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Smooth Seller: Dean Learned

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Trained as an electrician, this “Smooth Seller” found he was actually more wired for jewelry sales.

 

[h3]Dean Learned[/h3]

[h5]Romm & Co; Brockton, MA[/h5]

[componentheading]PROFILE[/componentheading]

[dropcap cap=A] 104-year-old family business, Romm’s is located in a strip mall 45 minutes south of Boston. The store specializes in diamonds and Rolex watches, plus other top jewelry brands.

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Trained as an electrician, Dean Learned took what was to be a short detour when he joined Romm & Co. That detour has now lasted more than 30 years.[/dropcap]

[componentheading]INTERVIEW[/componentheading]

I’ll never forget my first day on the job when some guy came up to me, asked me if I was the new guy, and gave me a vacuum. He said, “You’re the new guy and new guys do the vacuuming”, I’ll never forget that. Back then I didn’t know a ruby from a sapphire. That was 30 years ago. 

My opening lines are tailored to the individual. I usually sit at the front of store where we have large, open windows. From that position I can see customers as they drive up towards the door. It usually takes a few minutes for people to make it to the door so I have time to think of how to approach each customer. If a guy drives up in a nice BMW then I compliment him on his car. Then we’ll talk a bit about the car once he’s in the store. Next thing you know there comes that pause and he asks for what he wants. I try to incorporate something about each person in to an opening line as they approach and then enter the store. If they have a baseball cap on that has “Hawaii” written on it, I’ll ask if they’ve ever been on vacation there. Or, if a woman is wearing a nice piece of jewelry I’ll pay her a compliment. When I tailor an opening line to a customer it’s more real.

I know a sale is going south when a customer has been looking at a piece of jewelry for a while and asks “What are your hours?” I know they are ready to leave. 

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My favorite thing about my job is the face of somebody when they receive a gift [of jewelry] they thought they’d never have. It’s amazing. You realize that that the piece of jewelry suddenly becomes the most important thing in the world to them. 

You shouldn’t use a customer’s name so much that saying their name comes off as disingenuous. The danger of not saying a customer’s name enough is forgetting the person’s name. During a 30-minute sales presentation I’ll use a customer’s name maybe two to three times. When working with a diamond engagement customer I always ask the guy for his fiancé’s name. When he leaves without making a purchase I like to close with, “Don’t worry, Kevin, we’ll get that special diamond ring for Nancy.” That makes it more personal.

[blockquote class=orange]The first customer I had was a woman asking for a mezuzah. I had no idea what this was. At that time we had a giftware section so I had to learn more about what we carried. [/blockquote]

As a store we did not call many customers. Now that’s changed somewhat. If we give a diamond presentation we typically ask for a phone number. If I can get an anniversary date, I’ll make it a point to send them a card. Usually after a diamond sale I’ll call the customer to make sure everything is alright and if there’s anything I can do to help them further. There are some customers I regularly call on anniversary dates.

One thing I always do for my customers, even if it’s busy, is take time to clean and check their jewelry. It makes people feel good and it’s a way of acknowledging a customer in a way that shows a genuine interest in them. And, if their jewelry looks good they’ll get compliments and that means referral business.

If I weren’t selling jewelry, I’d probably be selling boats. I’ve been into boating for about 35 years. It’s a real love of mine. At one time I actually looked into selling boats for a living. I interviewed with a large boat company and they gave me the job. By the time I arrived home after a four- to five-hour drive from the interview, I changed my mind and decided to continue selling jewelry.

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On my first day on the job, my boss told me to “Get out on the floor and sell something.” The first customer I had was a woman asking for a mezuzah. I had no idea what this was. At that time we had a giftware section so I had to learn more about what we carried. 

I have a special piece of jewelry that I wear — a men’s diamond ring. About 28 years ago I sold my mother a one-carat diamond ring. When she died a few years ago I had the diamond reset in a Jabel men’s ring. I get a lot of compliments on it and the ring has a very special meaning for me. I wear it every day. 

One of my most memorable sales was with a woman from Florida I met 10 years ago. Her daughter is a customer of mine and she introduced me to her mother. The mother is a very direct person, very straight to the point. One day when the mother was in the store I was putting some things together for her, the most expensive of which was a pair of earrings worth $10,000. She looked at them and said “I’ll take them.” The earrings were a bit expensive so I said, “But you didn’t ask how much they were!” She then said, “No, I didn’t ask.” She’s become a regular customer and I make sure I never mention prices. I did have a funny moment with her. During a big Christmas sale she came into the store and was looking at a very expensive ring. When I saw her looking at it I said, “Don’t ask me to let you try it on because this is one time you will want to know the price of the item.” The ring was priced at $150,000.

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

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