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A Few Opening Lines to Get Past a Customer’s Reflexive Defenses … and More of Your Questions for June

Plus, how to deal with showroomers.

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Numerous times your experts have told us, don’t use “How can I help you?” or “How are you today?” to greet a customer. But it seems today’s shoppers have been programmed to deflect just about any question. What to do?

Simple: Stop asking questions, or at least questions that can be answered with “No, thanks” or “Fine, thanks” or a dismissive smile. Watch a great salesperson in action and you’ll notice they often start with statements:

“Let me tell you what you are looking at …”

“That’s what we in the business call a statement piece. Would you like to try on a 5-carat diamond ring?”

“Hey there, you look a bit lost (to a man hovering around your Valentine’s Day display) …

“Ring sizer to the rescue!” (to a customer struggling with the size of a fashion ring)

“I bet your jewelry box looks just like this.”

“I love your bangle — what a great style!” (Because it’s coming from a jewelry expert, you’ve just made her day, and set yourself up for a sale.)

Obviously force of personality matters, but so does effort. Before approaching a customer, pay attention to her and then say something that shows her you’re paying attention. Shameless sincere flattery about the jewelry she’s wearing or her outfit nearly always works.

To be sure, customers, especially ear-budded millennials, often want some time to just explore by themselves (SMART Show speaker and retail expert Paco Underhill says the telltale sign of a woman wanting help is that her head will start to swing.) But for the most part, you’re only limited by your imagination.

I bought my store from my grandmother, who opened the business in the 1970s, when downtown was the place to be. But the neighborhood is aging and business is not so great. I’m torn between the cheaper option — investing to bring the store up to date — and relocating. What do you suggest?

Let location guide your decision. When we ask jewelers about their greatest regrets, “not moving earlier,” is among the most frequently cited. Spend time studying the options — customer demographics, the competition, the reasons people go to shop there (Is it to browse or rush in an pick up a loaf of bread?), local regulations, passing traffic … even the side of the street can make a big difference — and then put your faith in retail’s most important rule: location, location, location. “A move to a new location can easily increase sales 30 to 50 percent in the first year of the move, says sales trainer Shane Decker, who has visited thousands of stores around the country. Jay Klos, who won our America’s Coolest Store contest last year after moving to a new part of town and building his dream store, says it’s a good idea to put together a shortlist of several potential properties so you don’t become fixated on one spot.

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How do I deal with showroomers?

• The first thing to do with these cellphone-armed comparison shoppers is just relax. Today, everyone’s a showroomer. In fact, you may want to encourage such behavior by making your store smartphone friendly with QR codes and SMS gateways in your windows and with showcases that connect to mobile-optimized Web pages that put information about your jewelry in the palms of your customers’ hands. With a bit of luck they’ll share it via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or email in just a click. The second thing to do is strategic. Fighting on price these days is a losing battle, so you should be:

• Emphasizing benefits such as the expertise available only at your store.

• Offer services unavailable from Internet vendors.

• Curating your assortments ever more carefully. Include unique items that cannot be found easily online.

A clothes retailer has asked me to take part in a fashion show. Should I do it?

Sure, it sounds like a great chance to expose your goods to a new crowd. The main thing to be aware of is that it’s pretty hard to see jewelry on a runway. If it’s just some models mingling with a regular crowd in a boutique situation, that should be fine, although if it’s a larger show in, say a mall setting, you may want to think about projecting images onto a back wall. Be sure to find out what co-promotions your friend had in mind. Will you get access to her mailing list, be able to follow up after the event?

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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