One of the biggest challenges for retail jewelry sales people is qualifying customers. The stakes are just so high. Competition for jewelry consumers is fierce, nearly every retail jeweler can access the same inventory (with some exceptions for exclusivity), and even if you can’t get the same exact item, you can find something that looks like it. Retail jewelers spend a fortune bringing in memo goods that don’t sell, paying shipping costs to send them back, and booking appointments for no-shows. The one skill that mitigates all these risks and ensures better results is customer qualification.
Most sales trainers speak extensively about qualifying the customer, and there are dozens – if not hundreds! – of books on the subject. But to save you a bit of time (or to serve as a quick refresher!), here are some of our favorite tips for qualifying diamond-buying customers.
5 Tips for Better Sales Qualification
1. Don’t assume and don’t guess! Find out what is most important to the customer. Diamond buyers are not all alike. Some are interested in size, some in sparkle, some in long-term value. If you don’t ask them to describe what is important to them about a diamond, and what they are looking for in a diamond, you may end up selling the wrong benefits!
2. Remember that, when it comes to diamond buying, the customer may be far less informed than they think. Yes, the internet has made it easy to do research, but most of what is available on diamonds is fairly superficial. For example, a customer may say they want an oval diamond. Why? Most likely because they saw a diamond they liked, it looked oval to them, so they’re calling it oval. But consumers rarely understand that a rectangular cushion cut looks like an oval – but it’s not. To a diamond seller, the term “oval” means something very specific. To a lay person, “oval” is just a way to describe a shape. So get the customer to describe what they like – don’t assume that they are being specific with terms in the same way that you would be specific with terms. Even better? Ask the customer to show you what they like!
3. Customers sometimes use the words “size” and “budget” interchangeably, even though they are not the same thing. To a consumer who has been doing online research, they may think that “budget” means “certain number of carats.” But we know that’s not true. One of our retail customers recently told us about a customer who came in insisting that he could not buy more than a 1.5 carat diamond. So, the salesperson started showing the fellow all the 1.5 carat diamonds. Nothing satisfied him, so he went elsewhere and bought. When he returned to that store later, looking for a different jewelry item, they saw his fiancé wearing a 2.5 carat fancy-shaped diamond. Apparently, the fellow had a $10,000 budget, and in his mind, that could only buy a 1.5 carat diamond. The salesperson at the other store asked more questions, got to the heart of the buyer’s needs, and showed him some diamonds that knocked his socks off.
4. It’s tempting, when selling diamonds, to start talking about characteristics right away. Don’t do it! It’s a trap that can limit – or even lose – a sale. Instead, start by asking the customer what kind of “look” they like, what pleases or displeases them, and what they would choose as a perfect diamond if budget was not an object. Get people talking about these things first, and you’ll get to the heart of what matters to them faster. You may find out that a customer thinks they need a “D-F” diamond – because that’s what some internet article or the salesperson at another jewelry store said – but they don’t realize that a G color could be perfectly satisfying to them – and allow them to buy a bigger stone.
5. Always find out where the customer is in the buying cycle. Have they been doing online research? If so, what type? What have they learned? Is their first store visit, or their 10th? Do they still have a lot of time to make a decision, or is their deadline looming? Getting answers to these questions will allow you to give the customer better guidance.
And of course, we encourage you to use the VDB app and platform to help you in your customer qualification activities! You can use our app to show customers examples of different types of diamonds (and colored gemstones – and finished jewelry!), build wish lists, pre-sell, put items on hold or bring in their favorites on memo, and quickly make purchases. If you do a better job on just these five points of qualification, you will increase your sales and profits, and increase the loyalty of your customers.