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Greg Stopka: Selling Pretty Pictures

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For all its creative power, CAD can be a clunky sales assistant.


This article originally appeared in the January 2015 edition of INSTORE.

Even though CAD technology has grown in sophistication, it has never fully addressed the $65,000 question: How do you use this advanced equipment to support a presentation and sell stuff?

As a custom designer, your objective in meeting with a customer for the first time should be to settle on a design idea. Getting in front of a client with a computer screen tends to make the experience too daunting. The technology also doesn’t lend itself well to the relaxed exchange of ideas that leads to an initial design, or the excitement that will result in a commitment to a custom job.

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As such, I introduce the CAD technology later in the sales process and start with a pencil and scratch paper to rough out a simple concept. This basic draft is the hook that encourages the client to move forward.

&#8220Always start by
asking the client

for any ideas
they may have. &#8221

Some jewelers will use the first meeting to take notes and then offer to come up with a selection of designs that they can show the client at a later date. But doing it this way takes time and there is no guarantee of a sale. I prefer to produce a rough draft inspired by the client that can then be estimated out. Doing it this way will often win a commitment to either a sale or an agreement for you to develop a selection of designs for a small fee (if necessary).

Following is a breakdown of the drafting process I use and some ideas that can help capture design sales:

1. Have the client sit down to ensure they are comfortable. You can’t design standing up yet it’s surprising how many jewelers try to design at one end of a retail counter.

2. Always start by asking the client for any ideas they may have. They are coming to you to create from either an idea, an image, or a drawing. Sometimes they will not have a clue what they want. Your objective is to have them focus on a design idea that can be turned into a draft, which they can commit to.

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3. Start asking questions about the physical look they might want. As they answer, start drawing, so the magic unfolds before them on the paper. While sketching, they will interject with things they want added or taken away. That’s good. The important thing is that they start to take ownership of the design.

4. List by shape and size anything that they bring to add to the design. Most design sales today are redesigns; clients like to incorporate gemstones or diamonds that are important to them.

5. Now it’s time to introduce CAD and its capabilities. My idea of a CAD demonstration is that it should be able to keep pace with the speed at which you present. Most 3-D CAD programs are jewelry-modeling programs, and it can be difficult to present and model at the same time. It is best to work with rendered images of CAD models that you can provide for the client to view. There are inexpensive graphic programs such as Photoshop, ACDC, and PhotoImpact that will allow you to catalog rendered CAD designs. From this selection of designs, you can continue to build on the original sketches.

Another way to present CAD designs is to look into a great 2-D program called Digital Goldsmith from Gemvision. This programallows you to bring up designs and set gemstones and diamonds onto them to create a more finished looking design for final draft presentation.

The goal of any CAD-based presentation should be to arrive at a draft idea and have the client commit a deposit to move the project forward. This is a straightforward and profitable way to gain the client’s confidence and get paid up front for your time and skills.

Greg Stopka owns virtual design studio JEWELSMITHS in Pleasant Hill, CA, and VisualJeweler, which provides online training on how to present and sell virtual jewelry programs.

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