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Smooth Seller: Justin C. Holder

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This Tennessee “Smooth Seller” gets his inspiration from an old Michael J. Fox movie.

[h3]Justin C. Holder[/h3]

[h5]Bell Jewelers; Murfreesboro, TN[/h5]

[componentheading]PROFILE[/componentheading]

[dropcap cap=T]hough just 25 years old, Holder is a top salesperson at Bell’s Jewelers, a landmark store in Murfreesboro, TN. Bell’s, a seven-figure store, has been operating in Murfreesboro since 1879 and has been voted the area’s top jeweler for many years. The company carries brand names such as Rolex and TAG Heuer, as well as Waterford Crystal. They also specialize in bridal jewelry and custom designs.[/dropcap]

[componentheading]Smooth Seller Interview[/componentheading]

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• To get psyched up for a day at work, I always get up in the morning and play with my miniature Doberman named Onyx. His drive is never low and he’s never in a slump. If Onyx is never discouraged … so why should I be?

If I’m not selling jewelry, I’m probably shopping the competition. My wife says I am obsessed with shopping other stores. You bet I am. In every city we travel, I shop at least one store — every trip. The absolute best example for fine-tuning your trade, to me, is learning what not to say and do. In many cases, I come away with new ideas, new presentations or new items to have in our store. I also come away with tips on things to make sure I am never guilty of doing. 

I love motivational products. I love everything from the Zig Ziglars to the Dave Richardsons of the business. Donald Trump’s new book How to Get Rich is an excellent source to improve both self-motivation and self-discipline. My other studies include frequenting places that give outstanding customer service. My wife and I both drive a Mercedes Benz, not only because of the quality and luxury but it is a treat to visit the dealer. They make you feel you own something one-of-a-kind. Talk about romancing a product. They can make you just salivate talking about the most minor detail. I take ideas from those experiences and manipulate them to fit my customers. I want any sale with Justin Holder to be simply a treat. Period. 

I once sold a $30,000 watch to a woman who didn’t get excited about it until I did. I took her over in the mirror and just said “Look at that!” She finally cracked a smile and wore it home.

My favorite opening line is simply a variation of “What’s going on today?” I know, it’s nothing fancy, but it works for me. Many customers expect a fine jewelry store to be stuffy and snooty. I like to kick that out right away. 

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I love the movie For the Love of Money, with Michael J. Fox. Fox plays a concierge of a fine New York hotel. He delivers incredible service to his customers, usually with a payoff of high tips or opportunities. However, a customer comes along that is not savvy to the concierge world that offers mediocre tips, but requires the most help. Fox helps regardless with full steam and at the end of the movie this tiny tipper turns out offering him the opportunity of a lifetime. It’s a great movie for a good jumpstart. 

The first real watch I ever owned was my father’s high school graduation watch. I was so proud of it. It was an old Benrus, but to me it was a Patek. I though it was the greatest thing because it had my Dad’s initials on the back. When I was 16, we were at a dinner and I had the floor at the table that I was sitting while telling the story of the watch. I told them about the engraving, “WR” for William Robert (my Dad’s name). That’s when someone pointed out to me the “WR” meant “water resistant”. I was so embarrassed.

[blockquote class=orange]If I can’t get people turned-on by what they are looking at, I am not doing a good job.[/blockquote]

Customers who don’t show emotion in what they are purchasing bug me. I come from a loud, wild, family that gets excited about anything! If I can’t get people turned-on by what they are looking at, I am not doing a good job. 

Nothing feels better that for it to be a slow day, and have four or five people waiting to see you personally. My key is making sure that I know a lot of different things about my clients. I always ask them about their son, their trip, or their new vehicle before ever asking them why they’re in the store. When you have a genuine interest in the people who give you business, they know it. When that relationship is established … they feel guilty going anywhere else. 

I had a customer a few months ago who came into the store and ordered a designer bracelet for his wife’s birthday. She loved it, but it was slightly tight on her. They had planned on leaving town a week from that day, and she mentioned she should love to wear the bracelet on the trip. I love a challenge! The company quoted me two weeks, but was graciously talked into one. During a casual conversation with my customer, she mentioned she would be staying at this special bed and breakfast in Savannah. I immediately called and located the exact B&B and told them my plans. I was able to have the bracelet shipped directly from the company to the B&B to be waiting in her room. Further, she had a big flower arrangement in the room that simply read “Enjoy your weekend together … Justin.” Give them service they would never expect.

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[span class=note]This story is from the June 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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