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Smooth Sellers

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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Smooth Sellers

Smooth Seller: Donna Burgess, Occasions Fine Jewelry, Midland, TX

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Donna Burgess

Occasions Fine Jewelry, Midland, TX

Although you might not suspect it upon first chatting with the amiable, conversationally gifted Donna Burgess, the 57-year-old Tennessee native is a Type A personality who gets straight to the point, and the point is to sell jewelry. At an average sale of just over $900, she sells plenty of it to achieve annual personal sales approaching $3 million. If you need more evidence this grandmother of 11 is a shark, she relaxes by reading murder mysteries, especially the serial-killer kind. — EILEEN McCLELLAND

You have to listen as much to what’s not being said as to what’s being said — and then get straight to the point. If you are in the fashion jewelry area and a man has come in and you show him something that isn’t very expensive and he says, "My wife wouldn’t wear anything like that, it’s too gaudy," you know you are in the wrong area of the store and in the wrong price range. So go for something totally opposite.

We sell more to men than to women, and most men don’t care to shop. They don’t want to see everything in the store. Most of the time, if you ask them what they are thinking about, they don’t have a clue. So I’ll usually pull out a pendant and start with something basic. If he says, "Oh, no, she’s got one of those," then go to something that’s a little bit out there.

You can say, "I’ve got the perfect thing." Get it into their head that you have what they need. Be confident. Be direct. Don’t say, "Well, this might work."

Learn your product. Walk around the cases and know where you are going to take your customer ahead of time. Don’t waste their time trying to find something. That way you look more confident, you look more professional, and you’ll make many, many more sales.

I wear very classic jewelry. A pair of diamond studs, a pair of inside-out diamond hoops, an inline tennis bracelet, a solitaire pendant, a couple of Simon G rings and a gold ankle bracelet. So I sell a lot of inside-out earrings, that’s my go-to staple for an anniversary. I’ve also had people who notice my necklace. You sell what you wear. I’ve even sold a few gold ankle bracelets.

When I started I took every “no” personally. You can’t do that. Everybody’s going to hear “no”.

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Smooth Sellers

Smooth Sellers: Blake Simmons

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Smooth Sellers: Blake Simmons 

BY EILEEN MCCLELLAND

Published in the May 2013 issue

STORE NAME: Simmons Fine Jewelry
LOCATION: Meridian, ID

Blake Simmons graduated from Boise State University in 2011 with degrees in business management and marketing. Following graduation, he immediately demonstrated his sales prowess by selling more than $1 million in his first year of working full time at his family’s business. Simmons has been married for five years to his wife, Jill, and in his spare time he loves hunting, riding motorcycles, skiing and snowboarding.

My father has always said, “We don’t sell jewelry, we sell romance.” I have found this very true in my own sales especially to men buying for their wives, and it makes a big difference in the way a sale goes if I can help the customer to forget about the amount of money they are spending on “just a little rock.”

Don’t short yourself. Always show big to sell big. If that doesn’t work, scale it down, but if you have the mentality that someone can’t afford something you won’t ever sell big pieces.

I earned a bachelor’s of Entrepreneurial Management, and if I weren’t selling jewelry, I would find a way to create a business to go along with my passion for the outdoors.

I do most of the social media for our store. It’s such a great way to facilitate sales to the younger generation.

I like to wish happy birthday and anniversary via text. I have had customers come in and purchase for the occasion as a result of a text.

The book that had the biggest effect on the way I sell was Start With Why. It’s a very simple read, but if an individual can learn their “why” they will be driven to succeed continually.

We recently started to host an annual Vault Sale. We take the older merchandise in the store and offer it to our best customers at incredible discounts. The customers love to come and usually buy multiple items.

