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Smooth Sellers

Smooth Seller: Patti Warner



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

[h3]Patti Warner[/h3]

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


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.



• 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.”


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. 


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]



Wilkerson Testimonials

A Packed Store Like the Day Before Christmas? Wilkerson Makes It Happen

Deb Schulman says once she and her husband, Ron, decided to retire, she could feel “the stress start to leave.” The owners of B. Alsohns Jewelers in Palm Desert, California, the Schulmans had heard about Wilkerson over the years and contacted them when the time was right. Wilkerson provided the personalized service, experience and manpower it took to organize their GOB sale. “We are so impressed with the way Wilkerson performed for us,” says Ron Schulman, “I’d send high accolades to anyone who was interested.”

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Smooth Sellers

Smooth Seller: Donna Burgess, Occasions Fine Jewelry, Midland, TX




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




Smooth Sellers: Blake Simmons 


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




Smooth Sellers: Gennifer Flaxman 


Published in the April 2013 issue

STORE NAME: Bernie Robbins Jewelers

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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