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Smooth Seller: Matthew Becker

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29-year-old Smooth Seller from Keller, TX says it’s possible to provide top-notch service on Net

[h3]Matthew Becker[/h3]

[h5]Beckertime; Keller, TX [/h5]

[componentheading]PROFILE[/componentheading]

MATTHEW BECKER
Age: 29 
Years in jewelry sales:
2005 personal sales: $4.5 million

[dropcap cap=A] one-time financial planner, Matthew shared his father’s love for watches. As his dad, Gordon Becker, began to become more involved buying and selling watches on eBay in 1999, Matthew joined him on a part-time basis. “It was a way for us to work together and have fun,” explains Becker. His sales savvy also came from his father, a sales trainer in the insurance business. Today, he runs the company with his stepmother, Carolyn (Gordon Becker passed away over a year ago).

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Gordon Becker had too many watches. His wife, Carolyn, suggested he sell some through eBay — and Beckertime was born. In late 2000, his son Matthew joined him and turned the eBay buying and selling into a business, starting with vintage watches. By 2003, the Beckers’ seller reputation on eBay was through the roof, and the web site was built to handle demand. Today, the company focuses on selling pre-owned Rolex watches and certain diamond jewelry.[/dropcap]

[componentheading]Smooth Seller Interview[/componentheading]

• MY FAVORITE THING about Beckertime is that we’re open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even holidays. We’re always available by phone or email, so a customer can ask a question at 10 p.m. and receive an immediate answer. (My stepmother) Carolyn works from nine to five, and I go from about noon until 10. I check emails at home until about 1 a.m. So really, there are only about eight hours when we’re out of touch. We can conduct business from out of town and by cell phone — the only thing that makes the office necessary is shipping.

[blockquote class=orange]I wake up thinking, “I get to play with watches all day!” I don’t work for a living. [/blockquote]

• BEING A SUCCESSFUL salesperson means giving every customer respect, really listening to them, and doing whatever possible to keep them happy before, during, and after the sale. And we’re held accountable by every customer: eBay has a feedback system that allows us, and other eBay customers, to see what past customers have to say about our service. We’ve had almost 10,000 positive comments, with only 11 negative in the past seven years.

• WHEN I’M TIRED or don’t feel like being at work, I thank my lucky stars that I can work from home. If I don’t want to go into the office, I can forward calls to my cell phone. But just as importantly, Carolyn and I work very well together. If one of us is having a bad day, the other person has their back. Customers always receive 110% no matter what. Everyone has a bad day sometimes, but if I’m not in the mood to answer calls, she does it, and vice versa. It’s a perfect relationship.

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• I STAY continuously motivated because this company is my father’s legacy. It’s unique. The company began with my father and I — we were best friends. Nothing makes me happier than to continue his tradition and think, “He’d be so proud of us for keeping our customers happy and making money, and for all the right reasons.”

• MY FAVORITE KIND of customer is an excited one. Someone who’s genuine and nice to deal with. I love dealing with first-time Rolex customers. I remember when I received my first Rolex — it’s a feeling so amazing, you only have it once. One time, I sold a large, beautiful diamond to a woman, and she called to say that she was so excited when she received it that the store where she worked had to close its doors because everyone wanted to see the diamond. When you hear that kind of excitement, it means more than words can say.

• THE PEOPLE who have influenced me most are my father and Carolyn. They are the two people I look up to and respect. They have very different ways of doing business — my father was more spread out with his hands in many different things, while Carolyn has simplified the business to specialize in pre-owned Rolex and certain jewelry. But they are both motivated by doing the right thing for customers.

• MY LUCKY CHARM is something very dear to me. It’s an 18-karat gold dragon ring. It sits about two inches off your finger and has rubies, emeralds, everything you can imagine. My father was always going to extremes and buying one-of-a-kind items. This one was appraised at $25,000, and he purchased it one month before he died. We haven’t sold it. Every time I look at it, it reminds me of him. We keep it in a glass showcase on our mantel. Even a king would find it gaudy, but it represents my dad’s style.

• THE MOST MEMORABLE SALE of my career was selling a 10-carat diamond ring, EGL-certified. It’s tough to sell a diamond of that size online (it looks like a lollipop ring!). It took the customer 60 days to pay for it because she had to take out a second loan on her house. The excitement she had when she received it was just unbelievable.

