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Any tips for closing sales?

Jeanne,

Selling (especially your own work) is a hard thing to do. Admittedly
there are people born with the ability to sell a dead horse to a
farmer who needs a tractor, but most of us aren’t. Many of the
responses you have gotten have some good recommendations, especially
those that recommend various books, as it IS often a learned talent.
I never used them myself and I am most certainly not a natural born
salesman. However, I do have the ability to connect personally with
people and I use that to help my sales. It sounds like, from what
little you have revealed, that you’re being far too technical in
your sales pitch. I actually think that it helps to leave a small
amount of mystery to how things are done. Sure, some techie geeks,
love to get involved in the processes used (trust me, I get enough
MIT guys in here to know what they like to hear) and I’m happy to
explain things to them in excruciating detail, but most people aren’t
buying jewelry because of the process. They’re buying it because it
means something to them, or represents something to them. While
jewelry can just be sold as something pretty to wear, when it
represents something (birthday, big raise at work, anniversary, etc.)
it carries far more weight and is much easier to justify as a
purchase.

Back to connecting personally. I know one poster said don’t make the
people your friend (or words to that effect) until you’ve sold them
something, but that is absolutely not the way I would approach it. I
want people to feel that they’re buying something that comes from a
fellow human being. Sometimes that means revealing things about
myself that are quite personal in order to make them feel like I am
human too. It also makes them feel like you’re not just a mercenary
after their money. I often feel like a therapist in my store,
because I do try to communicate with my customers openly. It helps
them to focus on why they’re buying, what they need to buy if it’s a
present, or sometimes just to get them comfortable with the meaning
of what they’re buying (believe me I hold plenty of hands of people
scared to death about proposing to a partner). Lately I’ve spent more
time talking about the economy with my customers than what they’re
buying. Funny thing though, my sales are up significantly right now,
despite the writhings of the marketplace (and my constant discussion
of it with the customers).

The poster I referenced above also said not to talk about
restaurants, etc. until after you’ve sold a piece. I get people in
here routinely, who are not going to buy on their first trip in. I
not only will recommend restaurants (or other places to shop) but
I’ll call and get reservations for them while they’re in my store
(fortunately I have a lot of restaurants that know me well—in part
because I frequent them so often— and I can routinely get
reservations when none could be had normally). Sometimes I’ll even
set it up so that their first drinks are on me (the restaurants just
know to bill me). The next time they come into my store, I know that
they’ll buy something. Sometimes it’s much simpler than that though.
Sometimes it’s just treating people nicely. I routinely sell things
to people who have been in other stores and been ignored, or told
that they HAVE to do something one way only, or that what they want
is stupid. Listen to the customer first, then talk TO them, not AT
them.

Jewelry also has to have a perceived value to the customer.
Perceived value can be created in a myriad of ways–whether it’s the
display the goods are shown in, the intrinsic metal or gem value, the
design (it’s different so I like it), their confidence in or
perception of the jeweler, etc. It doesn’t really matter how it’s
priced, if the perceived value isn’t there you’ll never sell it. It
sounds like you work mostly in silver. Perhaps you should add a
little gold to it (even just making the earwires from gold), and
raise your prices accordingly. Customers believe that gold has more
value, hence the perceived value of your pieces is higher. Even if
you don’t add gold, it probably wouldn’t hurt to raise your prices.
It sounds like you spend a lot of time on the work, so it should be
priced accordingly. If you’re going to spend a lot of time telling
the customers what went into it, and it sounds like a lot of work,
the prices should reflect that.

