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Smooth Seller: Brigitte Gonzales

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One day, Brigitte Gonzales went shopping for clothes. But, instead, she found a job in a jewelry store.

[h3]Brigitte Gonzales[/h3]

[h5]Coffin & Trout Fine Jewelers; Chandler, AZ[/h5]

[componentheading]PROFILE[/componentheading]

Smooth Seller: Brigitte Gonzales

[dropcap cap=O]ne day, Brigitte Gonzales went shopping for clothes. But, instead, she found a job in a jewelry store. Building on an early career that began in Germany, Gonzales crossed the Big Pond to raise a family in the US. After an extended hiatus from selling jewelry, Gonzales returned to the sales floor. Changes in her personal life brought her to different jewelry stores in different cities, eventually settling down in Chandler, AZ. There she interviewed for a job with Coffin & Trout Fine Jewelers and, 13 years later, she is the store’s top sales associate. Selling jewelry comes naturally for Gonzales.  

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Coffin & Trout Fine Jewelers opened its doors in 1983 as a partnership between the store’s namesakes, David Trout and Randy Coffin. The store serves middle- and upper-class residents of Chandler, AZ, a city of just over 200,000 people. But, due to the store’s innovative marketing efforts and nationally-recognized jewelry designs, the store has a customer base that spans the United States. The store itself was designed to reflect the innovation and creativity of Coffin & Trout’s custom jewelry business. In 2001, the store won the ASID award for best retail design in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The store features Coffin & Trout jewelry designs and brand-name watches and has won nine international awards, including seven AGTA Spectrum awards.[/dropcap]

[componentheading]INTERVIEW[/componentheading]

• My average morning begins at around 5:00 or 5:30 AM. I get up with my husband and we do our morning exercises in our fitness area. After that we rest in the Jacuzzi for about 30 minutes. I sit and talk with my husband and have my first cup of coffee of the day, which gets me ready for the day.

[blockquote class=orange]When I make a big sale I like to reward myself with a facial, manicure and pedicure or a massage. I may even open a bottle of wine.[/blockquote]

• I update my customer book two to three times a week. My sales book includes my clients’ names and important dates for them. All sales information has been transferred to the store’s [POS] software. It took me about five years to come around, but working from the computer is a better and more convenient way to sell. I am able to look on the computer for a customer’s “gallery of purchases” and all their jewelry purchases are pictured. I continue to personalize and handwrite all of my thank-you notes.  

• When it comes to monthly targets,
I’m my own worst enemy. I always try to exceed my sales target. When sizing up how to increase my sales, I typically will look through the display cases in the store and establish a connection with a specific customer. I’ll call them in and invite them to see the piece. The invite to try the piece on may not be a sale that happens at that moment, but it gets them thinking about it for a future sale.  

• My favorite opening line
begins by making sure the customer is welcomed to Coffin & Trout. Through small talk I break down any initial reservations and get them involved with trying on our unique designs. Soon they know what makes us different from every other jeweler in town.  

• I don’t have a closing line per se.
My closing lines are personalized in each sale. Through the sale process and conversation, I’m able to get details that will help me find just the “right” piece for the occasion. My closing line will come from that conversation. We don’t use high-pressure sales techniques and that results in happy, repeat customers. I love selling jewelry and it comes naturally.  

• I have been invited to many birthdays and weddings. People invite friends to these events, not salespeople.  

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• A line I seem to get away with on difficult customers is “work with me here, I’m trying real hard.” We always put it on the lighter side while having some fun and joking around.

• I’m know as the grandmother of the store as I tend to focus on children a lot.  

• My personality may not be for everyone. If that’s the case, I turn over the sale to another associate because it’s about the customer and the store’s ability to serve them.

• When I’m not in the store,
I do worry about my customers. If there are important customer-related things happening on my day off, I’ll usually call in to the store at least one time that day to make sure all is well. Our sales staff works extremely well together and our customers can tell.

[blockquote class=orange]There’s no time limit we set with our customers. I enjoy staying with them as long as they need.[/blockquote]

• There’s no time limit we set with our customers. I enjoy staying with them as long as they need. During the time I spend with a customer, my talking and listening is evenly split 50-50. Ears are a better sales tool than a mouth. Most salespeople don’t take enough time to listen.  

• If I weren’t selling jewelry,
I’d probably be selling real estate. It’s another area of selling that is very people-oriented. But that will never happen because I’m 100 percent in love with selling our Coffin & Trout designs.  

• When I make a big sale I like to reward myself with a facial, manicure and pedicure or a massage. I may even open a bottle of wine.

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[span class=note]This story is from the September 2005 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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