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So, you think you are in the jewellery business. After all, you have the word jewellers above the door, your windows and showcases display jewellery, people come in to buy jewellery, they refer to you as their jeweller, so it's natural for you to think you are in the jewellery business.

But more and more jewellers are coming to recognise that they are in fact in the people business, and they just happen to sell jewellery.  However, it's not just jewellers who are identifying the change required to win and retain customers.  Jewellers competitors are also recognising this fact.

Consider this. Most people who enter your store, do not do so to buy jewellery.  Their real motivation is to satisfy an occasion. It just so happens that tradition brings them to you to buy engagement, wedding and anniversary rings. Apart from these three occasions, other occasions such as Christmas, Anniversaries, Birthdays, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, Father's Day, Just Because (self-purchase), Fashion purchases (e.g. Pandora), Needs purchase (such as a watch) can be satisfied by many other industries. Think about it… how many sales have you lost to flat-screen televisions, the latest iPhone, cruises, international holidays, a new kitchen, a new car, gift shops, and so on?

The fact is that other industries are out marketing the jewellery industry for the consumer discretionary dollar. How many times have you seen cruises and discount international flights advertised in the past month? How many billions were spent on smartphones last month? Get my drift?

The question really is “Are these other industries taking business off us... or are we giving it away?”

It's a simple equation. You have to stop selling jewellery and start satisfying people's needs, to better build customer relations... before others do.  If you want repeat customers you have to earn them, starting with their first visit to your store.

So, how do you do this?  When a customer walks into your store, find out the reason why they are standing in front of you because there will be a reason. Whether you can satisfy that reason or you lose the customer to one of many other industries who are trying hard to gain your customer’s dollars, will largely depend on how well you form the relationship with the customer in the first two minutes.

Let me explain.  A customer comes in and stands in front of you to be served. The very first thought that should come into your head is "Why is this potential customer standing in front of me, rather than any other store in town?"  If you were a doctor, a petrol station attendant, a supermarket checkout operator it would be obvious why they are standing in front of you, but as it's not so obvious to you, you need to find out why.

If you think the customer is standing in front of you because they want to buy something, think again. They are standing in front of you because they have an occasion to fulfil - a problem to solve.

What we do know is the potential customer is standing in front of you hoping to satisfy a need for only one of two people, either themself or another person.  We also know they chose your store out of all stores in town.

Let's back up a bit. You spend a lot of money on exposure (rent and advertising) to get customers through your door, so what happens in the first  60 seconds of customers walking in your door determines how much of this exposure cost is wasted.

Classic wrong approaches to serving:
“Can I help you?”
“How can I help you?”
“Just looking?  Feel free to look around. We have a nice new range of xxxx over there.”

Replace this with a simple "Good morning, how's your day been so far?"
"Good afternoon. It's great to see the sun has come out."  Or some such greeting you would use with a friend.

First form the relationship, then the sale comes next.  Top salespeople know the value of the sales steps of first selling yourself, then selling your company followed by selling the product.  Unfortunately, many salespeople miss out on steps one and two.

The following quote from the Carnegie Institute of Technology says it all:

“85% of your financial success is due to your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate and lead.  Shockingly, only 15% is due to technical knowledge.”

Start taking notice of how more and more television adverts address people than products.
It does not take a lot to change your focus to one of the people rather than products but if you can master the technique, you will open more sales which will result in closing more sales, and just as important you will leave the customer with a wow-effect which will bring them back in.

We have all walked out of a store with a product we needed but only with what we paid for. When did you last leave a service station or supermarket with a truly memorable shopping experience?  We have also walked out of other stores with not only the product but with a memorable experience… an experience that takes us back to that store for future purchases.

Have a staff meeting to discuss how you can make small changes to your approach to customers, to your opening sales technique, to forming better customer relationships.

True story. A salesperson in a client’s store was invited to two weddings in her first year on the sales floor (by wedding ring customers she had never met before) so powerful was her ability to form relationships. No wonder she was the number one salesperson in the store, even though she did not come from the jewellery industry.

To summarize, remember we are in the people business, we just so happen to sell jewelry. Keep reminding yourself of this and you will become a better salesperson.