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My wife and I have a jewelry booth at a large county fair on the US west coast. We sell freshwater pearl strands and accented accessories in a price range of $50-$400. We seem to attract all ages (say 25+) and ethnicities from seemingly a wide range of economic backgrounds, singles/couples/spouses, i.e. county fairgoers.

I rely on her to interact with customers and close transactions when we're together, but I'll be alone for a few days here and there for the duration of the event. What tips can you give me to persuade our female customers to buy our products?

I'm not apprehensive, but I have zero retail sales experience and can't seem to navigate the awkward silence that ensues after reciting the bare facts, as the customer continues to browse. With unaccompanied guys (<5% of customers) I've had success educating, highlighting the quality and the novelty of provenance (we import from the Philippines), and just forming the dude bond. They are usually already set on buying anyway and are just looking for advice (from my wife) and trustworthiness.

As a pro photographer my go-to is complementing skin tones, but often more is needed. Interactions don't go bad per se, I just don't close. Objections are rarely voiced, they just say thank you and move on.

When they leave without buying, I feel as though I could've done more to secure a sale, but I'm not sure what.

The trade show environment is particularly challenging with other vendors and disinterested significant others drawing attention away from the interaction. I know the product; I want to get better at persuasion and selling face-to-face.

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    @OldPadawan as a man vs women, there will be do/don't that is not applicable when the sales is woman. I'm thinking of complimenting+flirting, but I'm not an expert on that. However, I have a friend that specializes in taking in females (of all ages) as customers. Of course, his appearance (handsome) helps a lot, but the way he smooth talks women into buying virtually "anything" he offer, man, wish I could be like him. – Vylix Sep 11 '17 at 9:38
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    meta post – Vylix Sep 11 '17 at 9:56
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    Are the only customers female? I used to drag my boyfriend in fairs and try on dozens of earrings, bracelets etc. What do you say to a male customer who is looking to buy a piece of jewelry for his girlfriend/partner? Are female clients more difficult to persuade? Why? Can you provide an example of a sale that went badly? Is this your first time you are alone on a booth? First time ever in retail? – user3114 Sep 11 '17 at 16:51
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    No retail experience. With unaccompanied guys (<5% of customers) I've had success educating, highlighting quality and the novelty of provenance (we import from the Philippines), and just forming the dude bond. They are usually already set on buying anyway and are just looking for advice (from my wife) and trustworthiness. The same is not as impactful with the ladies. As a pro photographer my go-to is complementing skin tones, but often more is needed. Interactions don't go bad per se, I just don't close. Objections are rarely voiced, they just say thank you and move on. – onacosmicscale Sep 11 '17 at 17:55
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    Are you attractive? If so, you can get away with quite a bit more than if you are not. If you are not, I'm not sure this is possible without opening yourself up to more trouble than it's worth. – A. McDaniel Sep 11 '17 at 23:46
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The Answer: Consultancy.

I haven't sold jewelry, but I've sold six and seven figure gigs. This is a good approach for people uncomfortable with flattery and "persuasion" or glad-handing or cajoling or becoming "friends" with a customer, people uncomfortable with lying about discounts and one-time offers that aren't really one-time. People that aren't good looking or charismatic, for that matter.

It requires some knowledge of your product and how it is used. You can be yourself! (if yourself is a person interested in making a profit by truly satisfying a customer with your product).

This relies on a universal truth: People love to talk about themselves.

First, understand your role and attitude: You are a specialist trying to solve a problem for your customer, but put yourself in a servant role (as most doctors do when trying to understand patients that need help). Dress and act the part (not of a doctor, but this is a similar dynamic). So no ripped T-shirts or sandals; wear a button shirt, pants without holes and closed shoes.

Begin with open questions about their situation for this product probably two or three at most. Perhaps here,

"Are you looking for yourself, or are you looking for a gift?"

"In what kinds of situations would you (or she) wear pieces like ours?" (Examples to help them out: at work? Romantic outings? Events or concerts? Business meetings with clients?")

"Is this for a particular event, or to add to your [her] collection?"

"What would you say is your [her] favorite piece to wear?" (if not in the answer, "What kinds of occasions do you get that out?"

Listen to the answers, These are not idle questions, they need to shape your responses and the range of prices you offer.

