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David Geller

David Geller: Make Toast

It’s tough out there. But instilling some simple sales habits can turn your business around, says David Geller.




IN TODAY’S COMPETITIVE economy, every store is looking for ways to increase sales. The days of “open the door and they will come” are over! Unlike the 80s and 90s when selling was easier, stores have to fight for increasingly smaller shares of the customer’s pocketbook. With the Internet’s price transparency and ease of shopping, getting customers to come back into the store is an even bigger battle — even when your prices and services are much better than the competition’s.

There are only three ways to increase sales in a store:

  1. Increase the number of prospective customers (drive more traffic).
  2. Increase the average sale by either selling higher priced items or selling the customer more items per sale. (Sell a matching pair of earrings to go with the bracelet).
  3. Increase your closing ratio. (If you could sell to three out of every 10 people who come in your store, up from the current two, then you’d increase sales 50%!)

Think about this. If 10 people walk in and you sell two of them an average of $400, your sales are $800. But if you could increase the average sale to $450, total sales would be $900 — an increase of 12%. And if you could also increase the closing ratio and sell three people out of 10 an average of $450 that would bring you $1,350. That’s an increase of almost 70% from when you were selling just two people a $400 item each!

It takes a lot of activity in several areas of training to get this accomplished. But what’s the one simplest thing a store could do to achieve these same results? Glad you asked.

I visited a store several years ago that was doing many things right. Sales training was the key. In this year they went from $4.3 million in sales to $6.1 million. They had to be doing many things right.

Here’s one of the biggest:

I was sitting at a desk helping a staff member with shop issues when I heard a salesperson sitting at the next desk say:


“They’re so toast.”

I said “What did you say?”

“They’re sooooooooooooo toast!”

“What do you mean?”

“These men, they’re toast. They haven’t got a chance.”

So I asked the young sales staff member to explain.


“You see, our boss requires us, when we sell something or deliver a repair job, to ask every customer ‘What is the next piece of jewelry you want?’ Then we write this information on an info card with what they wanted, someone to contact and a date in the future. Usually a birthday, anniversary or holiday.”

“What if they don’t volunteer what they want or whom to contact?”

“We’ve been trained for espionage. We can find out the husband’s name, or where he works, by just chatting.”

“Then what?”

“Simple, we just hand-write these letters on company stationery to the guys letting them know that their wife saw something they liked while in our store and your anniversary is coming up in three weeks or whatever the occasion is.”

If you read my columns, you know I’m all about numbers. Closing ratios, average sale, etc. So I asked this young sales lady:


“So, how many actually buy?”

She said “Everyone!” I never believe 100% and said so. Her comment back was:

“When we send out these letters easily 90% of the men come in and buy the pieces I describe on these letters. They’re so toast!”

So, all that these staff members were doing was asking customers what they wanted in the future, keeping records and then at a future date writing letters to their men letting them know how the store was going to make their lives easy and their wives or girlfriends happy. They were increasing store traffic, their closing ratios and average sale all at the same time — all for the mere cost of paper and a stamp.

Think you could do this? Yeah, I think you could.

This story is from the July 2006 edition of INSTORE.






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