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Tip Sheet

Tip Sheet: April 2013




SALESSmall Things

The late great Woody Justice once told us how he struck up what was to become an important relationship with an Indian diamond supplier at a trade show after noticing how adept the young sales rep was with a pair of tweezers. If you’re headed to the SMART Show or Vegas and have yet to master the small instruments, put some time in practicing. It’s a small thing, but old hands can’t help noticing. (And of course, don’t use your bare hands. Diamond dealers don’t like fingers because skin oil is hard to clean.)

Speak Like Them

Careful mimicry has long been among the tools used by the best sales pros. Here’s more advice on how to do it: Whether the customer speaks with a slow Southern drawl or a fast East Coast patter, match the pace and rhythm that a customer uses. That’s because people who talk at the same rate find each other more attractive than if one person speaks more slowly than the other, according to a study at the University of Maryland. But just because you’re following their conversation speed doesn’t mean you should try to mimic their accent. That’s likely to annoy them.


When Cathy Grad, owner of Caffray Jewellers in Hinsdale, IL, moved to computerize her operation last year, her small store’s limited sales floor meant there was no space for computer stations. The solution? A tablet-based system tailored by her system provider, Guild Jewelers. “We take our tablets to the customers, write up the job, take a picture, print it out and the customers love it,” she explained.

GENERALPut Away Your Phone

As you roam the store, beware of the urge to fire off an instant reply to every email that drops into your smartphone’s inbox. There are two reasons for this: 1) It’s more efficient to use your desktop than your mobile’s tiny keyboard to answer email; and 2) you want to be fully engaged when you are on the sales floor and interacting with staff and clients, says the HBR Guide to Getting the Right Work Done.

Remove Dirty Bills

Nobody really likes dirty old bills. When researchers at the University of Winnipeg gave students $20 and told them they could buy as much as they wanted from a mock store and save the rest, students given crisp $20 bills spent an average of $3.86, while the “dirty money” students spent $8.35. Researchers believe worn bills generate feelings of contamination in the holder, thereby devaluing them. What to do? Each time a customer uses a tired $5 or $10 note to pay for a repair or a piece of jewelry, stick it in a jar to pay for emergency expenses, like the repair bill for a computer that crashes. Don’t return such notes as change or use them to pay staff.

On Emerald’s Coat-Tails

Emerald is in the spotlight this year thanks to Pantone’s color list. Colored gemstone expert Jim Fiebig suggests you take advantage of this by positioning tsavorite jewelry near your emeralds and wait for customers to say something like: “I’ve never seen an emerald like that before.” “Then you can sell them a beautiful green gemstone that is more natural, brilliant, durable and less expensive than emerald, without the long reputation,” he says. Remind them that Out of Africa with Robert Redford and Meryl Streep took place in Tsavo National Park, for which this garnet was named.



A recent article in the London Business School’s Business Strategy Review recounts an experiment carried out with a sales team at an insurance company. The manager was asked to free up two additional hours a day to just manage. She handed off some admin work, skipped less important meetings and spent the extra time giving more guidance to her team. After three weeks, sales were up 5 percent, low performers had greatly improved, and no one wanted to go back to the old ways of working. If your typical response to handling a problem is, “Let me take care of this,” reconsider it.

Shift Your Thinking

Few things in business turn out as planned. To deal with this uncertainty and the seeming poor link between cause and effect, University of Maryland Professor Saras Sarasvathy suggests that instead of focusing on the possibility of spectacular rewards from a venture, ask yourself how great the loss would be if it failed. If the potential loss seems tolerable, take the next step. It’s a subtle shift, but Sarasvathy argues it can keep you from being paralyzed by fear or disappointment.

Future Shock

To convince you to sock away enough gold for your golden years, Merrill Edge has launched an online magic mirror. The Web app snaps a photo of you with your computer’s camera and then using an aging algorithm shows you what you’ll look like at 47, 57, 67 … all the way to 107. The wrinkly, saggy results aren’t pretty. Forced to look at yourself in 40 years, you may better appreciate the need to get a plan in place. Find the feature at faceretirement.

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When There’s No Succession Plan, Call Wilkerson

Bob Wesley, owner of Robert C. Wesley Jewelers in Scottsdale, Ariz., was a third-generation jeweler. When it was time to enjoy life on the other side of the counter, he weighed his options. His lease was nearing renewal time and with no succession plan, he decided it was time to call Wilkerson. There was plenty of inventory to sell and at first, says Wesley, he thought he might try to manage a sale himself. But he’s glad he didn’t. “There’s no way I could have done this as well as Wilkerson,” he says. Wilkerson took responsibility for the entire event, with every detail — from advertising to accounting — done, dusted and managed by the Wilkerson team. “It’s the complete package,” he says of the Wilkerson method of helping jewelers to easily go on to the next phase of their lives. “There’s no way any retailer can duplicate what they’ve done.”

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