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Smooth Seller: Patti Warner

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This Oregon “Smooth Seller” is a master of the personal touch.

[h3]Patti Warner[/h3]

[h5]Zell Brothers Jewelers; Portland, OR[/h5]

[componentheading]STATISTICS[/componentheading]

Store sales volume: Cannot disclose  
Personal sales volume: 40% of store’s volume 
Personal closing ratio: 80% of customers visiting — includes extensive referrals and repeat customers 
Store profile: Zell Brothers is part of Bailey, Banks and Biddle, the guild division of the Zale Corporation. The store sells medium- to high-end jewelry, with an emphasis on platinumsmith custom design and services.

[componentheading]INTERVIEW[/componentheading]

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• If I met someone on their very first day in jewelry sales, I’d tell them to “always smile”. A smile is your best asset. 

I don’t use a computer. When a customer walks through the door I want them to see a smile and not me working on my laptop. Computers are so impersonal. My business is very personal and I want that quality of selling jewelry to be apparent to all my customers. My client profile books contain extensive information I have obtained over the years, even suggestions I’ve made as to the next gift to give to go along with what they already have purchased. 

The personal touch is so important. I always handwrite a sales slip. It’s a personal touch so people know exactly what they purchased. The receipt from the register simply reads “diamond ring” or perhaps a SKU number, which doesn’t mean much to anyone. Writing out the details such as the size, color and clarity of a diamond and its setting is all about romancing the product. 

My favorite opening line? A simple “Welcome to Zell Brothers” is very professional. You never want to say, “Can I help you?” because they can always say no. 

My favorite closing line? “You have selected the most gorgeous piece of jewelry. Please allow me to wrap it up for you.”

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The little extra things you do pay off in spades, such as personally cleaning and checking their jewelry and keeping their appraisals current. I receive a lot of referrals because of the extra personal things I do. In retail today most sales associates simply “clerk” a customer, not really caring about building a future with them. 

Volunteering for charities that your clients are involved in can have a significant impact on your success. It allows you to meet people outside the store that you would not have had an opportunity to before. Then you can start holding fundraisers for these charities in your store. It’s important for your city to know that you are civic-minded and in the end you and the other sales associates will go about helping others. So, it’s a win-win. 

People trust me to advise them on more then just jewelry. I have customers calling me to advise them on a good restaurant in town or to find out about things going on around town. 

I sell high-end jewelry so that’s what I usually wear. It’s important for salespeople to wear jewelry. When wearing jewelry from the store, wear it big. Customers get excited when they see expensive pieces of jewelry and will compliment you on it. I’ve sold many pieces that I was wearing when talking with customers. One time I sold a $125,000 dollar ring to a young man who had never before purchased a significant piece of jewelry. Had I not had that ring on my finger, he would not have made the purchase. 

[blockquote class=orange]Writing out the details such as the size, color and clarity of a diamond and its setting is all about romancing the product. [/blockquote]

What makes me nervous is when a customer knows more about my product than I do. The Internet supplies a plethora of information for your customer and if you are not aware of new information you will not be a credible person to buy from — especially expensive pieces of jewelry. 

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At a David Yurman show, we sold $300,000 by creating a buying frenzy. When I brought a small group of women together they started talking to each other about how good the jewelry looked on them, or that they wanted the piece the other woman had on or suggested a piece to complement the jewelry they wanted to buy. A buying frenzy is great when it’s working, but a salesperson has to learn how to control it. If you do it right the people will leave the store talking about you, the jewelry and the store. 

You know a sale is clinched when when you see that glow or smile on a customer’s face. That’s when the sale is ready for a closing line.

A new client came in to our store at Christmas and said he was from out of state and that he wanted the best .50-carat diamond earrings for his wife. I took time to explain the grading systems to him and how diamonds are cut. We fortunately carry AGS Triple 0 ideal-cut diamonds and he said that’s what he wanted. He also wanted D, VVS quality. I asked him why he wanted to buy such incredible diamonds for earrings and his response was “because I’m the one looking at them when I look at her”. I almost started to cry. This is a man who adores his wife and loves to look at her and wants her to have the best. I have to add that he said how much he appreciated all I did to find the best because every store in Portland tried to sell him what they though he should have and he said the other sales associates didn’t understand what he wanted. Always listen to your customer. The .50-carat total weight earrings were $10,000.

[span class=note]This story is from the March 2004 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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