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Smooth Seller: Diane Braun

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This Wisconsin “Smooth Seller” is a two-time breast cancer survivor who won’t be told what she can and can’t do.

[h3]Diane Braun[/h3]

[h5]Chalmers Jewelers, Middleton, WI [/h5]

[componentheading]Smooth Seller Bio[/componentheading]

[dropcap cap=D]iane Braun, 60, is determined to make the most of each day, partly because she has survived two bouts with cancer and partly because she has an innate sense of adventure. In addition to being the top seller at Chalmers Jewelers, a 5,000-square-foot family-owned superstore, she has become a licensed aesthetician and a tattoo artist. And 12 years ago, at age 48, she took a detour from full-time jewelry sales to become a flight attendant — on a bet. Braun’s daughter, Nikki, a then-28-year-old flight attendant, had complained about how tough the job was and bet her mom that she wouldn’t be up to it. Braun couldn’t resist the challenge. She got the job and worked for two years as a United Airlines flight attendant. Nikki was delighted and the two often traveled together. But two years was enough for Braun. “I decided probably I should find something a little less drastic.” Since then, she’s been with Chalmers full-time. Her stint as a flight attendant served her well in jewelry sales. “I learned a lot about customer service,” Braun says, “especially how to smile when somebody is upset about something. You have to be really understanding with everyone. The customer is always right.”EILEEN MCCLELLAND [/dropcap]

[componentheading]Smooth Seller Interview[/componentheading]

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• The one piece of advice I would give to everyone: Listen to your customer very carefully. Chalmers is a freestanding store and a destination for jewelry shoppers. I honestly do not believe that someone is just looking! They all have an idea or an occasion that they are shopping for. When I service an engagement couple I ask, before I even walk them to the area, “What would your ideal engagement ring look like?” Everyone has a thought or a dream and we are here to make it happen.

• I get psyched for the day by setting a realistic goal for myself. I also need a good cup of coffee, a half hour at the gym and a personal pep talk to myself. I tell myself how lucky I am to have a great job that I enjoy — and get on with it girl!

[blockquote class=orange] Every good salesperson is a good listener, knowledgeable and honest.  [/blockquote]

• My secret weapon with jewelry is my sense of humor. It’s only jewelry! People get so passionate about the wrong things. There is nothing that cannot be fixed or replaced.

• My favorite type of customers are single men trying to buy an engagement ring who need help. They also have been somewhere else, have been pressured and need to relax and enjoy the moment.

[blockquote class=orange] When I have a bad sales slump I know that I am not asking for the sale.  [/blockquote]

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• My lucky charm is a Coach key chain. This reminds me what a luxury jewelry truly is and that if you like the finer things in life you have to work harder.

• The most memorable sale in my career was an engagement ring that I sold to a young man and he returned an hour later with a gift basket and flowers to thank me for all my help.

• The mistake I find myself making is frequently not showing high-priced merchandise and trying to stay within someone’s budget, when in fact I know they can afford much more.

• I cannot say enough about teamwork. I believe the whole concept of sales is built on the team that you work with every day. You have to learn to turn over the sale if you have not grasped what the person is shopping for or you feel the personalities are not meshing. In order to do this you must trust, have respect and know how to share.

• The best salesperson I have encountered is actually the owner of the store, Scott Chalmers. He just seems to always answer a question with a question. He is in the store almost every day and helps us all to become better salespeople.

• My favorite annual promotion is Father’s Day. We have a watch fair on the Saturday before an Antique Car Show, and last year a benefit for the Susan Komen Breast Cancer Association.

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• Last year the benefit was in my honor. I am a two-time breast cancer survivor and last year had surgery. The whole store was so wonderful and we had a big party in my honor.

[blockquote class=orange] I am going to have a great day at work when it is raining. Rain always makes me want to shop.  [/blockquote]

• I would tell someone on the first day of work to listen to the other salespeople to see who you would like to shadow.

• When I am selling, sometimes things come out of my mouth backwards! Everyone still laughs because I was talking to some people, selling a midsize Rolex watch, and instead of saying it is unisex, I said bisexual! I was so embarrassed and how do you recover?

• I have always heard that in order to make sure someone remembers your name you must repeat it at least three times. We also have cards and a wish list in the computer.

[span class=note]This story is from the October 2008 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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