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Losing Diamond Sales?  More importantly, are you giving them away to your competition?

If you still selling diamonds the "old" way then you are losing sales.  So what is the "old" way? First, let’s look at old values because it’s the consumer's values that help determine their spending patterns. It was not too long ago your customer was the Baby Boomer. The Internet, both as an educator and a seller of diamonds did not exist, and so the mystery of diamonds remained in hands of the jeweller.  Jewellery chain stores and big box stores did not hold the market share they have today, and Baby Boomers had different buying values than generation X and Y.

Other Industries have launched an assault on the consumer's discretionary dollar that once was largely the domain of the jewellery industry.  The cruise industry, the vacation industry, the electronics industry, the home renovation industry all have huge marketing budgets and they have made it easy to buy.

Let’s examine what of the above has impacted us.

Baby boomers (BB) vs generation X/Y (XY)

BB followed tradition. They fell in love and gave jewellery as an expression of that love, a friendship ring, going steady ring, promise ring, or whatever it was called in your part of the world.  The tradition of getting engaged, then married, then having the first child was expressed with jewellery. The engagement ring, the wedding ring and the anniversary ring, then followed years later with the second ring which was not affordable when they got engaged, was almost a god-given. This tradition was practiced by more than 90% of the population.

XY has seen the failure of this tradition with greater than 50% have seen their parents split and this has influenced their thinking. Despite the influence of the church to maintain tradition, divorces are on rise. Less XY go to church so between parents divorce and the lessor influence of the church, coupled by peers also breaking the traditional path of life, for many it has become "why get married?”  If marriage is not planned, then it follows that the first step of getting engaged is also not planned.  Often couples opt out of having children (much to their parent's dismay) and so the anniversary ring market is smaller (look at your anniversary ring sales over the past 5 to 10 years).

BB parents traditionally gave their daughters jewellery, often diamond jewellery, for her 21st birthday. Today, daughters of more affluent parents are more likely to be given a car or cruise than diamond jewellery.

There is only so much money to go around and there are more industries marketing hard to take that discretionary dollar away from our industry, and they are being successful.  At the same rate cruise ship are being launched, independent Jewellers are shutting their doors.  The day was there were one television, one phone and one car per family and no drugs. Today, there are 3 plus televisions, a handful of smartphones, at least three cars and 1 to 3 computers per house. Even discounting the cost of purchasing this stuff, look at annual running costs of cable TV, cell phone plans and Internet plans. Add these up for your home and you will see it costing you $2,000 to $5,000 per year, and they have become a necessity, not a luxury. Unfortunately, drugs both legal and illegal are also taking billions of discretionary dollars out of the market place.

And yet people still come through your door daily to look at diamonds, so why is this?  Why do they bother to get in their car, travel across town, pay to park and get wet running from their car to your store to look at diamonds? Despite all the challenges shown above there are some positives, but you have to recognize change is required if you want to keep and grow your share of the diamond market.

According to statistics, more diamonds were sold in the USA last year than ever. How can that be when we face the above competition on the discretionary dollar?  One saving grace is population growth.  BB were called Baby Boomers for a reason.  This kind of sums it up. More people means more money to be spent.

The Old way vs the New way to sell is diamonds.

The Old Way

Not too far back you were seen as the expert. You were the jeweller who could explain the mystery of diamond, the 4c characteristics and, if you knew more about diamonds than your competition, you enjoyed a higher credibility rating leading on to sales. This learning about diamonds was part of the customer’s buying experience. This part of the buying experience is fast disappearing as there is a new diamond expert in town... called the Internet.

The Internet is now the new educator, but not as yet (if ever) the new salesperson. While the Internet has decimated sales in some industries (when did you last go to a travel agent to book an airfare), it is proven that a high percentage of diamond buyers still take comfort in a jeweller.  They are typically doing their research on the Internet then coming into your store as a somewhat more informed consumer. Thus for the most part you have lost the ability to gain some points by being the expert, and so the old way is fast disappearing.

The New Way

Salespeople need to change gear to upgrade their selling techniques and skills.  They have to become very people orientated, more so than product related. They have to understand that they are NOT in the jewellery business. They are in the people business. They just happen to sell Jewellery.