Absolutely hand out your cards. Maybe even write a personal note on
the back while they’re there. Show them that you’re real. Sell
yourself, not your product. Encourage people to look around (nothing
makes people feel more confident about buying from you then telling
them to go look at other jewelers). Look to the future. It’s not how
much am I going to make today, it’s how much am I going to make next
year, or in 5 years if I make these people my friends and customers.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
www.spirerjewelers.com

Closing a sale is the hard part of what we must learn to do and,
alas, wedon’t learn that in soldering class. After you have educated
them as to why the jewelry is worthy of their ownership
(craftsmanship, materials, process and procedure) you must show them
that it will benefit them by making them looking better with it in
place on them. Put the jewelry in their hands or on their neck and
have a mirror handy. Then hush up for a breath or two. Mentally
switch sales gears from you to them. Make a comment on how they
enhance the piece and how the piece looks even more beautiful when
they have it on. That shouldn’t be too hard to say honestly as I’m
sure it’s true. If they start to take it off, take it off for them
and put it in their hand again. Hush up again. Watch their face, and
the companion’s face, if they are not shopping alone. This is the
point when you will sense if the sale is possible or if they were
really just a Looky Lou interested the the pretty stuff. There are a
lot of interesting psychological principles at work in this
technique. It’s a smooth first choice in a long line of sales
procedures. But, remember, you can’t sell to someone who just isn’t
buying…today.

Susan Maxon
Honors Gran Jewelry
Palm Harbor, Florida

I'm wondering if I am too quick to emphasize that I am local and
have a website...perhaps they figure they'll be able to come back
later, and use their money for something else now?

I would only mention physical location and website if the customer
asks. If the subject comes up, you definitely do not want to seem in
any way evasive or defensive, but you don’t need to volunteer that
until after the sale is made or lost. During the pitch,
keep it all about the customer and the piece. Presenting a card with
location and website is a parting pleasantry, where you
assure the customer that you will be available to satisfy any future
needs.

Steve
Gems Evermore
http://www.gemsevermore.com

Just a couple of quick ideas for closing a sale:

  1. Sell features and benefits.

  2. ASK for the sale. A lot of people talk the customer to death but
    never ask them to buy.

  3. Create a sense of urgency. “Limited quantities. One of a kind.
    Uniqueness, etc.”

  4. ASK for the sale. Will that be cash or charge? Customers usually
    need to be nudged over the edge.

  5. Sell the beauty. Not the beauty of the piece as much as how the
    piece makes the customer (or the recipient) look beautiful.

  6. ASK for the sale. Assume they want the piece and then start
    selling accessory pieces. You may not sell the accessory pieces but
    you’ll close the primary piece.

  7. Did I mention to ASK for the sale? What’s the worst the customer
    can say? “No!” You’re going to hear “No” more often than you hear
    "Yes". Put your ego aside. When they say “No”, it has little to do
    with you or your creation. When you do hear a “No”, its time to learn
    what the objections are and overcome them.

  8. When your space is busy, don’t waste your time with “tire
    kickers” or those who want to learn how to make what you did.
    Concentrate on those who are more apt to buy your product. You’re not
    going to offend anyone (well, maybe) but now is the time to earn a
    living. Do you want to be a successful business person or a starving
    artist?

  9. Practice, practice, practice.

Gene Rozewski
R-Findings

Kelley-- Makers of hand crafted jewelry are probably the worst
possible salespersons of that jewelry for many reasons, mainly
because it’s like you’re trying to sell your “babies”. We are so
invested in our end of the process that we fail to see the other
person’s point of view. It’s too easy when you’ve invested so much
of your personal time and energy, not to mention bucks, to fall into
the trap of selling for your own personal reasons (need to sell it so
we can pay a bill, make another, etc.) instead of responding to the
customer’s needs. And, speaking from personal experience, lots of
craftspeople look down on or don’t like the selling process-- it’s a
people skill, not a making skill.

If you want to sell effectively, you must learn selling skills, most
of which involve listening to the customer and trying to solve their
problem, which is to buy the right piece for their needs. Lots of the
posts have mentioned some very good books and approaches to selling–
try them!

