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Smooth Seller: Gary Gordon

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Oklahoma “Smooth Seller” says his secret is that he looks customers in their eyes and will never, ever “pitch”.

[h3]Gary Gordon[/h3]

[h5]Samuel Gordon Jewelers, Oklahoma City, OK[/h5]

[componentheading]Smooth Seller Profile[/componentheading]

DETAILS: 60, CEO, $3.5 million in 2006 personal sales

[dropcap cap=A]westruck, Gary Gordon gazed down at the small parcel that his grandfather had just placed in his hand. It contained 200 carats of melle — a thousand beautiful points of light. At that moment, he knew he wanted to be in the jewelry business forever. He was 7 years old. But he was exceedingly shy and thought he’d never make a salesperson. Rather than force him onto the sales floor, his father taught him to sort melle and help process loose diamonds — the greatest gift he’d ever receive, according to Gordon. To this day, he continues to process loose stones and melle with his son, Daniel (now president of the company). Gordon’s self-confidence gradually rose, until one day he decided to get out on the floor and start selling. Part of his maturation included earning an accounting degree from the University of Oklahoma, and later his CPA certification. And he played the drums professionally from 1962 through 1972, becoming friends with music legends like Conway Twitty, Ike and Tina Turner, Bobby Vee, and Bo Diddley along the way. Gordon is also a lifelong bodybuilder and trained with Arnold Schwarzenegger at the original Gold’s Gym in Los Angeles.   [/dropcap]

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[componentheading]Smooth Seller Interview[/componentheading]

• To get psyched up for a day at work, I think first about the trials and tribulations I’ve overcome and how thankful I am that they are long past behind me. Then I think about each and every issue that is going on now that is positive, and I reflect on how exciting these projects are. Lastly, I celebrate the past sales I’ve made, both large and small, but particularly the ones that I feel required the most talent in closing. By the time all these thoughts have raced through my mind, I am totally jazzed. This technique has never failed me.

•  To improve your selling skills, find somebody you admire, learn their style, and then adapt it to fit your own personality. This will put you years ahead of the game. Besides my dad, the guy I patterned my selling technique after was George Chewning, one of the first salespeople Morris Zale hired at Zales. He could charm the birds out of the trees.

• My biggest sales day ever was $1.7 million — an amazing diamond wedding ring. The buyer was from out of town, referred by one of our local customers. That alone was an ultimate compliment. And of course, handling an item this large was thrilling. The events of my entire career flew through my mind at the end of the day, and my son, Daniel, and I were so happy and grateful.

• To remember names, I use a psychological trick often taught by lecturers — I repeat the person’s name in my head. Then, you “hook” the name. Like you take their first name — “Fred” — and think “Fred Flintstone.” Then you take the last name — “Dreyer” — and think “clothes dryer.” You associate the name with another word or image. It helps the name sink into your mind more deeply.

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[blockquote class=orange] There are two kinds of people in this world: The first enters a room and says, “Well, here I am,” and the other kind enters a room and says, “Ah, there you are!” I always try to be the latter, it makes the customers feel special, and they deserve to feel special.[/blockquote]

• I’m a lot of things and I ain’t perfect, but I am a man of my word.

• I soaked up my late father’s style like a sponge. He was way ahead of his time, and his techniques and principles still work to this very day. He used the “romance” system of selling, with a strong interjection of product knowledge given to the customer, and in selling diamonds, he sold primarily based on the “light performance” of the diamond, decades before that expression became popular.

• Of course there have been days that I couldn’t seem to connect with a customer, much less close ? very depressing. All of us at the counter have to make ourselves understand that the business we are in is like the wind: It blows one way, then another. When I go through these periods, I concentrate on straightening inventory, cleaning it, seeing to it that we have popular, repeat sellers on hand that might have depleted, anything to keep my mind from allowing me to get down in the dumps. I look around me, see all the gorgeous items, then I remember my last great sale, and that’s a form of counting my blessings.

• The mistake I catch myself making most frequently is still, at this age, talking too much. I love to visit with people, so, when I’m at the counter, I concentrate on being a good listener when I know I need to be, which is a surprising amount of the time!

• If I weren’t selling jewelry, I’d probably be either a practicing CPA or a rock ‘n’ roll drummer.

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• I read the trades voraciously and GIA materials. Also, I go to all the websites of the lines we carry and read everything I can about the designers and their products. Our industry has superb trade organizations, and their websites are mini tutorials.

[blockquote class=orange] My favorite closing line: “There’s nothing more fun to own than (the ring you have picked). It’ll be like wearing a miniature work of art 24/7.”[/blockquote]

• My customers trust me because I look them in the eye when I speak with them, I present myself with humility, I give customers options and discuss the merits of all of them, and I never, ever “pitch.”

• I’m 6-foot-3, 220 pounds. I’m a big guy. But I don’t let my size be a negative — I use my personality to defuse any problem my size may cause. I’m affable and easygoing. People are usually more affected by a person’s personality than their physical appearance.

• All salespeople need to know themselves: What their mind and body will respond to positively, and what they’ll respond to negatively. I keep a diary, so when something happens, I go back through and notice. It’s like inserting a CD into your mental player.

• We use a turnover system that includes the first salesperson staying in with the second salesperson. We sell together, but without making a customer feel like we are ganging up on him/her. If this is done skillfully, the customer feels like they are getting more attention that is constructive.

• I used to worry on my days off, but here’s how I learned to quit: I write everything down and then assign various people to follow through on my projects (we have administrative people that do this for all the salespeople). Writing the various projects and issues down seems to help me prioritize things, and this is a way I can dump those issues onto paper, relieving my mind of having to hold things. I call the store once on my day off, and every other day when I take a rare vacation, just to check on things. This plan works, and the follow-through is almost always there.

• In a given 40-hour week, I’m on the floor about five hours working my own sales, and another 25 hours assisting with closes or otherwise helping with customers while they make their purchase. Seeing the store owner is so special to people. It’s the kind of thing that an independent jeweler can do that a chain can’t, and it means more.

• Why do I have a MySpace account? Because it’s fun! You can see everything I’m about — my hobbies and friends. All the friends listed are people in the music industry I’ve worked with. Then, I have videos of old rock ‘n’ roll acts I loved as a kid. The funny thing is, it’s wound up driving traffic to our company website. People see me as still vibrant, still hip, not an old fart in a jewelry store that no one can relate to.

[blockquote class=orange] When the store is packed with customers, I try to acknowledge the people who are waiting, without making the present customer feeling neglected. Sometimes I will say, “You know, sometimes we are here twiddling our thumbs, then, the next moment, I need to be three of me! Please forgive me.” Usually this is all it takes: a simple apology and quick explanation. [/blockquote]

• I played the drums in rock ‘n’ roll bands in high school and college and toured all over the state of Oklahoma. To this day, I can create a conversation about the city or town that just about any customer is from, because I played there. It creates a bond. Customers from rural areas may come in thinking we’ll be snobby, but when I start talking to them about a little diner in their town, they can’t believe it.

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

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