Across The Counter
Reprinted from November 1990
The Midas Touch
We often say we are “touched” by someone’s actions. College kids put the “touch” on dad for extra funds. The Bible speaks of Jesus “touching” little children. We hear of “touch me not” type of individuals. We write letters to keep “in touch.”
The physical action of “touching” is one of the most important gestures exhibited by human beings of all levels. Actually the sense of touch is the most important and powerful of all the senses. The effects of physical contact are instantly telegraphed to the brain, which interprets the gestures as affection, interest, friendliness, kindness, consideration and goodwill.
In our American society women are permitted more freedom of contact with men and other women than men with women or other men. Men may actually shrivel with fear that an innocent touching gesture might be mistakenly interpreted as aggression on his part. He also fears any physical contact with another man might possibly be construed as an effeminate action. How unfortunate this is.
In selling, subtle physical contact with the consumer can mean the difference in making the sale and losing it altogether. The buying public has proven over and over again they buy from those they trust and like. A jeweler who can telegraph sincerity and warmth to the customer holds a far better chance of getting the sale than a jeweler who remains coldly aloof and distant.
Let’s assume a customer has asked to see some cultured pearls. The jeweler has produced several strands for her inspection. She holds them to her throat to judge the color and length and tries to affix the catch. A jeweler would be a clod to allow her to fumble with an unfamiliar fastener and should offer to assist her. Once he has secured the catch, he should step back and admire the necklace. It is highly embarrassing for a refined lady to be forced into asking for assistance. If it is preferred, a lady clerk can perform the same service for the customer. This type of physical contact rarely arouses resentment or reluctance.
Another field open to legitimate physical contact with customers lies in the showing of bracelets and watches and new watchbands. It is amazing how many customers (both male and female) are expected to wrestle with a difficult bracelet or catch on a watch band while a clerk stands by, looking for all the world like a cigar store Indian. The sexual polarity between clerk and customer, male-male, male-female, female-female, is not important. The gesture of aiding a customer with a difficult-to-fasten catch will be received and translated as being considerate.
Customers trying on rings offer additional opportunities for salespeople to establish rapport through physical contact. Help your customer, lady or gentleman, to slip the ring on the proper finger. (Many customers do not know which finger is the appropriate one, nor the correct way to face the ring, so usually warmly welcome assistance) Once the ring is in place, hold their hand momentarily and admire their choice. Be brief, but not hurried.
The recipient of the touch will read into the gesture whatever you have intended to project. If no romantic overtones are suggested, then none will be received. It should be remembered romantic gestures are always preceded by eye communication and this type of communication is not likely when jewelry is being discussed.
Once I encountered a very obnoxious male customer. He was a big man, ugly and rude. Perhaps he’d been reminded of his shortcomings often because he was highly defensive and almost abusive in approach. Frankly I hated to wait on him. After all, winning him over seemed almost impossible.
For a brief second I asked myself why. Why is he so rude? Well, perhaps he has been rejected so many times he plans on rejecting me before I have the opportunity to insult or humiliate him. I smiled at him but he remained sour.
Then I took a watch from the showcase, extracted it from the box and put it on his wrist, sliding it over his huge hand. Immediately he relaxed and smiled because the band was far too small. But after a few trials, he found one he liked and the purchase was made. The customer was actually “touched” by physical contact. He has reasoned himself to be so undesirable and distasteful in our eyes that he assumed we would never consider any physical contact with him.
This approach works well with male-male and female-female as well as with female-male. Intentions of a seductive female or a lecherous man are easily distinguishable from those of ordinary customers. For one thing, those with unhealthy intentions are too brazen and forward, too insistent on taking liberties.
I’ve seen our jeweler (who is of small physical stature) actually poke scowling, stuffy male customers in the stomach and ask jokingly “What are you so sour about? Nothing can be that bad!” Fortunately the customers have always smiled, relaxed and we have been able to reach an agreement with them no matter what the original recipe.
A certain amount of “personality” must be interwoven into any “touching gesture.” If a jeweler is all thumbs when helping a lady fasten a necklace, she will be amused and take on a feeling of superiority and motherliness. She knows the jeweler is adept with his fingers and accepts his clumsy actions as a form of nervousness caused by her proximity.
What better way is there for a jeweler to say, “I like you well enough to assist you. But I also respect your privacy and don’t want you to think for one moment that I am getting fresh!” Even if a jeweler is extremely deft at this type of thing, it behooves him to humble himself slightly – feigning minor difficulty when making this type of physical contact with women customers. By so doing, he creates confidence and allows the lady a slight edge of superiority.
Everything King Midas touched turned to gold. You can turn your gold into profits too by simple physical contact with your customers. Remember to use the Midas Touch when dealing with customers.