Jim Sweaney
mardonjewelers.com

In my opinion, Daniel Spirer has hit the nail on the head in many
ways with his suggestions. These are a lot of the same things that I
find helpful in closing sales. Too much techno info is too much for a
lot of people, and sometimes just stops a sale cold. But being human
and passionate about whether its’ your work, or their "connection"
with a piece of jewelry they are contemplating… reminds me of Bruce
Bakers advice: People are buying a piece of you- if they can connect
with a piece of the romance of the craftperson who created this with
their hands, who in their minds, probably leads a “charmed” life
because they are an “artist”, who lives on a farm, has a great
garden, whatever… this is something they want a “piece of”. They
can bring this home to their busy lives and remember a special
vacation, or marking a significant event in their lives, they will
take it home with them. People are battling with the “angel” on one
shoulder saying you deserve this, and the “devil” on the other
shoulder saying, no you don’t NEED it, but… " they are looking for
justification for the purchase.

I highly recommend Bruce Bakers’ dynamic sales and customer service
dvd.

http://www.bbakerinc.com/

I own it and have it imported into my itunes that plays randomly with
my music, while I work, reinforcing sales techniques that become part
of how you do business with people. ( I don’t have a “store”, so this
can play anytime, not while I have clients in of course ;> )

Good luck and keep doing what you love, when you put your
"everything" into your work, it shows and people will find a reason
to own it!

Laura Guptill
http://www.lauraguptilljewelry.com

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone with imput on sales/closing
sales techniques…I’m going to reread everything, take notes and try
to digest it all. I am pretty sure there are several key elements I
can incorporate. I think that earlier, when the economy was better, I
could get sales just because people liked what they saw, but now,
with the tighter economies, I have to be a bit more active at selling
because people are resisting more.

Jeanne

Even though I’ve been selling both jewelry and jewelry components in
my shop for 3 years, I still feel like a beginner in salesmanship.
However, I have been applying a technique in the shop that I heard
about as a way to improve your web site. That is to make
recommendations. Of course, that would only apply if the customer
appeared to need some help deciding, but it does seem to work.
Because I am perceived as “the expert” when it comes to the
components going into making a piece of jewelry, I take that and run
with it. If the customer can’t decide between two items, then I go
through the process of putting the two choices together with the
other item they are trying to match, then make my announcement “I
like that one better.” In the case where they can’t decide what kind
of thread they need, then I’ll say something like “this one is
stronger/more economical/easier to work with/etc.” or “this one
works really well for bead stringing, and you don’t need a needle” or
"for just one necklace, this one is the most economical." You get the
idea. Often the reason people shop in groups is so they can get some
feedback from their friends or family about their choices. I’m very
willing to be a stand-in friend or family member for that purpose. It
works. There really is no effort in getting closure on the sale once
they have made a decision - the decision is the closure.

Now, I’ve got to apply this advice to my web site too, since it’s
proven to be true in the shop.

Susan
Sun Country Gems
http://www.suncountrygems.com

you must learn selling skills, most of which involve listening to
the customer and trying to solve their problem, which is to buy the
right piece for their needs 

I’ve kept out of this because I’m only a decent salesperson- won’t
pretend to be an expert. I’ve also had in mind on this thread what
Jim hints at and a couple of others have, too. There is a partial
myth that some salespeople can sell snow to eskimos. It’s only
partially true, and those people don’t get asked to parties…
Otherwise you need to ask the question, "Is it my selling, or do they
really just not want to buy it? And if not, why not? Price, style,
fashion, quality? Lot’s of people look at lots of jewelry and have no
desire to possess the particular work. Lot’s of people treat
art/craft stores as museums, and bookstores as libraries - browsing
and “fun to visit”, not intending to buy at all. A very great deal of
jewelry in all genres just doesn’t fly. Are you making it for
yourself, or are you making it for your customers? If it’s for
yourself, then why would they want to buy it? In our business, I’ve
found that if someone A) Wants a piece of jewelry B) Likes your
jewelry in general and C) The price is right, they don’t need much
convincing, usually. And just having a good personality is a lot.
That’s just casual, though - as many have written there are whole
libraries on the subject…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com

John, you make a good point about some people just being browsers.

