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Shane Decker

Shane Decker: Find Out Their Budget (Without Asking For It)




Coming up with the right questions can make the difference between a defensive client and a lifelong customer.

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 edition of INSTORE.

Want to know what’s worse than assaulting a client with bad breath or smelly body odor? Asking them what their budget is!


OK, maybe it’s not quite that bad, but you get the point. One of the biggest mistakes that salespeople make is asking clients, “How much do you want to spend?”, “What is your budget?”, or “Do you have a particular price point you want to stick to?” Asking these questions makes clients think you only care about the money they’re spending; you don’t care about them. If you ask this of a male client who is there with a wife or girlfriend, you’ve embarrassed him by putting him into a price box in front of her. He doesn’t want her to think he’s cheap. You’ve put him on the defensive. Asking about budget can also make clients feel pre-judged on their spending ability, which can keep them from coming in again.



So how do you discover how much the client wants to spend? By asking the proper questions. There are two types of questions: Relationship-building and selling-specific (finding out what the client wants). Never make the presentation about yourself; always make it about the gift and the person receiving it. Here are some questions and openers:


Are you looking for a gift for someone special?
Did he or she give you any hints?
What did you have in mind?
I can tell you’re on a mission.
What’s in your notes?
I can tell you’re in a hurry.
Do you know what size diamond you want? (Then you can follow up with “Do you know what shape?”, “Do you know about the four C’s?”, and “What clarity do you want?”)


Once he’s answered these questions, you know what he wants and you can figure out what he wants to spend.



Let’s say you ask, “Do you know what she wants?” and he replies, “Yes, 2-carat total weight studs.” You then show him a pair that’s $3,995. Now he says, “I can’t spend that much.” You then reply, “What are you comfortable with?” (Remember, you don’t use the words money or budget.) Now you’re being respectful of his buying ability, it sounds like you really care about him and not his money, and the word “comfortable” makes it easy for him to say the dollar amount. This changes the client’s attitude about what he thinks is important to you.


Do not sell out of your own pocketbook. Never pre-judge. Always assume that every client you wait on is a millionaire. Assume you will close the sale and that you’ll have an add-on — and that you’ll wow them before they leave. Have them thinking on their way out that this jewelry was the greatest they’ve ever purchased and that yours is the best jewelry store they’ve ever visited. Make it about them, the item or the event — it makes their gift-buying idea more important in their mind.


Shane Decker has provided sales training for more than 3,000 stores worldwide. Contact him at ( 719) 488-4077 or at




When There’s No Succession Plan, Call Wilkerson

Bob Wesley, owner of Robert C. Wesley Jewelers in Scottsdale, Ariz., was a third-generation jeweler. When it was time to enjoy life on the other side of the counter, he weighed his options. His lease was nearing renewal time and with no succession plan, he decided it was time to call Wilkerson. There was plenty of inventory to sell and at first, says Wesley, he thought he might try to manage a sale himself. But he’s glad he didn’t. “There’s no way I could have done this as well as Wilkerson,” he says. Wilkerson took responsibility for the entire event, with every detail — from advertising to accounting — done, dusted and managed by the Wilkerson team. “It’s the complete package,” he says of the Wilkerson method of helping jewelers to easily go on to the next phase of their lives. “There’s no way any retailer can duplicate what they’ve done.”

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