By Pat Henneberry
Pat Henneberry is vice president of global learning and development at Hearts On Fire. She also is founder of The Jewelry Coach, a sales training community for jewelers. Reach her at
Customer visits are expensive. If you don’t make a sale your time, all the store efforts, advertising and the customer’s time have been wasted. 

So you need to make sure you’re at your best during face-to-face time with your customer. You need to rock their world. That being said, I see blunders and mistakes happening all the time. 

Here are the 10 most common blunders that jewelry sales professionals make during face-to-face time with potential customers. Some may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to stumble into them.

1. Being late to greet your customer. If you don’t greet your customer within seconds of them walking into your store, it tells them clearly that you don’t give a hoot about them or their time. Always try to have eye contact the moment they are walking into the store. Stores that have “greeters” are great (love that) but not everyone can afford a greeter at the door … or can you afford not to have a greeter? I say your staff takes turns making sure every customer is greeted. You can’t afford to wait for the customer to walk in and find someone to help them. You have to be proactive and meet the customer at the door. 

2. Your appearance. I can’t believe I have to say this, seriously. My dad use to say, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” My mom still says, “It’s better to be overdressed.” Well, they are right. Today dressing down is common, but not so much for the retail jewelry store. Your customers deserve the best treatment and the best experience and part of that experience is your appearance. It shows respect for your customers, lends credibility to you and what you are selling, and it makes you feel good.

3. Acting way too friendly. You’ll just seem phony and “salesy” if you pretend that a customer is like a long-lost friend. Approach each customer with respect and courtesy, not with a glad-hand and a backslap.

4. Talking rather than listening. Sales are about relationship building and gathering information. You can’t do either of those if you aren’t listening to the customer. Get curious about the customer. The second best tool a sales professional has is … asking questions. The first is their smile. Simple but so true.

5. Playing defense. If the customer doesn’t agree with an important point, arguing is only going to set that opinion in concrete. Getting defensive just throws off any connection you are trying to build. Instead, ask the customer why they hold that opinion then listen. You might learn something.

6. Giving a traditional sales pitch. Sure, you’ve got something to sell but nobody wants to hear a sales pitch. Have a discussion about the customer’s needs then move into a presentation of jewelry based on what you have learned. 

7. Falling short on product knowledge. The customer doesn’t want to hear, “I need to get back to you about that.” Make sure you’re trained on your current brands and policies. “Checking with the manager” days are over. Stop that customer in their tracks and be prepared to rock their world. This will take work on your part. Keep learning and keep attending training programs. Be a life learner.

8. Getting distracted by your smartphone. Ouch! What were you thinking? No call, email or message is going to be more important than the real live customer in front of you. When you’re talking with a customer, turn off your phone. I mean it. I see this all the time. You are working with a customer and there’s a call for you. You let the customer know you’ve been waiting for this call and you are sorry; it will only take a minute. Seriously, how would you feel if that was you? I am guessing not so good (I would walk out and, in fact, I have before.) The customer in front of you should be the center of your universe. Just saying … 

9. Meandering. The customer’s time is valuable. The younger customers need things quickly; they want you to stay on track. Don’t have wandering conversation that slowly gets to the point. Instead, provide a brief agenda of what you’re going to show them and discuss. 

That’s right I said I, agenda. Agenda on the sales floor, Pat’s crazy! This can be as simple as saying, ‘I am going to show you this and walk through that and we will end up with the best choice for you.’ Bam! Make it simple. 

10. Not being grateful. Your customer has walked into your store and you need to thank them for coming in, thank them for their time and thank them for trusting you. They can go anywhere. Be thankful.

Look, I know sometimes I am tough on you and I know some of this doesn’t apply to you. 

This is a gentle reminder. Continue to be that great sales professional you are. Make those lifetime customers and hang in there when things get tough. 

Believe in yourself and always, “Make it the best sales day ever!”

Get the Daily News >
National Jeweler

Fine Jewelry Industry News

Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.