mass-
merchandising retail environment.” The addition of club seating or small sofas with coffee tables is a luxurious way to sell jewelry in a more personal way, says Brigham.

Also, a “work desk” introduced into the design can function as a great place to make calls and do paperwork, and yet easily accommodate a guest for more personal transactions. “If the work desk is carefully located for sightlines, you can still maintain control over your selling floor,” says Brigham. “And it is still very stylish to see a sales person sitting at an elegantly appointed work desk, taking care of business.” Make sure the design allows for easy-access storage, so when a customer comes in, paperwork can be whisked away to transform it back into an elegant selling location.

[componentheading]SELLING[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Control Your Customer[/contentheading]

[h4][b]I want to teach my salespeople that they don’t have to give away the farm to close the sale. What are some good techniques to help them stay in charge throughout their presentation?[/b][/h4]

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Hal Becker, co-author of Get What You Want!, says that “selling is first cousin to negotiating.” He offers these tips:
• Know your customer before you talk. Knowledge is power. If you have good intelligence, you can execute a better attack.
• Listen to the customer and do not interrupt. People love a good listener. Besides, what you blurt out could hurt you.
• Ask questions. Any question. Why? It puts you in control of the negotiation.
• Have great eye contact and smile. A pleasant demeanor shows sincerity, and people like to deal with people they like. Direct eye contact shows you have an interest in the customer.
• Learn to love silence. Sometimes you say more when you don’t talk, and you give the customer a chance to say “yes.”
• Learn to paraphrase. Restate what the customer has said. This shows you’re listening to them, and gives you an extra moment to think before you reply.
• Speak clearly and slow down your speech. It’s human nature to distrust a fast talker.

[componentheading]STORE DESIGN[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Outside Chance[/contentheading]

[h4][b]I want to freshen up my store’s exterior look with new landscaping. Any suggestions?[/b][/h4]

It’s absolutely possible to create a beautiful look on a budget, if you plan wisely. Start by choosing perennial flowers whenever possible, which give your store a consistent look along with reduced costs, says Ed LaFlamme, president of LaFlamme Landscape Management Co. Another great option is ornamental grasses, due to their variety and low maintenance needs. Grasses may be allowed to grow tall and can be used as screens and backdrops on their own or in conjunction with trees and shrubbery, LaFlamme says. “Different types used for variety in color and height can really add dimension to a center’s landscape,” he explains. In addition to pedestrian traffic, consider vehicular traffic, soil types and climate when choosing the foliage for your landscape.  

Finally, there are security considerations. Rather than planting large bushes that create concealed areas and hidden doorways, many stores are choosing upright trees with higher branches that contribute to open spaces.

[span class=note]This story is from the July 2006 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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