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Smooth Sellers

Smooth Seller: Bonnie Wetmore

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This Ohio “Smooth Seller” took a wrong turn to get into the jewelry business — and is very glad she did.

[h3]Bonnie Wetmore[/h3]

[h5]Pugh’s Diamond Jewelers; Zanesville, OH[/h5]

[componentheading]PROFILE[/componentheading]

[dropcap cap=B]onnie Wetmore has been working for Pugh’s Diamond Jewelers for over four years. In that time, she has become the store’s top salesperson with just over $500,000 in sales last year and boasts of a 70 percent closing ratio. Pugh’s has been a family-owned business since 1949. Since the store moved from a location in downtown Zanesville to its present site on Brandywine Boulevard, Pugh’s has grown into one of the largest full-service, family-owned jewelry stores in Ohio.[/dropcap]

[componentheading]INTERVIEW[/componentheading]

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• To sell jewelry, you must get the jewelry on the customer. Let them feel it and see how beautiful they look in it. Let them know they can’t live without it. Just like a new car — you drive it, you want it. 

I got my start in jewelry retail sales by accident! I had just moved to Zanesville with my husband and was getting to know the area. I actually pulled into the Pugh’s Diamond Jewelers parking lot by accident after making a wrong turn. The store looked beautiful and inviting and, of course, I love to look at diamonds. Big ones! When I came in to the store a girl showed me a two-carat diamond. She asked me if I was interested in buying the diamond, and I said that I loved it but actually I had just sold my business and had better get a job first. She called one of the owners over (Dan Pugh), who asked me if I would be interested in a job … It has been a wonderful decision, I love the challenge and there is always change. This has been the best wrong turn I have ever made. Thank you, Dan and Patrick Pugh.

I get mad at myself when I forget a person’s name during a sales presentation. 

I know a sale is going south when a customer says they need to get a second opinion on a buy decision. 

The most memorable sale of my career was when one time I had an older gentleman come in to the store in biker clothing. He wanted to see some diamonds, so I showed him some Hearts On Fire diamonds. After showing him some diamonds and giving my presentation he really didn’t say much. Then he shook my hand and said — I’ll be back in one year to buy this diamond. I can’t buy it today because I’m putting some money down for a special edition Harley, which won’t be ready for one year. I will be back.” About a year later, we heavily promoted a Hearts On Fire event and the store was very busy. I was juggling three customers when a colleague told me there was a gentleman waiting to see me. She pointed to a man across the room. I went over and said hello, and he asked if I remembered him. I said, “Yes, I do. You’re the Harley Davidson guy”. I knew what he wanted. I took the man and his wife to the diamond counter and I could tell she was absolutely shocked. She had no idea she was about to get one of the most beautiful diamonds she had ever seen. I showed her the HOF diamond and her face told it all. Her husband said “We’ll take it! She said, “Oh, my God! I hope our credit card will accept this! We just paid for his Harley!” The tears wouldn’t stop.

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Part of my homework is shopping other jewelry stores. I always learn something, especially how they treat customers. I basically do anything I can to help me be better at my job. 

I know it’s time to take a few days off when my energy level is down. I have a very high energy level and when it’s down I take a few days off. Facing the general public day after day really takes it out of a person. It’s a lot like going on stage and performing. When I’m on the sales floor, the curtains are open. And when the store’s closed, the show’s over.

[blockquote class=orange]I get mad at myself when I forget a person’s name during a sales presentation.[/blockquote]

I like to sell diamond jewelry. I like to sell and wear diamond jewelry. I like simple and elegant jewelry that can be worn with other jewelry to stack, match and mix jewelry. I do not wear outside jewelry. I wear jewelry to show off to our customers. We have beautiful jewelry in our store.

My favorite thing about my job is the competition. Each customer is a challenge and I compete for that sale. They may not know they want jewelry but I know they do. 

The thing that bugs me the most is when customers can’t make up their mind. “Should I buy the white gold 18-inch chain or the yellow gold 18-inch chain?” I always say, “Why not buy them both?

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To make sure a customer comes back and asks for me I always give them my business card, and ask them to ask for me, because by the time they leave I’ve made them my friend. And I ask them to give my business card to a friend. 