Somebody "just looking for something fun" is looking for a bargain. Somebody attending a business function (promotion party, client meeting) will buy something more expensive; they don't want it to look cheap. Those are the people you can tell about the provenance; it is something they might use; "I fell in love with this piece, it is made by moon elves in a cave in the Philippines," or whatever it is that makes it special.

Next, figure out the constraints. Why hasn't she bought something? You know the type of jewelery she is looking for. Say something like (in your words, same ideas) "So you haven't found what you're looking for yet, how would you describe what speaks to you? Is it more the colors or the pattern or the size? How about on this tray, can you point out a More Like This, Less Like That kind of example?"

Again, Listen, and analyze. By talking about themselves they have narrowed your options.

Your next step: Solve their problem (or tell them your products might not fill the bill).

"Let me try a few things, and you tell me if we're on the right track."

Keep up the interaction, ask her for guidance. If she settles on something, or a few, try to close: "I think that's it, this one [any of these] can get the job done. What do you think?"

If the close doesn't work, move back to a question. If you detect you aren't going to make a sale, be polite but stop trying to help. "Well, I'll let you think about it, just let me know if I can help."

Feel free to compliment them if it feels natural; personally I would talk about how I feel about it: "I love that piece, whoever designed that has an eye for contrast [or drama, or natural lines, etc]." Just make sure you keep telling the truth, it is crucial to the method: People detect lies and empty compliments quickly, even subconsciously. If you are telling the truth and sincerely trying to help (and know your product) you will make sales.

You are aiming to solve a problem, even an impulse buy of a frivolous item is helping them have some fun in life; that is usually why they are standing at your table.

Do NOT think you are intruding to take the initiative with them, many people are shy, and most feel like if they start, you will expect them to buy something, or they will feel obligated to buy something for taking up your time, so they don't start! If you FAIL to engage them you haven't done your job, and without your help they may have missed out on the fun they were seeking.

Don't do that, ask them a question. Then YOU started this thing, and they can proceed to shop without obligation. Maybe they will open up and you can help them find something fun, that in weeks to come they will still be happy they bought. From such a nice man!

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    Very helpful and more my speed, especially: "even an impulse buy of a frivolous item is helping them have some fun in life; that is usually why they are standing at your table, " and "YOU started this thing, and they can proceed to shop without obligation". Really suits the typical scenario. Thank you. – onacosmicscale Sep 20 '17 at 5:17
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Few things you can do:

1. Flirting:

Wow that makes your eyes twinkle so beautifully, I could get lost looking at it

I don't know how to say this, but you wearing that necklace makes me want to divorce my wife and propose to you!!

Honestly, this might only work if you yourself look endearing/charming. If you think you don't look charming enough to pull this off, you may want to go to just regular flattery as follows.

2. Flattery:

Alright Ma'm, please just take that earring! It is on the house. That looks so good on you, I feel bad even charging you for it. [Make sure she doesn't take this seriously though!]

[A different version of the line above:] We have a special policy going on right now. You try our jewelry and the prettier you look wearing them, the bigger the discount is. Oh dear god this one has to be free! [With the perfect timing, your exclamation of something being free should be exactly when the lady puts the jewelry on. It needs to be spontaneous, not rehearsed.]

[In a low voice:] That lady over there asked me why the necklace you are wearing is prettier than the one she just bought. I told her, it is not the necklace. Its the person! [Make sure you point to a lady that you know for a fact is not with this lady though. That might not work out well for you!]

3. Provocation:

This is a bit more dangerous. Tread very carefully. Analyze your customer before you use this.

[When the customer says she wants to try a particular necklace]This one right here? I don't know.. Your skin tone does not seem to match the style of this necklace.

[When the customer says she wants to try a particular necklace]This one? Oh this is on the expensive side. This comes out to be $350. Do you still want to try it on?

[When the customer tries a particular necklace]I feel like you may need to go for something more [random necklace lingo].

4. Brutal honesty:

By brutal honesty, I am not suggesting telling the truth. I am suggesting telling lines that sound like there is no need for you to lie about them.

Of all the necklaces we have, this is the one necklace that is actually worth the price. I barely make a profit from this one piece right here. I sell it for its beauty and nothing else.

I got to be honest, I know this is overpriced. I am not going to act like this is cheap. But this one has a [Something special with that particular piece that only a few of your other pieces have; She shouldn't be able to easily catch a different one that has the same perk as the one she has. Make this one special.] and you cannot find any that looks as pretty as these ones. You can go over to [some other jewelry store] and see how much they charge for the stuff they sell. And compare the quality of the two.