[blockquote class=orange]When I close a big sale, I like to reward myself with sushi. [/blockquote]

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• IF I WASN’T in jewelry sales, I would be working! I don’t consider what I do to be work — it’s just too much fun. I was in financial planning before, and used to spend every hour before and after my day job working on the jewelry business. I recently got out of financial planning completely and dedicated 100% to Beckertime.

• REPEAT BUYERS are the lifeblood of a strong salesperson and jewelry operation. Forty percent of our business is repeat buyers, and many refer friends. Most of our customers will buy from us again. I make it too good for them not to. I don’t like to say no.

• THERE’S NO MAGIC WORD in selling, for me. I don’t have a hard sales approach. If a customer wants to shop around before purchasing, I help them. I’ll assist them in finding out about different sellers, and I’ll help them find the watch they want, even if it’s from somebody else. Recently, a gentleman wanted a two-tone Rolex Datejust. I knew the other seller he was comparing, and he’s a good guy. I couldn’t beat the price, and I told the customer that the other seller would treat him well and he couldn’t go wrong.

[blockquote class=orange]If they don’t want it, I don’t want to make them have it. It’s a big purchase. [/blockquote]

• I WRITE THE MOST IN-DEPTH descriptions of each watch we sell that I’ve ever seen on any eBay listing. I take up to 10 pictures for each individual watch, and provide serial numbers. We have the highest “Power Seller” designation that eBay offers (“titanium”), which is important when someone’s sending us thousands of dollars without ever meeting us. And of course, I provide a friendly voice on the line, ready to serve in any way I can.

• I MAKE MORE MONEY on my auctions than other sellers with more feedback. How? I will jump through hoops to make our customers happy. Some of our best feedback has been from customers who had problems with their products, but we took care of them. They write things like, “They refunded our money and everything was great.” Potential customers know that the very worst that can happen is they return their item for a full refund.

• SOMETIMES, I’ll play hooky for half a day and keep my cell phone on. Maybe I’ll leave my email alone for four hours. I’m so neurotic about keeping up with emails, I probably need therapy.

• ONE THING I LOVE TO DO when we make a nice sale is “take it out on our customers.” Meaning, I do lots of extra things for them, like offer free servicing, or a free warranty, throw in original packaging and manuals, or offer free shipping for an entire year. I want my customer thinking, “There’s not a better company to deal with than Beckertime.”

• THE FIRST PIECE OF JEWELRY I ever owned was a Swatch watch. This was back in the 1980s, and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. It got me started on watches. By age 16, I had 10 different Swatch watches, each as obnoxious as the other.

• THE THING THAT BUGS me most is when a customer scams us. Unfortunately, some buyers are cheaters. We shipped an $8,000 Rolex President that was returned back to us the day the buyer received it … with a different movement. We do everything we can to make people happy, but I hate people who take advantage of the system.

• WHEN A CUSTOMER is unhappy, I view that as an opportunity. By the end of most of these conversations, I have a new best friend. Why are they upset? Most of the time, it’s someone who’s been screwed in the past. They’ve got their guard up, thinking that everyone who sells on the Internet will treat them poorly. I listen to them vent and then resolve the situation. If they don’t like the watch, no problem! If they’ve had it two months and it’s not working right, we’ll take care of it! Many of our best customers started out this way.

• MY BIGGEST GOALS are keeping the company profitable, manageable and something we enjoy. I just want to wake up every day, enjoy what I do, and make money doing it. And, I want systems in place to be profitable so we can spend time doing the other things in life we enjoy doing.

• I LOVE GOLF, but I haven’t played in a year and a half. I’m just too busy. Usually, after a long layoff, I go out and hit around 80, followed by a 100 round. My handicap is a 14, so I’m just good enough to win at the betting.

[span class=note]This story is from the June 2006 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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Jimmy DeGroot

Be Ready for ‘What Do You Have for $100?’ and Other Holiday Questions

As Christmas approaches, the queries you’ll hear from customers are actually pretty predictable, says jewelry store training expert Jimmy DeGroot. Here's how to make sure your team is prepared for the more common ones.

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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: 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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