By Jim Ackerman
Jim Ackerman is a retail jewelry marketing expert who has spoken at JA New York, JCK and other jewelry trade shows. He can be reached at 800-584-7585, ext. 3 or by email at
A buyer comes in looking for something for his wife. Is he taking a risk? How so … and how much? How does this effect his buying decisions, and what can you do about it?

Answers: Yes, he’s at risk. How much depends on a number of things, but it definitely affects his buying decisions and you can definitely help manage the risk.

And you must, if you want to increase your closing rate and your average transaction, as well as lock in rock-solid client loyalty for life.

If you’re thinking the prospect is at risk of making a financial mistake, you’re missing the much bigger picture. His risk is emotional in nature, and the money is a relatively minor part of that.

If the prospect comes in to get a Valentine’s Day trinket for his wife, the risk level is relatively low.

If the prospect comes in to get a big thank-you gift because his wife has just spent four years helping him get through medical school, the risk is significantly higher.

His need to “get it right” puts a lot of pressure on him that has little to do with money.

Your job, as a professional jewelry salesperson is to do the following.

1. Help the prospect understand his risk.
2. Help the prospect understand the depth and implications of that risk.
3. Help the prospect see the benefits of making a good, risk-eliminating decision.
4. Make sure the prospect’s decision is adequate to resolve his “problem” and eliminate the risk.

In the case of the Valentine’s trinket, risk is small and little needs to be done beyond helping the prospect find the right product for the right price, take the order and send him on his merry way.

But if you use the same approach in the thanks-for-medical-school scenario, odds are you’ll flat-out blow the sale.

Regardless of your experience or selling style, in the second scenario, you must assess the situation, identify the problem, explore the depth and implications of that problem and then define the benefits of resolving that problem, all before worrying about what product to sell.

You do this by asking a series of questions, specifically designed to accomplish those goals.

These questions can be thought out in advance, tested and refined, and can apply to virtually any and every prospect in a high-ticket buying situation.

Think SPIN …

Need payoff

Once you use those questions, you’ll know what the prospect’s need is, how big of a deal it is, how important it is he gets it right, and what the rewards will be for solving the dilemma.

You’ll also benefit from the perception you have conveyed that you care more about the prospect than you do about “hawking product.” And that always translates into sales and loyalty.

Once you have shown the prospect a product he likes, ask this: Is this adequate to fully express the emotion you indicated you want to express?

If the answer is yes, you’ve got your sale. If it’s no, you can go bigger or go more, and you will add to your sale.

The prospect wins either way, and so do you.

Jim Ackerman is known as The Marketing Coach to the jewelry industry and has addressed jewelry retailers at jewelry trade shows including JA New York, JCK, the Atlanta Jewelry Show and others. He is providing National Jeweler readers with a free Buyer Risk Management copy of his BizKaboom Newsletter, valued at $37. Send your email request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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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.