More Than Words

“These pretzels are making me thirsty.” Remember the line from Seinfeld? As Kramer repeats the line over and over with the emphasis changing from word to word it sounded completely different.

Every word in our language has a meaning. In most cases they can have multiple meanings. It takes context and emphasis to relay what the user is trying to convey. Now, throw in emotion and tone and we can change everything yet again. As salespeople, our usage and interpretation of the language is what determines (to a large extent), our level of success.  When selling diamonds, I have often used the statement “you can take the best material in the world and cut it poorly and the average consumer would take a much lower quality, perfectly cut diamond 9 times out of 10”. Similarly, I’ll take the skilled salesperson’s pitch on a less desirable product over the poor pitch of a superior product every time.

I’m not suggesting that it’s just about how you speak that makes you a great salesperson. It’s a combination of how you listen; utilizing what you hear and then conveying your message back to your prospect. That’s what makes you great. In other words, you need to be a great communicator.

If you engage a prospect in a controlled conversation, nearly all of them will tell you just what it will take to sell them. The key to that statement is “controlled”.

Most people outside the sales profession think that selling is all about talking. As the old adage goes, “If you have the gift of gab you should be in sales or a politician.”  If you believe that idea is anything more than a half-truth, then you are mistaken. The best salespeople are great listeners. They ask questions and listen to the answers. They may ask the same question in more than one way to make sure that they are getting it right. Most of what I am writing about pertains to retail selling, but the principles discussed are universal. However, in many other types of sales, there are other attributes that are key. For example, I don’t want to minimize persistence. Persistence can and will open doors. It might even knock down doors, although learning how to turn the handle may be better. Think about your favorite vendors. Now think about your biggest vendors. Are they the same? Usually, your favorite is someone you have great rapport with. It’s someone that you know pretty well, you may like the work they do for you and the way they treat you on a personal and professional level. Your biggest rep is often someone whose line is essential to your store. So, regardless of whether they go above and beyond in how they handle your account, they will still get your business. When you have a product that’s exclusive and highly desirable, you don’t need to be the best at selling to do reasonably well with it. However, how many of us are in that situation and how many products can pull that off? Not many.

If you want to be successful in this or any business, you need to be good at what you do. At the very least, you need to be better than your closest competition. This will allow you to get a bigger share of the business.

In the case of retail sales, the primary challenge is to create instant rapport.  Exceptional communication will facilitate that quicker than anything else.  Communication involves more than what is said. It involves what isn’t said, but communicated with body language, eye movement, and facial expressions.  Many of the best veteran salespeople do it instinctively: reading a person and then leading them to exactly where they want to go.

The problem for many salespeople is that we tend to short circuit the process, assume too much, and scratch our heads when they wander out the door to “think about it”.  Get all the questions answered.  Think of it as a game of 20 Questions.  Many answers are given by the fact they’re in a jewelry store. Many others can be answered by simply observing where their eyes go. Find out what is truly important to them. You are a problem solver. But, like in math, you’ll never get the answer if you don’t have all the information. Presenting the right product when the answer is clear will enable you to close more sales. Remember, not all the answers will be verbalized. The thirsty guy wants a glass of water, not another pretzel!  JBA







Bob DeMaria has 45 years of experience in sales, sales management and marketing as an inside and outside sales representative, sales manager for 4 different companies and owner of several businesses. He can be reached at 800-874-8768, ext. 110 or by email at [email protected]

Author:Jewelry Business Advisor