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Smooth Seller: David King

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Prodigal son returns to the family business and racks up the sales

[h3]David King[/h3]

[h5]King Jewelers[/h5]

[componentheading]PROFILE[/componentheading]

Smooth Seller: David King

DAVID KING
Age: 28
Years in jewelry sales: 5
2004 sales: More than $6 million

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[dropcap cap=D]espite working weekends in his family’s high-end jewelry business as a child, David King felt he wanted to do something else with his life. First, he wanted to be a doctor, then an investment banker, and then, he even started a music education company with Jam Master Jay of classic rap group RUN-DMC. But his destiny called in September, 2001 – while on a trip to Florida, the terrorist attacks occurred. With flights grounded, David decided to put in a little time at the family store … and now is leading one of South Florida’s oldest jewelers into a fifth generation of Kings.[/dropcap]

KING JEWELERS
Location: Aventura, FL
Years in business: 94
URL: www.kings1912.com

King’s put a crown on its 94-year history with its recent grand opening of the Aventura salon. The store caters to an upper-middle class to upper-class clientele (and even some celebrity clients with top names in watches from Breitling to Harry Winston and jewelry from leading jewelry designers including Chopard and Judith Ripka.

[componentheading]INTERVIEW[/componentheading]

• When I got back into the family business, my background in science was useful in understanding the technical aspects of diamonds. The more I learned about the business, the more I wanted to be a part of it.  

• I’ve become good friends with a couple. The husband sits on the board of directors for a very large retail jewelry chain. They could easily buy from any of their own stores, but they prefer to buy from me at this store. That speaks volumes about the shopping experience we have at King Jewelers.  

• My watch collection
used to be very diverse, ranging from diamond Roger Dubuis to special mechanical watches such as a Dubey & Schaldenbrand Venus, but lately I’ve been collecting GMT [Greenwich Mean Time] watches. My favorite watch from my collection is a Breitling World Time that I just can’t take off these days.

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[blockquote class=orange]I’ve sold pieces of jewelry that cost more than my apartment, but didn’t really know the value of jewelry until I became a Graduate Gemologist.[/blockquote]

• To get psyched up for a day of selling I set the luxury watches up in the morning. It’s something I do every day that is my meditation for the day. Nothing gets me more psyched for selling watches than playing with a Jaeger-LeCoultre or IWC in the morning.  

• I have particular interests in business strategy and marketing, so I read the latest books on all these subjects. But for sales, I practically live in trade magazines. I always keep up with the latest fashion trends and designer and pay keen attention to Rapaport and global diamond economics.  

• My true passion is watches. Look in my office or home, and you’ll see stacks of watch books, magazines, price guides, and annuals. The more I get in to certain types of watches, the more I realize there is just so much to know. I also read the Robb Report to keep up with the luxury market, from the latest Ducati motorcycle to the newest cigarette boat. I don’t own a motorcycle or a boat, but my clients do and I have to be able to hang with them in a conversation on these and other luxury-level items.  

• The phone is an extremely important tool
for me, but I don’t really have the personality for it. I’ve developed a client base that actually calls me. When I do call on customers it’s to customers who I consider friends. Plus, I’m a very private person and respect their time.  

• I have national and international clients so it’s a mixture of phoning and emails. That means I’m on call 24 hours a day. I average 16-hour days and answer calls from clients any time of the day or night. And, it’s not uncommon to take clients out for dinner often.  

• Being young in this industry, and serving the clients that I do, I need to dress as if I’m “interviewing for my next job.” I have custom suits made, get manicures to keep my hands looking good and keep my hair trimmed neatly. All of these things add up to being comfortable around power clients. For male customers they like to think of me [the salesman] as a peer and woman trying on jewelry like to flirt and be told they’re beautiful. This is reflective of the demographic this store caters to with high-end jewelry and watches.

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[blockquote class=orange]Recently, a client called me from Las Vegas at 3:00 AM and said he was getting married and needed a ring first thing the next morning.[/blockquote]

• Day to day, I like to wear a nice pair of dress pants, a French cuff shirt and of course a fine watch to finish off the outfit. I collect and design cufflinks so I always prefer French cuff shirts. It’s hot down here in Florida so I like to keep the suit within reach should a particular customer or CEO walk in.  

• I’m not the average shopper. When I do go shopping, I judge the entire shopping experience from the very start to the finish. I sometimes laugh at what I call the “quintessential salesman”, such as some car salesmen. To be honest I don’t like shopping and I don’t like being helped. For clothes, if I need something, I’m in and out of there in 30 minutes or so. And, when the cashier is ringing up my order they usually say, “yeah, I would have picked something like this out for you.”

• I don’t really like trendy clothes. I simply know what I like. But for my customers I read a lot of women’s fashion magazines such as Elle, W and Town & Country to keep up with the latest in fashion and accessories. I read a lot about women’s fashion. When I go to parties at a friend’s house, I usually spend most of my time talking with women about fashion. I also write on fashion and accessory trends so all of this helps me stay on top of things.  

• Set opening lines
smack of the “quintessential salesman”. But I do have some risky lines that get people laughing. For guys looking at engagement rings, I like to say “Are you sure?” when they say they’re looking. Or, when someone asks “How much?” I’ll answer, “Way too expensive.”

• I’m really not that smooth of a seller, but I do believe in selling myself before selling the product.  

• The best sales advice I ever got was from an 85-year-old customer. He came in and told me that years ago my grandfather gave him a watch as a tip when the old gentleman was working as a cabana boy at a local hotel. And now he wanted to replace the watch with one from our store. Fair enough, so I began showing him watches and sharing the benefits of certain models over others. In the middle of the presentation he stopped me, and said: “Most beautiful things sell themselves.” Being my second week on the job, it left quite an impression. It gave me a new perspective on selling and how to buy for the store.  

• The mistake I keep making is spreading myself too thin. Yes, I sold whatever million in sales last year, but it’s not because I wanted to. I’ve built up a large clientele and people want to buy from me. I enjoy being out on the floor, but I also enjoy the work in the back office. To be honest, I enjoy all aspects of the family business.  

[blockquote class=orange]This business gets in your blood and it’s hard to shake it. I like the satisfaction of working in the family business.[/blockquote]

• Closing a sale can be better than sex, but it depends on the sale. There’s no better high than an amazing sale — or a sale that was somehow salvaged or pulled from thin air. It can put me on a high for days.

• At this level of the retail business
things get to me, like those who price comparison. I’ll hear something like “Oh, I can get it cheaper on West 47th Street” or “This diamond is cheaper on the Net”. We’re a volume store so our mark-ups are kept at a low level to move merchandise.

• If I weren’t seslling jewelry, I’d become a business strategy consultant. In fact, I’ve had many job offers — ranging from jobs marketing high-end real estate projects to running Pepsi in Europe. But I turn all of the offers down.

• Each day
when I come to work I get to see my family. And, when I make a sale I’m putting food on my father’s table. I owe my parents that.  

• My biggest short-term goal is to become one of the country’s top 10 jewelers over the next three years. My biggest long-term goal is to develop a distribution company for my own lines such as Fancy Bones, Swiss Time Cufflinks, and Safe Trays while eventually bringing on boutique Swiss watch brands, as well as emerging designers.

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

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