When I make my first approach to a customer, I’m thinking about what type of jewelry I’m going to sell them. I look a customer over by checking out their clothes, shoes, appearance … everything I try to get a feel for them. Somehow without realizing it, I can visualize certain jewelry on certain people. It really works for me. So I rarely show the same piece of jewelry to every single customer that walks into the store. They are all different.

[span class=note]This story is from the July 2004 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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Smooth Sellers

Smooth Seller: Donna Burgess, Occasions Fine Jewelry, Midland, TX

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Donna Burgess

Occasions Fine Jewelry, Midland, TX

Although you might not suspect it upon first chatting with the amiable, conversationally gifted Donna Burgess, the 57-year-old Tennessee native is a Type A personality who gets straight to the point, and the point is to sell jewelry. At an average sale of just over $900, she sells plenty of it to achieve annual personal sales approaching $3 million. If you need more evidence this grandmother of 11 is a shark, she relaxes by reading murder mysteries, especially the serial-killer kind. — EILEEN McCLELLAND

You have to listen as much to what’s not being said as to what’s being said — and then get straight to the point. If you are in the fashion jewelry area and a man has come in and you show him something that isn’t very expensive and he says, "My wife wouldn’t wear anything like that, it’s too gaudy," you know you are in the wrong area of the store and in the wrong price range. So go for something totally opposite.

We sell more to men than to women, and most men don’t care to shop. They don’t want to see everything in the store. Most of the time, if you ask them what they are thinking about, they don’t have a clue. So I’ll usually pull out a pendant and start with something basic. If he says, "Oh, no, she’s got one of those," then go to something that’s a little bit out there.

You can say, "I’ve got the perfect thing." Get it into their head that you have what they need. Be confident. Be direct. Don’t say, "Well, this might work."

Learn your product. Walk around the cases and know where you are going to take your customer ahead of time. Don’t waste their time trying to find something. That way you look more confident, you look more professional, and you’ll make many, many more sales.

I wear very classic jewelry. A pair of diamond studs, a pair of inside-out diamond hoops, an inline tennis bracelet, a solitaire pendant, a couple of Simon G rings and a gold ankle bracelet. So I sell a lot of inside-out earrings, that’s my go-to staple for an anniversary. I’ve also had people who notice my necklace. You sell what you wear. I’ve even sold a few gold ankle bracelets.

When I started I took every “no” personally. You can’t do that. Everybody’s going to hear “no”.

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Smooth Sellers

Smooth Sellers: Blake Simmons

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Smooth Sellers: Blake Simmons 

BY EILEEN MCCLELLAND

Published in the May 2013 issue

STORE NAME: Simmons Fine Jewelry
LOCATION: Meridian, ID

Blake Simmons graduated from Boise State University in 2011 with degrees in business management and marketing. Following graduation, he immediately demonstrated his sales prowess by selling more than $1 million in his first year of working full time at his family’s business. Simmons has been married for five years to his wife, Jill, and in his spare time he loves hunting, riding motorcycles, skiing and snowboarding.

My father has always said, “We don’t sell jewelry, we sell romance.” I have found this very true in my own sales especially to men buying for their wives, and it makes a big difference in the way a sale goes if I can help the customer to forget about the amount of money they are spending on “just a little rock.”

Don’t short yourself. Always show big to sell big. If that doesn’t work, scale it down, but if you have the mentality that someone can’t afford something you won’t ever sell big pieces.

I earned a bachelor’s of Entrepreneurial Management, and if I weren’t selling jewelry, I would find a way to create a business to go along with my passion for the outdoors.

I do most of the social media for our store. It’s such a great way to facilitate sales to the younger generation.

I like to wish happy birthday and anniversary via text. I have had customers come in and purchase for the occasion as a result of a text.

The book that had the biggest effect on the way I sell was Start With Why. It’s a very simple read, but if an individual can learn their “why” they will be driven to succeed continually.

We recently started to host an annual Vault Sale. We take the older merchandise in the store and offer it to our best customers at incredible discounts. The customers love to come and usually buy multiple items.

