As we ramped up for the grand finale to 2017, there were a number of factors likely weighing on our minds: small things like the very survival of our business to be able to greet the challenges of 2018; the quantity and quality of the products we intend to offer our customers; the marketing we do to gain recognition of current and potential clients, the training of our personnel within our respective companies, and the most important factor of all - CUSTOMERS! “We all got ‘em, we all want ‘em. What do we do with ‘em?” (Jimmy Buffett, Fruitcakes, 1994).
Aside from those individuals who just accidentally happen upon our business and coincidentally find the mother-lode of service, price and quality, customers require a whole lot of cultivation, enticement, encouragement, love, development, gentle nudging, schmoozing and probing to discover what’s going to create the love relationship that keeps them constantly engaged with us, our business and our products.
When a person enters your presence, a relationship with that customer begins immediately. Now if you want to be known only as a “money-taking/receipt-issuing” thing, treat the buyer/payer thing just that way. If you want a customer, then you must use every interpersonal skill you possess to relate with them. This isn’t necessarily complicated - most preschoolers develop fundamental relationship skills fairly quickly.
“Hi! What’s your name? I’m Brad. It looks like you are really enjoying those pearl earrings! Would you like to take a closer look? These are set in yellow gold. We also have platinum and white gold…” And as you converse with your new friend, you might learn some great information if you ask the right questions: What’s the occasion? Who is the lucky recipient? What specifically is important to her in selecting pearl earrings? What other jewelry might she dream of having next?
This is a time to play a game of Twenty Questions to begin relating with the human in front of you. Make a friend! When we are talking to people that we love we are full of open-ended questions, do the same thing with your new business friends. With your friends, you accumulate knowledge of their business, their family, their preferences, their likes and dislikes. (Note: If you meet a lot of people in a day and have difficulty with remembering, take notes - written after the customer has departed from your domain - to help jog your memory)
Put your friend at ease. Learn to read body language and spoken language. Unless your friend is an expert poker-player, they will exhibit “tells” in their body language and their verbal interaction with you.
Express your sincere interest in them and their desires and needs. Honor the information they tell you. If you know little about what it is they share with you, share a bit about yourself to begin building things in common. If your customer is an avid crocheter, sharing all the details of last weekend’s rugby match is not going to build connection. By all means, express some curiosity about crocheting. Even if the most intelligent thing you can say is: “Boy I think that would be a tough skill to learn, much less master! And truthfully, I know very little about it. What can you tell me about the craft? Do you sell what you make or do you gift it to friends or donate it to your favorite causes?” Turn the conversation into an opportunity to learn!
Maybe the gift is a celebration of winning the Annual International Crocheters Award for the greatest number of tea cozies produced! You’ll never know unless you engage them in conversation. And while the International Crocheters Award may sound pathetically lame to you, to them it may be the achievement of a lifetime! Being appreciative of the information they share conveys that you are a reasonable human being. Your willingness to enter their world and to be respectful of that information begins to create a commonality and an upgrade in trust between you and your friend!
As the conversation progresses, discovering what is on your customer’s mind becomes easier and more focused when they have begun to form that relationship of trust with you. Express honest interest in what your customer is saying, clarify the information they give you, and offer relevant suggestions to meet their need.
The details in the customer’s head that will give you the information you need basically answer the W+H+ and T questions: Who, What, Why, Where, When, How and Tell Me). A forthright sharing of information on each of these points should elicit a number of suggestions from you to fulfill the fondest wishes in your customer’s heart. Every bit of information they share with you refines the di rection toward the ultimate choice for them! And voila - they focus on having their needs met; they throw out buying signals like bits of glitter and you score a bit of the contents of their wallets!
Everybody is happy: Your customer, because they have their delightful purchase and a friend they can trust; you, because you have a new friend, a customer, and a new sale; and the recipient of the gift, because “It’s just what they wanted!” Win! Win! Win!
Remember, in the jewelry industry we are not simply selling jewelry. We are helping people celebrate the special moments in their lives. Share in the emotional excitement, or pay attention to the head and the heart, and a lifetime friend could be made. In turn a lifetime customer as well. It is all about relationships today. I call it “Back to the Future Retail Jewelry Sales.”