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Smooth Seller: Veronica Babich

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This Florida “Smooth Seller” loves selling jewelry because it’s a “happy business”.

[h3]Veronica  Babich[/h3]

[h5]The Gem Collection, Tallahasee, FL [/h5]

[componentheading]PROFILE[/componentheading]

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43, sales manager, $925,000 in 2005 personal sales; The Gem Collection, Tallahasee, FL

[dropcap cap=S]ometimes selling jewelry is just in your blood — and maybe even in your gas tank. After majoring in marketing and art in college, Veronica Babich thought her career path was taking her far away from her mother’s retail jewelry store. But something kept tugging at her, until one day, she hopped in her car to drive to Chicago to work for a jewelry manufacturer. She was halfway to the Windy City before she called her mother to tell her where she’d gone. Babich later got into retail sales working for a downtown jeweler in Chicago, then moved to California and spent another two years working jewelry shows for a wholesaler. After taking time off to start a family, she moved back home to Florida in 1992 and began working at The Gem Collection — the same store where her father had purchased a treasured sapphire ring nearly a decade before. Today, she’s not only a mother to a teenage son — she’s also the “mom” in the showroom, as the only woman on the sales team. [/dropcap]

[componentheading]Smooth Seller Interview[/componentheading]

• I’m very personable — I ask how the customer’s family is, how is the gift that they purchased last time, and I remember what they’ve bought and what goes with it. Once I develop a relationship, I don’t forget.

• I’m not as direct as some people when I sell. Since the rest of our sales staff is all men, my approach seems very different.

[blockquote class=orange]Having fun with customers is crucial. If someone makes you laugh, you enjoy the experience more. And it makes you happier when you give the gift you’ve purchased. Yes, you share that experience with the person you give it to.”    [/blockquote]

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• Having a son drives me. I give thanks each morning and pray for him. He’s a self-motivator — he’s in the honor society, Spanish club, he plays lacrosse. I let him know that I try every day to do my best, and he’s done the same thing.

• One of my customers taught me a great lesson in patience and goal-setting. She had a baby, and realized that she’d never get any jewelry because it cost too much. But now, she asks her family for gift certificates as gifts, and she saves up a little at a time. Eventually, she has several thousand dollars to put toward a piece of jewelry.

• Quality is a word that means a ton to me. I want to have quality in my life, and that translates into the service I give and the products I sell.

• People want to feel safe with their precious belongings. That’s why at our store, we verify everything. We check repaired merchandise three times before we give it back. It gives me 100 percent confidence to say, “Yes, this is your diamond.”

• What really impresses me is that Don and Dorothy [Vodicka, owners of The Gem Collection] are so charitable. They donate a lot to the community, and it’s been a very strong point in the business.

• A negative answer isn’t bad — it’s just an opportunity to go in a different direction.

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• People are people no matter where you live. Their attitudes may be different in Tallahassee than in Chicago or Los Angeles, but they’re not stupid. They’re not slow, they’re Southern.

•  You can’t run from problems, because they always start with you.

• My biggest sale ever was a $45,000 custom ring, with a princess-cut diamond in the middle and trillions on the side. I researched it a lot, and had the opportunity to shop for their diamond in Antwerp through an IJO trip. While I didn’t buy the diamond there, they knew I was going to produce for them. The ring appraised at over $60,000 shortly after I sold it — it felt great to know I’d really delivered great service.

• Sometimes I let customers have some space, but not too much, because then it’s hard to come back in. I’ll reapproach by showing them my favorite piece of jewelry. They tell me if they like it or not, and we’re off and running.

• Most people who complain want to buy something. They just want a better experience.

• When someone complains, it’s important to say, “I understand.” Or, “I’ve had this happen to me before … I’ve been there.” Now they think they’ve got someone who will listen to their problem. Once they relax, then you can start another conversation about the solution.

• The day I got David Geller’s repair pricing book, I felt like my whole life was going to be better. I didn’t have to pull a price out of my head any more.

• I love the jewelry business because it’s a happy business. Sure, it has its moments, but overall, we make people happy.

• I’m the store mom. It’s a big joke around here — the guys say I’m always looking to “straighten them out.” I try to be gentle in my criticism. But I’m only going to tell you a few times.

[blockquote class=orange]  If you ask for help, it doesn’t mean you’re weak. It means you want to win. [/blockquote]

• Make yourself smile on the phone. Customers can always tell.

[span class=note]This story is from the January 2007 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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