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Smooth Sellers

Smooth Sellers: Gennifer Flaxman

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Smooth Sellers: Gennifer Flaxman 

BY EILEEN MCCLELLAND

Published in the April 2013 issue

STORE NAME: Bernie Robbins Jewelers
LOCATION: Marlton, NJ

Gennifer Flaxman had what she described as her 15 minutes of fame when she won an audition for a Weight Watchers commercial, filmed in November 2012. She says her first trip to Los Angeles felt like an out-of-body experience. It all happened right around the time she reached her goal of losing 99 pounds. Transforming herself has exponentially ramped up her confidence. “I am more comfortable suggesting more fashion-forward pieces now because I feel I am regarded differently. I’m more personable and friendly, too. I always had great rapport with existing customers but I feel I am doing a better job now of garnering new clients. I wear the jewelry in the store and I find I am selling more pieces off me than I ever did before. If you look better, your jewelry looks better and people are more interested in purchasing it.” Still, there has been one annoying glitch — some of her less regular customers don’t recognize her, and wind up working with someone else!

To get psyched up for the day, I listen to music on the way to work — I usually have two favorite songs at a time (my two favorite right now are Bruno Mars, Locked Out of Heaven, and Maroon Five, One More Night — and I cycle through them, listen to them and yell the words at the top of my lungs.

 My background in social work absolutely does influence my approach to selling jewelry. I don’t realize I’m even doing it, but I tend to get to the emotional needs while I’m selling — what the gift means, what they want it to mean, trying to make it more important and more memorable.

 I do call certain customers, but calling has become a lot more obsolete. A lot of clients much prefer texting. I sold a $74,000 watch from a text conversation. The owners of Bernie Robbins are less than pleased with the use of cellphones on the floor —but they are a necessary evil.

 With cellphones, you are on call all the time. There is no such thing as time off any longer. If a customer wants to come in for a repair, chances are I’ll be there. Because how do you show up for the sale and not for the repair, even if it is your first Sunday off in six weeks?

 I happen to have a ridiculous, crazy memory. I don’t need to write things down, I retain the information. When you remember something about them that’s personal, it makes for a relationship instead of just a sale.

 I drink a lot of coffee; and a good workout is something that also gets me raring to go and psyched up.

 I always greet people with a hello or a welcome. I cringe when I hear, “How are you?” I absolutely cringe. I take the old school approach to building rapport — I comment on someone’s hair or jacket — because if you’re genuine about it, it really works.

 I ask for a sale by talking about payment options. In this store, regardless of income or wealth, we offer almost everyone the opportunity to use our credit, and we have an interest-free option. So that’s almost always how I ask for a sale. I look for buying signals, I use credit as my opening, and if they say they don’t need it, I’ll ask questions about when they plan to give it, and what else they’ve seen, what reservations they have. Then I do the hardest thing for the salesperson to do, which is shut up. Especially for me.

 I have what is called my mojo ring. I pick one piece of jewelry and wear it for a long period of time; I say it gives me my mojo, but I always wind up selling it off me. Currently, it’s a stack of Ippolita bangles that I’ve been wearing for months.

 My favorite type of customer has evolved. Now my favorite customer is a repeat customer. I take such satisfaction when someone comes in and asks for me, even if it’s just for a repair, because it shows me I’ve given them good service.

 My most memorable sale was to a gentleman purchasing a ring for his wedding anniversary. He was going to be deployed to Iraq by the time the ring was ready, and when his wife came in, we had him Skyped in. We presented her with flowers and had dog tags inscribed for their sons. It allowed them to celebrate their anniversary even though they were miles apart. It was about a $25,000 sale, but it was the kind of sale that made you feel good about what you were doing and the memory you were giving.

 My biggest sales day was $176,000. I sold a diamond watch (A Rolex Daytona over the phone), a diamond engagement ring, and a whole lot of little things.

 I am the toughest critic with a salesperson. I have walked out of so many stores if I’m not happy with the service. I’m interested to see if once they ask me my name they are interested in using it afterward. 

 In my nine years at Bernie Robbins, there was only one year when I did not achieve $1 million in sales, and that was in 2007. Each year, when I finally get there, I take a deep sigh and feel that the pressure is off, and once the pressure is off, that’s when I soar.

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