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Smooth Sellers

Smooth Seller: Tammy Mcauley



Top salespeople share their secrets

[h3]Tammy McAuley[/h3]

[h5]Scoville Jewelers; Glens Falls, NY[/h5]


Smooth Seller: Tammy McAuley

[dropcap cap=A]t an age when other teens were flipping burgers, Tammy McAuley was starting her career in the jewelry business. McAuley got her first job in a jewelry store at 14 thanks to her brother. After graduating from college with a BA in marketing, she began working for various jewelers, but really evolved as a salesperson at Scoville Jewelers, where she has spent more than half of her 16 years as a retail jewelry salesperson. In its last fiscal year, Scoville Jewelers sold $2.2 million with Tammy selling nearly $700,000 of that amount … thanks to her high closing ratio of 80%.


Housed in a historic building in downtown Glen Falls, Scoville Jewelers has served the city’s mainly middle to upper-middle class community from a Victorian-style jewelry parlor for over 50 years. The store specializes in beautifully-cut diamonds, colored gemstones and custom design work. They have four jewelers on staff with a full service repair shop.[/dropcap]


• My biggest sale ever was to a regular customer who wanted to buy a three-stone anniversary ring for his wife. He started with a budget of $10,000, but I up-sold him to a $28,000 ring. Not only was it a big sale but it was an important one in that he showed a lot of trust in my judgment. I knew his wife wanted something bigger and also knew he could afford it.

[blockquote class=orange]The last time I cried in the store was when a woman’s husband just died and she brought in her engagement and wedding ring and asked us to “do something” with it.[/blockquote]

• The hardest I’ve ever laughed was when I was waiting on this young guy and a co-worker put one of those large afro-type colored wigs on. It was near Halloween and a co-worker put the wig on and got me to look at her across the store when I was helping a customer. I broke out laughing in the middle of a diamond presentation. Luckily, the customer took it in stride.

• The last time I cried in the store was when a woman’s husband just died and she brought in her engagement and wedding ring and asked us to “do something” with it. One of Scoville’s special services is where we take the wedding and engagement rings and solder them together, then turn it into heart pendant and set the diamond wherever the customer wants it set. I suggested we do this for her and she liked the idea. It was a very emotional and very touching time for her, and for me as well in helping the customer complete this custom design piece.  


• My lucky charms are my diamond loupe and my key ring [to open display cases]. I wear my loupe like a necklace and slip my key ring on my wrist. When I have these two items on, I’m in uniform and ready to roll. I’m like a doctor in a white lab coat and a stethoscope.  

• My customer database is sacred. I have my own system which is using 4” x 6” recipe cards as customer profile cards. I update them at every possible opportunity — whether it’s adding in personal information like an important date or quick notes on a recent purchase or making sure to follow-up after a store visit. This is my tool of the trade. I alphabetize the cards in a small box, but I sometimes make a separate card for my card box that is organized by months to help catch important dates for customers.

[blockquote class=orange]Let’s be honest, that’s what jewelry is all about … love, romance, getting lucky and all that mushy stuff.[/blockquote]

• The phone is an important tool that helps me update my customer profile cards. And, when big events are scheduled, I’ll use spare time to make phone calls two to three times a day. One thing I like doing is calling a couple of ladies in to let them know we just got in some new jewelry that is right up their alley. When I’m talking to them I like to present it as a “special preview” — making them feel they’re the first ones to see these new arrivals.

• My favorite closing line
for a man is “This is going to make you a hero!” Then, I ask if I can gift wrap the item for them.

• The riskiest line I ever used was on a guy was “This is going to get you lucky!” Let’s be honest, that’s what jewelry is all about … love, romance, getting lucky and all that mushy stuff. I knew the guy could handle it and he ended up buying the diamond necklace. I haven’t used the line since. I suppose if the right kind of male customer came along who I thought could handle it I might try that line again.

• I can’t believe I never
used to try for add-on sales. If someone buys a ruby pendant, for example, a chance to sell a matching pair of earrings shouldn’t be missed. I have a high add-on average. I’ll even go for an add-on even if a customer comes in for a watch strap.  

• Is closing a sale better than sex? Closing a sale is a close second to good sex, but it’s not quite better. If it is better, that person needs to trade in their partner!  


• I’m an active listener and I’m good at remembering things. When people walk through the door I pick up right where we left off from our last exchange. I even send out greeting cards for everything from birthdays to service awards. I like to be active in what’s going on in a customer’s life.

[blockquote class=orange]Closing a sale is a close second to good sex, but it’s not quite better. If it is better, that person needs to trade in their partner![/blockquote]

• I know it’s time to turn over a sale when I can’t get the customer to talk, look or even sneeze at me. It’s at that time I get somebody else to help that customer.

[span class=note]This story is from the April 2005 edition of INSTORE[/span]



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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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