This is why it is important for a salesperson to learn how to
quickly qualify a prospect. If the prospect is not REALLY a prospect,
one’s time should not be wasted trying to sell them. Polite
conversation, maybe educational conversation, of course.

But, OTOH, one of the best books on jewelry sales is Friedman’s “No
Thanks, I’m Just Looking”. A real must-read for folks in the jewelry
sales business.

Wayne Emery
The Gemcutter
(563) 355-0891

Something you might want to try, is to get a friend to take a video
of you while you make your pitch. If that's where the problem is,
you will see it and be able to do something about it. I used to do
this to prepare for flight checks, interviews, etc. 

I don’t think you will be able to "see it’ unless you have the
ability to step outside yourself and also possess the self critical
faculty to observe yourself. Few possess those qualities.

I recently was an exhibitor at an art fair. During periodic lulls I
spoke with my immediate neighbors about things I observed them doing
interacting with customers. I wasn’t butting in; they were people who
I knew from previous shows and with whom I had a developing
friendship.

In any case they were pleased with my comments and said to me that
they thought the comments were helpful. They knew that I had
considered doing a workshop “Making Money Making Jewelry”. I
previously posted on this forum that I had decided not to do that
workshop because I didn’t think participants would get enough
sufficient benefit.

They, other exhibitors, urged me to consider doing something similar
to what I was doing for them. So, I thought Tucson, during the Gem
Show, might be a convenient venue since many will be there for the
show. At the moment I think it would be two days and limited to ten
participants. If there is enough interest I might do two sessions.

If anyone would be interested contact me off line.

The title of this thread “Any Tips for Closing Sales” suggests an
analogy in stone cutting. People have asked how I get the polish that
I get on certain stones expecting me to reveal my secret formula or
some such. The polish will come to the stone almost instantly if you
have done previous steps as they should be done. The “closing of the
sale” will also come almost instantly if you have properly prepared
your client or customer. It’s not an “open Sesame” moment. It’s
preparation.

Kevin Patrick Kelly

If you decide to do your seminar in other locations, please let us
know! Unfortunately, many of us can not make it to Tucson.

Judy Shaw
Orlando, FL

If you decide to do your seminar in other locations, please let us
know! 

At some point I probably will. It will take some time to organize and
Tucson seems obvious because many will be there for the gem shows.

I do art fairs from the east coast to the west coast normally so I
will travel to different locations to do presentations if there is a
demand.

KPK

Something you might want to try, is to get a friend to take a
video of you while you make your pitch. If that's where the problem
is, you will see it and be able to do something about it. 

It’s amazing, but people don’t recognize their own voice on
recordings, and they initially see video images of themselves as an
"other". My experience is with aviation/air traffic control audio
tapes and video training tapes where pilots hear or see
themselves…the initial reaction is, “who is that?”

The first time you hear yourself on audio, or see yourself on video,
it’s like seeing a stranger. You WILL hear or see defects. I didn’t
know I had a speech defect until…

Video is wonderful (and slightly uncomfortable) if you want to see
the truth. It’s not for everyone.

Kelley Dragon

Hello Orchidians,

Kelley said, “The first time you hear yourself on audio, or see
yourself on video, it’s like seeing a stranger. You WILL hear or see
defects.”

She’s right. I used to volunteer with a local scholarship pageant
which had a big focus on interview skills. The first thing we did
with the contestants was to video tape them in an interview
situation. It was truly eye-opening and a great teaching aid.

Having someone videotape you “in action” is a great idea IMHO. Judy
in Kansas, who will be heading back to the flat lands soon.

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.

First rule of closing is, Ask for the sale. Have you tried saying
things like, “So can I wrap that up for you?” and “What will it take
for you to walk out of here with that ring on your finger?”

