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Smooth Seller: Gayle Hellberg

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“My secret weapon for selling is being honest” says Smooth Seller from Marshalltown, IA.

[h3]Gayle Hellberg[/h3]

[h5]Hellberg’s Jewelers; Marshalltown, IA [/h5]

[componentheading]STATISTICS[/componentheading]

Store sales volume: “Just under seven figures”
Personal sales volume: “25 to 30 percent” 
Personal closing ratio: “Over 90 percent”
Store profile:
Hellberg’s Jewelers has a rich and lengthy history in Marshalltown, Iowa, where they began selling a full range of high-grade diamonds, watches and jewelry more than a century ago.

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[dropcap cap=H]ellberg’s Jewelers is a 105-year-old family business located on Main Street near the court house square in downtown Marshalltown. Customers that come to a downtown store typically have a mission when they walk through the door. They either need to purchase something or have a repair to leave. The repair is easy. If they need to make a purchase, I make it my mission they leave with gift in hand and an “I’ll be back to this jewelry store” written on their face. Personal service is what we stress in our store and is one of my strengths.  [/dropcap]

[componentheading]INTERVIEW[/componentheading]

• My most memorable sale? I married into this business and in the past my husband and father-in-law handled all the loose diamond sales. One day, they were both unavailable and I took the opportunity to sell a loose diamond and closed a $7,000 sale. It was a real turning point for me to realize I could do it. That sale gave me the confidence I have today.

• How did I get my start? I didn’t really get my start in it until our daughters were in school. As the girls got older I spent more and more hours at the store. I started by doing window displays. Today I do the restringing of beads and pearls, sales, the advertising, some office and administrative work and create handmade bows for our gift-wrapping. Our store is very well known for its signature gift-wrapping. I am the voice of Hellberg’s Jewelers on all radio and TV advertising. It’s important to have my voice on the ads as it ties people back to the store. 

• My secret weapon for selling is being honest. I guide them to the best piece of jewelry to fill their needs, irregardless of price. 

• My favorite type of customer is the customer that is not very knowledgeable about jewelry. I like being the person who educates them on the value of their purchase. For many people, jewelry is a major purchase. They want to know as much as they can about what they are considering. More importantly, an informed customer has confidence in me and feels good about their purchase. 

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• In the 1980s my husband and I went to a trade event in Minnesota where we attended a two-day sales seminar by [sales training professional] Leonard Zell. I didn’t know much about sales at the time so I was like a sponge. I left the seminar very excited about sales and wanted to learn more. Now I attend at least three to four sales training seminars a year.

• Best opening line? I’ll tell you what I don’t say and that’s “May I help you?” This opening line puts customers on the defense. I want customers to feel comfortable so I always open with something general like “good morning” or just a simple warm greeting. Eventually our conversation will reveal why they came in to our store.

[blockquote class=orange]Best closing line? “May I gift wrap that for you?” I know this line is used often, but a salesperson knows when a customer is near that point of committing themselves to a purchase. It’s a nice, subtle way to close the sale when you know they’re ready to write the check.  [/blockquote]

• Selling jewelry is based on trust. My customers trust me because because I’ve lived here for over 30 years and people have gotten to know me through my community involvement. Also, they know that I am a perfectionist. For me, nothing leaves the store unless it’s in absolutely the finest condition it can be, cleaned, boxed and beautifully gift-wrapped. Plus, the store itself has a 105-year history in this town. People know that the store was built on honesty. These are the qualities that keep people coming back to our store. 

• The ideal salesperson dresses well. If you sell fine jewelry a salesperson’s good demeanor and dress should reflect that. At our store there is no casual attire. Also, being friendly is important. Take a genuine interest in your customer. Above all be truthful. 

• In looking back on my early days in retail jewelry sales, I can’t believe I used to say “May I help you?”

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• I particularly enjoy selling Add-A-Link diamond bracelets by Kasper & Esh. It allows for a major purchase at an affordable price over a period of time as each link is added. Selling a starter bracelet insures a repeat customer. Kasper & Esh is an old, established company and their jewelry is spectacular! I also like to sell wedding rings. These are happy times for young couples that are making one of their first substantial purchases. It gives me a chance to impart my basic selling philosophy of educating young people.

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

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