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Smooth Sellers

Smooth Sellers: Gennifer Flaxman

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Smooth Sellers: Gennifer Flaxman 

BY EILEEN MCCLELLAND

Published in the April 2013 issue

STORE NAME: Bernie Robbins Jewelers
LOCATION: Marlton, NJ

Gennifer Flaxman had what she described as her 15 minutes of fame when she won an audition for a Weight Watchers commercial, filmed in November 2012. She says her first trip to Los Angeles felt like an out-of-body experience. It all happened right around the time she reached her goal of losing 99 pounds. Transforming herself has exponentially ramped up her confidence. “I am more comfortable suggesting more fashion-forward pieces now because I feel I am regarded differently. I’m more personable and friendly, too. I always had great rapport with existing customers but I feel I am doing a better job now of garnering new clients. I wear the jewelry in the store and I find I am selling more pieces off me than I ever did before. If you look better, your jewelry looks better and people are more interested in purchasing it.” Still, there has been one annoying glitch — some of her less regular customers don’t recognize her, and wind up working with someone else!

To get psyched up for the day, I listen to music on the way to work — I usually have two favorite songs at a time (my two favorite right now are Bruno Mars, Locked Out of Heaven, and Maroon Five, One More Night — and I cycle through them, listen to them and yell the words at the top of my lungs.

 My background in social work absolutely does influence my approach to selling jewelry. I don’t realize I’m even doing it, but I tend to get to the emotional needs while I’m selling — what the gift means, what they want it to mean, trying to make it more important and more memorable.

 I do call certain customers, but calling has become a lot more obsolete. A lot of clients much prefer texting. I sold a $74,000 watch from a text conversation. The owners of Bernie Robbins are less than pleased with the use of cellphones on the floor —but they are a necessary evil.

 With cellphones, you are on call all the time. There is no such thing as time off any longer. If a customer wants to come in for a repair, chances are I’ll be there. Because how do you show up for the sale and not for the repair, even if it is your first Sunday off in six weeks?

 I happen to have a ridiculous, crazy memory. I don’t need to write things down, I retain the information. When you remember something about them that’s personal, it makes for a relationship instead of just a sale.

 I drink a lot of coffee; and a good workout is something that also gets me raring to go and psyched up.

 I always greet people with a hello or a welcome. I cringe when I hear, “How are you?” I absolutely cringe. I take the old school approach to building rapport — I comment on someone’s hair or jacket — because if you’re genuine about it, it really works.

 I ask for a sale by talking about payment options. In this store, regardless of income or wealth, we offer almost everyone the opportunity to use our credit, and we have an interest-free option. So that’s almost always how I ask for a sale. I look for buying signals, I use credit as my opening, and if they say they don’t need it, I’ll ask questions about when they plan to give it, and what else they’ve seen, what reservations they have. Then I do the hardest thing for the salesperson to do, which is shut up. Especially for me.

 I have what is called my mojo ring. I pick one piece of jewelry and wear it for a long period of time; I say it gives me my mojo, but I always wind up selling it off me. Currently, it’s a stack of Ippolita bangles that I’ve been wearing for months.

 My favorite type of customer has evolved. Now my favorite customer is a repeat customer. I take such satisfaction when someone comes in and asks for me, even if it’s just for a repair, because it shows me I’ve given them good service.

 My most memorable sale was to a gentleman purchasing a ring for his wedding anniversary. He was going to be deployed to Iraq by the time the ring was ready, and when his wife came in, we had him Skyped in. We presented her with flowers and had dog tags inscribed for their sons. It allowed them to celebrate their anniversary even though they were miles apart. It was about a $25,000 sale, but it was the kind of sale that made you feel good about what you were doing and the memory you were giving.

 My biggest sales day was $176,000. I sold a diamond watch (A Rolex Daytona over the phone), a diamond engagement ring, and a whole lot of little things.

 I am the toughest critic with a salesperson. I have walked out of so many stores if I’m not happy with the service. I’m interested to see if once they ask me my name they are interested in using it afterward. 

 In my nine years at Bernie Robbins, there was only one year when I did not achieve $1 million in sales, and that was in 2007. Each year, when I finally get there, I take a deep sigh and feel that the pressure is off, and once the pressure is off, that’s when I soar.

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