20 years ago I took a Dale Carnagie sales course. It was one of the
best investments I ever made. There are plenty of sales books out
there these days. I would look for one that discusses the AIDA
formula. I really do not have the time to re-write someones book but
here it is:

ATTENTION. you may have it because you are at a craft show or
someone is in your store or maybe they are just curious. if you have
their attention for for over 15 seconds they may be on step 2 of the
sales process

INTEREST. people can give you there attention but still not be
interested in your goods or services. you may be able to breed
interest by showing them something or stressing features and
benifits. don’t play sales person, be on there side of the equation,
share passion for your product, or the fact that your product is
hand made and original. put it in there hand, let them hold the
puppy. this is how people fall in love with things. be at there
serves, ask a question or two that you know has a positive affirming
answer. try this…’ so do you like hand made things" “do you like to
were gold, silver etc.” " would you wear this often?" these are all
question that you already know that the answer is “yes”. probably
because you are talking to a person wearing handmade gold pieces.
They sound like stupid questions but they give that person a chance
to speak and build the next step…desire.

DESIRE. This is the point where a real sales pro will recognize that
the customer is “WET” wanting and in love with what you have to
offer. you think that is funny, don’t try to close a sale until you
ar to this point or you will blow it. can you build desire…yes,
but it is really their job, ask some more stupid questions…" what
do you like about the piece?" “or my work” “does it go with other
pieces that you have” “do our friends like your original pieces of
jewelry” This is where people often end up…and it stops there.
how frustrating is that? Where did it go wrong? why can’t we get to
the next step…Action

ACTION. call it the “money shot” the “close” or what ever you want
but the fact of the matter is all of the other steps can take 5 mins
or 5 years to build up to this point and remember a “closer” does
not take NO for an answer. if you are really on top of thing you
will recognize objections and manuver your way around them or smoke
them out and destroy them. most often it is price, or the fact that
they really do not NEED what you have. never say the word “money”.
close by asking some “yes” questions, then go in for the kill.
“would you like a box for that or will you wear it home?” “are we
going with the red or the blue one” how would you like to pay for
that?" I have literally said"well since you have this burning desire
all we need to do now is take action…(as i grab the receipt book
and start writing) any sales person will recognize you know how to
do your job.

What if they still want to walk? they have desire and they want to
take action but there is something stopping them. have you
identified what that is? let’s face it every one has a budget. Some
people want to be surprized. maybe the timing is just off. Have you
given all the on a card…this might be the kiss of
death…if they say “I’ll take your card” that is not a good sign.
it may be their escape plan, after all they do not want to be rude,
they have been fondling your goods…

try this, if you have been flexible about how they can pay for such
a thing. If you genuinly appriciate the interest they have for your
work ask them if you can right a few things down so you both have a
copy of it. Write down all of the on a 3 part sales
receipt with the word HOLD on the top of it so they can see it.
explain to them that you meet allot of people who have an interest
in your work and this is how you keep it all straight. they will
have a copy and you will have a copy with a receipt number and a
date. If they want to call you later this is how it can be done. No
mistakes, total service. you are not a desperate starving artist,
you are confident that what you have to offer is not avaliabe at
every turn of the corner.

i have worked for many people at highend craft shows up and down the
eastcoast. It is easy for me to be excited about their work. i am
frustrated for them when they can not close a sale. Every situation
is different, it just keeps things interesting. however every sale
goes through the 4 steps. think of the last major purchase you made.
Recognize the steps as you went through them. Did you buy it or were
you sold on it. Did you need it or did you have such a desire for it
that you had to have it?

Now go out a find a movie called GLENGERRY, GLENROSS it has Al
pachino, and Jack Lemon in it, this is a seedy look at the world of
land salesman in NYC.

Good Luck
wayne werner

James said

First rule of closing is, Ask for the sale. 

And he’s really right! I have been reading this thread with interest
as our studio tour was coming up (it was last weekend) and i wanted
to help sales along however possible.

I had a woman very interested in rings, but she was vacillating back
and forth, so I tried a line that someone here suggested as she was
looking at the ring on her finger - “How would you like to pay for
that? We take checks and credit cards.” And that was that - she
pulled out her CC and was happy to have a new ring.

Ivy