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Smooth Seller: David Goldsmith

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“Trust the customer’s eye for what they want — they’re more likely to leave with something they really treasure” says this Smooth Seller from Greenwich, CT.

[h3]David Goldsmith[/h3]

[h5]Manfredi Jewelers; Greenwich, CT[/h5]

[componentheading]PROFILE[/componentheading]

[dropcap cap=A]NYTHING BUT JEWELRY. That’s what a young David Goldsmith always said when asked about his future career path. But fate had other plans — just as it did with David’s father, Lew Goldsmith, who, as a teenager, washed cars in a Manhattan parking garage. Tired of his daily grind, Lew decided to ask the next person who walked in for a job. Turned out that person owned National Watch on 47th Street, and the elder Goldsmith was off and running in the jewelry industry. Lew was pressed into service at the bench when the company’s jeweler called in drunk. Over the years, he ran a manufacturing plant, a refinery and even worked with laser-drilled diamonds before opening his own retail store. When David graduated from college, he had yet to land a job when his cousin (also his father’s store manager) took an extended leave of absence. David filled in … and stuck around for eight years before leaving in 1998. He was all set to sign a contract with Zales, but a friend introduced him to the owner of Manfredi Jewels, Roberto Chiappelloni. The match was perfect, and David, now 38, never looked back. And based on his subsequent success — he did $2.4 million in 2006 sales — it seems fate knew best, after all.

[componentheading]INTERVIEW[/componentheading]

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• My favorite sale ever was in the high $200,000 range — a fancy intense yellow, IF diamond, radiant cut. The customer was looking in the 8- to 10-carat range, and needed just the right diamond to surprise his wife. We had picked out a stone that was just over 10 carats. But, I had placed a call to a friend of mine, a diamond broker, and he said he had a stone I had to see. He brought in a diamond slightly more than 12 carats — gorgeous. I called the client and said, “I found the stone. Come check it out.” He said: “I’ll take it. I’ll be there in a while to pick it up.” Having that kind of trust from someone was unbelievable — he spent a quarter-million dollars and confirmed it by a phone call, knowing I wouldn’t steer him wrong. That made the sale really special. 

[blockquote class=orange]I go into each day with a list of things I need to accomplish and then I let the day take me along. [/blockquote]

• My favorite type of client is one who, in a very personal way, is involved in a business of their own. That kind of customer sees the value of what they’re buying because they know the value of what they’re working for. It could be the fineness and detail of a complicated timepiece, or a wonderfully cut diamond, or a handmade piece of jewelry. Business owners understand the time and labor that’s gone into making the product in a more complete way than most.

• My education is ongoing, and it started by watching things my father did. At 8 years of age, I was putting chains together when I stayed home sick from school, because I had to do something. Today, our goldsmiths appreciate that I understand the technical nature of their job. But when it comes to jewelry repair and manufacture, there’s always something new to learn.

• One of my greatest loves is baseball. I love the psychology of the game. People complain because baseball isn’t full of action — well, it isn’t! But that’s what I enjoy about it. So many decisions happen before the action that it’s more of a mental game, like a chess match being played out in a physical way.

[blockquote class=orange]The essence of the jewelry business is about a connection between the soul of a customer and the soul of a jewelry piece.[/blockquote]

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• I’m a control freak. I have to try really hard not to micro-manage. The best way to manage is to find a person’s talents and see what they can do. It serves them well, and the business well. I spend a lot of time restraining myself from saying, “I want this done like this.”

• When I sell a piece of jewelry, I like to stand next to the client, not across the counter from them. I don’t like the separation. I like to be next to them and help them appreciate what they’re looking at.

• I’m an advocate for my clients. Of course I suggest pieces I think they’ll love, but my job is to help them find what they want, not sell them what I need to sell.

• When you genuinely care about your clients, it comes through. I can’t know each one as personally as I’d like, with 6,500 clients on our list, even if only 50 percent are truly active. But for those that are “my clients,” I know them, their spouses and their family members. When I got home from a recent hospital stay, I had a package of DVDs from a client — each person in the family had picked out one, including the children, the in-laws, even the housekeeper. That kind of thing is terrifically rewarding, both personally and financially.

• Too many stores do things in formulaic ways. Sometimes, those formulas are based on sound business practices … but do they ever go outside the rules to make decisions to improve their businesses? Sometimes, if you go off the board, you create your own identity. It doesn’t make things easier, but it’s more fun, and it helps customers identify you as an individual store.

• When a customer walks in, I begin a conversation, not a sales pitch. I never begin by telling them about merchandise. I want to talk to them as a person talks to another person, rather than talking about jewelry right away.

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• I’m not a great closer. I don’t tend to ask for the sale in a definitive way. I don’t necessarily want to conclude things, just move on to the next chapter.

• The biggest drawback to the jewelry industry is security. I take different routes to work, and take the address labels off our magazines before throwing them away. As thieves have gotten more sophisticated in techniques and equipment, you have to be ever more vigilant. We have clients who have asked us to keep their credit card info on file so they can make purchases more easily — I won’t do it.

• If a person in their first day of selling jewelry asked me for advice, I’d tell them to try to relax, be yourself, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and connect with customers. Trust the customer’s eye for what they want — they’re more likely to leave with something they really treasure. Let go of the numbers and get the customer to look at the simple aesthetic beauty of the piece.

[span class=note]This story is from the May 2007 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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