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Smooth Seller: Brad Price

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Ohio salesperson sells high-end jewels with high-touch service

[h3]Brad Price[/h3]

[h5]Krombholz Jewelers; Cincinnati, OH[/h5]

[componentheading]PROFILE[/componentheading]

Smooth Sellers: Brad Price

BRAD PRICE
Age: 40 
Years in jewelry sales: 20 
2004 Sales: $1.2 million

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[dropcap cap=B]rad Price learned right away that big retail wasn’t for him. After leaving a large retail chain for family-owned Krombholz Jewelers, he knew he could once again enjoy retail – and, more importantly Christmas. Price was right. Over time, he has moved from salesperson to become the vice president of the business. His chief duty is managing the Versailles Room, Krombholz’s exclusive high-end showroom, where Price’s closing ratio averages 75%.[/dropcap]

KROMBHOLZ JEWELERS
Location: Cincinnati, OH 
Years in business: 65 
Number of staff: 6

This third-generation generation business is located in the historic neighborhood of Montgomery, 15 miles northeast of downtown Cincinnati. The homey store features designers like Chad Allison, Mark Patterson, Hidalgo, Simon G and Lyric. About 35% of what Krombholz sells is actually made in it own design studio in-store shop. One other unique feature is its private viewing salon called Versailles. This area features Krombholz upper-end merchandise, which accounts for over a third of its overall sales.

[componentheading]Smooth Seller Interview[/componentheading]

• My largest sale ever was a necklace and pendant design. The pendant was set with a 40-carat Ceylon blue sapphire accented with 80 carats of diamonds. I sold it to my favorite client, a woman who is an exceptional collector of fine jewelry. When the necklace came in, I took a picture of it, sent it to her and told her the piece was of exceptional quality and would make a good addition to her jewelry collection.

[blockquote class=orange] One thing about this store is that we’re blessed with many good clients. [/blockquote]

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• The same customer made my biggest sales day possible. She was interested in an 11-carat cushion-cut diamond. She has small hands so we had to size the ring that was set with such a large stone. While she was waiting I showed her a phenomenal platinum and diamond bracelet. I placed it on her arm and told her it was $250,000. She said she’d take it.

• She’s my favorite customer because she is a collector of fine things and is passionate about jewelry. She has been shopping here for over 20 years. At first she started coming in with her husband and purchased some very nice pieces in the $20,000 to $40,000 range – sometimes up to $50,000. Since her husband’s death she has been spending considerably more on single jewelry purchases. She is struggling with health issues, so she has made it pretty clear that her jewelry buying is near its end. Even though I know she doesn’t plan on buying any more jewelry, I still call or send her a card letting her know we have something in the store I think she might enjoy looking at or trying on. At this store we’re very much about show and tell.

• The angriest I’ve ever been in the store is when a man came in to sell a ruby and diamond cluster ring. We buy from the public and normally such transactions go smoothly. But this old gentleman brought in a very standard ruby and diamond ring. I told him upfront that I wasn’t interested in buying it and offered to give him what I thought was a fair assessment of the ring’s value for his sake. I gave him my best opinion and he went ballistic. He started yelling and screaming in the store so I showed him the door. He said “I’m never coming back to this store”, to which I responded “Promise?” Eventually he left the store. I told the four or five customers in the store who witnessed the event that “the show was over and we can return to our lives”. This gentleman was an exception.

[blockquote class=orange]A customer gave me a great referral and I found out the person’s favorite restaurant, then gave them a $250 gift certificate. [/blockquote]

• The amount of homework I do depends mainly on the project I’m working on for a client. If they have a very specific request – like a Burma ruby or Kashmir sapphire – I want to have as much knowledge as I can on the stone from finding a good unheated stone to legend and lore. I also read articles in Gems & Gemology to keep up on gemology matters and flip through the fashion mags like W, Town & Country and Vogue for trends news. I write the store’s lifestyle quarterly newsletter, so writing and publishing the newsletter reinforces the homework I do.

• When I have free time, I’ll walk through the store. I’ll check the display cases and make notes on items that might be a good match for certain clients.

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[blockquote class=orange] When I send a note, I have my own special monogram stationery with the Versailles Room’s logo on it. All notes are handwritten and the envelopes have a wax seal. [/blockquote]

•  When I’m phoning, I start by calling the clients who I have a good relationship with as I’m more familiar with them. If it’s a newer client I’ll send a note first as it’s less intrusive. The letters are well received. I’ve sold a number of pieces based on this level of service that brings it to the private jeweler concept. I even do home and office visits.

• My most memorable client visit was when a special client’s daughter was getting married. They wanted to borrow a significant pair of diamond earrings, which mushroomed into other pieces of jewelry. This was a special client, so we didn’t mind. I was to deliver the jewelry on the day of the bride-to-be’s [bridal] shower. I wanted to present it to her in a special way so I had the jewelry specially wrapped in handmade wrapping paper, decorated it with bows and flowers. When I presented it to her it was done on a silver tray. This was a surprise for her, so when I showed up with the jewelry I simply said I had a special delivery. As it turned out, at the bridal shower she had discovered that she didn’t have something borrowed to wear on her wedding day. She was so taken back with the surprise that she invited me to stay, gave me champagne and food and asked to stay around for the opening of the presents.

• There’s really no one way to surprise your customers. You have to look at each person individually, be it their hobbies or their personality. For an older couple celebrating a milestone anniversary, I tried to organize and horse-drawn carriage ride to their anniversary dinner, but the husband’s health was too frail for that. And, one time an in-store event morphed into a discussion on colored stones at my house over a nice dinner for a few select clients.

[blockquote class=orange]I’ve done over-the-top services for customers like sending a limousine to pick them up for a store event. [/blockquote]

• I’m almost always amazed how people stay in business the way they sell. It’s not just bad sales, but customer service as well. There’s no real product knowledge there or an attempt to gain knowledge of the customer’s needs.  

• My dress varies from wool pants and a cashmere turtleneck to a suit and tie. The way I dress depends on what I have to do that day. Over the last year or so, I have been wearing a suit more. I find that when I wear a suit and keep it on all day, customers, whether they’re existing clients or new ones, will always shake my hand first. When I dress more casually, customers rarely shake my hand.

• We do let people borrow significant pieces of jewelry for big events. One time, I took six customers to an antique and art show. It wasn’t a formal event but was a dress-up event with tickets going for $150 each. Each person who went wore significant pieces of jewelry. As it worked out, I made a client from that event who eventually bought a four- or five-carat diamond ring.

[blockquote class=orange]My long-term goal is to sell a seven-figure piece of jewelry. [/blockquote]

• I prefer that people are happy with every piece of jewelry they buy from me. I don’t want buyer’s remorse. The piece of jewelry they don’t want or don’t like is attached to the salesperson’s name and the store’s name.

• For someone on their first day on the job I’d definitely encourage product knowledge and learning to make your customer happy.

• I had a woman come in with a $3,000 to $5,000 budget for a ring she wanted. I showed her a ring that sold for $60,000. She loved it so much she bought it. I called her a week or so later fearing that she had spent too much. Shortly into the call she stopped me to say she knew why I was calling and not to worry that she spent too much money. She absolutely loved the ring and has no regrets about buying it. That’s why you should always show pieces above the person’s budget. It’s also a way of conveying that you think they can afford more.

• I know it’s time to take a break when I start concentrating on my breathing in mid-presentation. If I’m concentrating on my breathing and counting to 10, it’s time to take a half-day break. Sometimes I’ll simply go home on a slow day and take a nap. Other times I’ll walk around an antique store or roam a book store.

[span class=note]This story is from the January 2006 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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