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Shane Decker

Keep ‘The Bogey’ out of Your Game

Part 2 of 3 columns on better sales-floor negotiating.

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ON A GOLF COURSE, you earn a bogey when you’re one stroke over par — in other words, you’re one stroke off the pace. One worse than average.

In jewelry sales, the customer I call “The Bogey” isn’t just a little below average, he’s way below average (average price, I mean). In other words, he’s asking for a big discount. The Bogey technique is usually used by men, and it’s always a bluff.

You’ll know your client is a Bogey when he says, “I love your $6,000 ring, but I only have $3,000.” A lot of sales associates fall for this and begin to discount the product.

To avoid Bogeys, your first order of business is to fully romance the sale during your presentation. You need to romance four areas: beauty of the product, value-added statements, features-advantages-benefits, and the reason the client came in.

Romancing product beauty is self-explanatory, and even a novice can do it. Value-added statements require more expertise. In a value-added statement, the sales associate uses her gemological knowledge and product knowledge in order to persuade the customer of an item’s worth.

When romancing features-advantages-benefits, features are always facts, such as, “Diamonds are the world’s hardest known substance.” The advantage is always the advantage to the client, such as, “Because diamonds are the hardest known substance, they’re scratch-resistant.” The benefit is the natural result (i.e., “Because diamond is the hardest known substance and is scratch-resistant, you can wear it every day of your life and pass it down to the next generation”).

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And, of course, when you romance the reason the client came in, making it seem like a bigger deal than they even thought it was, the price becomes insignificant (see my January 2007 column, “Find the Why” on instoremag.com, for more details).

The better you romance these four areas, the fewer Bogeys and price objections you’ll have.

Of course, no matter how well you romance, you may still see a Bogey or two. Instead of negotiating on price, you can answer, “$3,000? That would be a great down payment; let’s put the rest on layaway (or financing).” Or you might reply, “That’s a great payment for starters. Surely you have a Mastercard or Visa, and we’ll just apply the balance.”

Your other alternative is called option negotiation, which means changing the options on the item to fit the customer’s budget. For example, you might ask: “Are you telling me that all you actually have is $3,000?” His answer is “yes.” You can then say, “Well, I can take out this one-carat diamond and put a half-carat of the same color, clarity, and shape into this mounting for you, and sell it to you for $3,000.” He’s still getting a beautiful diamond ring, and you keep your integrity. If he comes back and says, “I don’t want the half-carat, I want the 1-carat,” you then say, “Well, that’s $6,000.” Holding firm shows him that you’re not willing to negotiate.

Your job as a sales associate is to make sure the client gets the most satisfaction with the least amount of concessions as possible. So remember: the Bogey is always a bluff. Don’t fall for it!

Next month: The Krunch.

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