The consumer can educate themselves on the Internet but they can’t get other parts of the buying experience from the Internet. Simple things like a smile, a warm greeting, conversation, reinforcement that they are making the right choice, answering questions, building a human relationship. In every sales situation, someone makes a sale... either you sell your customer on how you can help or they sell you on the fact that you can’t.

The old saying that you sell three things for each sale:  1- sell yourself, 2 - sell your company and 3 - sell the product, is never truer than it is today.

Step 1 - Selling Yourself

You have all been served in a store by someone you immediately felt uncomfortable with, or even straight out took an instant dislike to.  Simply put, they did not sell themselves to you.

The salesperson has less than 5 seconds to make a great first impression and it’s not just words they use. There are many messages conveyed with the simple word "Hello", ranging from "I have to say hello but I am busy with this important paperwork so you are just a distraction"  (no doubt you have experienced this aloof, superior icy greeting in stores sometime in the not too distant past) to the other end of the scale where there is the warm "Hello” you would receive from someone who is really pleased to see you. This simple first word can make or break a diamond sale.  I have trained thousands of Jewellery industry salespeople over 5 different countries and it never ceases to amaze me how many of these salespeople just do not understand the importance of selling themselves first (creating a great first impression with the customer). I cringe when I am greeted with “How can I help you". I feel like replying “and good morning to you”. This approach does nothing to build a relationship with the customer. By the way, the Internet CANNOT build this relationship with customers. This simple thing is a distinct advantage you have over the Internet and also many other competitors. Words are only 7% of a Message. Voice quality and body language make up the other 93% of the message so make sure your sales team is equipped and has the attitude to win every person that walks brought the door, and you will increase your sales.

Step 2 - Selling the Store

You have all been in stores and wondered about their business principals, do they exchange, do they look after their customers post-sales, is their product price-driven or is it quality and so on. There are two types of customers walking through your door. Repeat customers and first-time customers, Repeat customers are back because they have had a pleasant first-time experience, and so they have an expectation that your sales team need to meet. Do not take these customers for granted.  Treat them as warmly as a first time customer.

First Time Customers

This customer may be looking for more than one thing. They may be looking for a product, but more importantly, they may be looking for a replacement jeweller (why else would they be in your store if they already had a jeweller who had built a relationship with them).  You have the chance to gain a customer for life.

Once the salesperson forms the warm relationship (and make no bones about it, some customers are a lot harder than others to win over) then make sure the store and the benefits of what the store has to offer is featured in the conversation.   I could write a book on words to use, but that for another day.

Step 3 – Selling the Product

Ask questions including finding out the occasion for the customer's purchase. Is it for an engagement occasion, wedding anniversary, just because, second ring etc.? Engage the customer about the occasion, for example, ask about the occasion. When it’s an engagement ring, advise that a lot of couples select this store to purchase their engagement rings from (selling the store with the sublime message they have come to the right place to purchase their ring from) and that you love selling engagement rings because the happiness it brings (reinforcing they are in the right store and being served by the right person). If it's only one of the couple, ask about their partner and questions about their intended.  Show interest in the customer's big step in life. Salespeople have to add warm conversation points to their toolbox of selling tools if they want to be better at selling diamonds than any competitor.  They have to learn that they are selling the benefits of the product, not the features (characteristics of the diamond).  Sell on emotion and defend on logic.

The traditional way of selling a diamond, then a mount is setting yourself up for failure. Sell the mount first then the diamond. If a lady falls in love with the ring, then the diamond is a secondary consideration. Selling the diamond first puts you in competition with the internet. To summarise, the new way (and for many successful salespeople this has also been the old way) is to sell the occasion and match a product to the occasion rather than just selling a product (supermarkets sell products with no salesperson help).

Form relationships with your customers and they will return. If you still think the old way is the way to sell and you don't need to change, you are putting a smile on your competitors face. Finally, people don't adopt change easy. It takes a consistent approach to every customer until you replace the old selling habits with the new selling habits.

Good luck with this change.