By Sherry Smith
Sherry Smith is director of business development for Edge Retail Academy, where she works with some of the industry’s premier brands. She can be contacted at
When I ran my jewelry stores, it would frustrate me to hear salespeople ever say “no” to our customers. The word sounds dismissive, it is frequently a poor substitute for creative thinking and it almost always is disappointing to our customers.

To focus our efforts on what we could do for our customers, we banned the word no from our sales floor. We challenged our team to find the “yes,” or an alternative solution, when responding to our customers’ questions.

Here are a few examples of where you could insert a yes, or at least suggest an alternative, instead of just saying no.   

When a Customer Asks If You Carry a Particular Brand (when you don’t)
• Respond by asking open-ended questions such as: What is your favorite thing about that brand? Or: Is there a specific piece that you were looking for?

• You might discover that it isn’t the brand the customer is set on, but a certain look or style. This will give you an opportunity to pull out similar items and turn it into a sale.

When a Customer Asks If Can You Repair This Piece of Jewelry (and you cannot because it is a fragile or worn item or a piece of costume jewelry)
• Tell the customer what you can do for them.

• Show them a similar item and point out its qualities, telling them that it is occasionally better to buy a replacement piece than to undertake the costs (and risks) of trying to repair certain pieces.

When a Customer Asks for a Discount (and you don’t discount)
• Respond by emphasizing what they get when they purchase from you, such as your warranty or appraisal for significant purchases, or perhaps it is a free ring sizing, complimentary engraving or a gift bag filled with small gifts.

• Another potential response would be to show your customers your clearance (aged/non-performing) jewelry for which you might be able to offer a discount.  

When a Customer Asks to Speak to the Owner
• Answer “of course,” then start with the customer and attempt to gather pertinent information.

• Oftentimes, the salesperson will be able to take care of all the customer’s needs.

• When wrapping up the transaction, bring the owner in to say a quick hello and acknowledge that the customer’s initial request was heard.

When a Customer Asks for Services You Don’t Provide
• Act as a concierge by presenting your customers with referrals. Always have in your arsenal people and places you would confidently refer your customers to.

• Be sure to have all their contact information readily accessible. Offer to call your contact to let them know you’re sending over your good customer in need of their services.

Saying “no” is a state of mind. In most cases, there are better options that will more readily engage your customer.

Have a little fun by challenging yourself and your team to eliminate saying no. Your customers will thank you for it.

Sherry Smith is director of business development for Edge Retail Academy, where she works with some of the industry’s premier brands. She is also a business advisor to select independent jewelry stores. Smith was a principle partner in her own retail jewelry stores for 20 years. She can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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