You got to agree that is prettiest thing you've seen! I know it is pricey, but just look at yourself! You got to agree you love how radiant you look right now.

Conclusion:

Obviously, I do not know ANYTHING about jewelry. Its not about what you sell, its about how you sell it. This is what you are hoping to achieve by using these lines:

  1. Make the customer laugh.
  2. Make the customer talk.
  3. Make the customer stay.
  4. Make the customer like you.

All these are going to give you an advantage and maybe help you make a few more sales.

Disclaimer:

I do not have any sales education. I've worked a few jobs in sales, but nothing commission based (where making sales was a priority). I've just heard a lot of people tell me I have a way with customers. That is where all this is coming from. If any of this is stupid or wouldn't work, please let me know in the comments. I'd love to learn why I'm wrong.

I hope this helps you close more sales.

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    Thanks! I laughed out loud, this is so far outside my comfort zone. But today's the (first) day, so I will apply your tuition and we'll see what happens! – onacosmicscale Sep 13 '17 at 15:12
  • You're welcome @onacosmicscale and I hope it works out for you. If you see one of these lines working one time with one customer, you will get confident enough to improvise and play around the customer. It just takes ONE sale! :) – Crazy Cucumber Sep 13 '17 at 15:14
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Jewelry is a luxury. Its not like a car or a electronic where people buy them to get the latest and greatest, or need the functionality. People buy Jewelry to spoil themselves. For that reason there is not form that will work for everyone because, people like to be spoiled in different ways.

Women window shop a lot more than men do in jewelry stores. Think about it as how you go to the specialty store for your favorite hobby sometimes, even though you are not planning to buy anything. You are just going to look and think and have a good time. So you are never going to get anywhere near a 100% sales rate.

Because it is a luxury, and because (wild guess here) 95% of the people you encounter have no intention of actually buying anything, you need to connect with your customers personally if you want to get them to jump over the fence to become a paying customer.

In a comment you said:

Sure I've asked {my wife}, but she's a "natural" who leverages personality and camaraderie more than sales technique.

Guess what that is 99.999999999% of sales technique in the first place.

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You've asked specifically how to close customers but your question is somewhat ambiguous as to where the customers are in your sales funnel. They may not be ready to be closed upon. Closing is the final process of sales, involving payment, receipts, and possibly price negotiation.

We can assume that they have already expressed an interest in your jewelry. Based upon your comment about what your wife does and some of my own ideas about jewelry, I am willing to make a further assumption and propose that you have not made the experience personal enough. You have not sold it to them at all, so there is nothing to close.

Each individual audience is different. It may take some time before you are able to read your customers and apply the appropriate strategy to generate a connection with your products.

Ask general questions which gently probe their interest. Let the customer talk to you. As they are talking let them know you are listening by asking appropriate questions related to what they have already said.

It sounds like you may have been giving a technical monologue instead. Try asking them questions about what they are looking for. Try to get them to open up about what their expectations are before gently steering that interest into your existing products.

Use the personal details they have provided to create a connection with the product.

"What are you looking for today?" "Are you looking for something to complement an existing piece?" "Do you need something to match an outfit?"

Pick something and suggest it. If they object, listen to their reasoning to gain more information about their preferences. This is a great one for people who are "just browsing" take something from below the counter and ask them for their opinion on it. Politely solicit their feedback to get them talking about what they want.

You may also talk to them about the attendance level of the trade show or other general topics, but only as a stepping stone to the customer's preferences.

Let yourself strike out so you know what works for you. Above all you need to feel comfortable before they will feel comfortable opening up with you.

Avoid mentioning things like: "...It is not my area of expertise..." "I am a photographer, therefore..." "if my wife were here, she could tell you about.."

As you learn this process your next priority will be anticipating the customer's actions and learning to control the tempo. This is much like controlling the initiative in a game of chess. You will learn the most common objections and have responses ready to steer them back on course. You don't want to counter objections by disagreeing with the customer. You are there to help them reach the goal of a purchase.

Once you have the customer in a chatty state you can concern yourself with closing. This will become a priority when you feel that you are wasting time with someone who browses or talks too much without purchasing. In these situations you can indicate a time preference or a discount.

Closing may also include piggybacking multiple items into a single sale. You might rationalize how the two or more items go together: "I just couldn't sell them separately..." You can personify them and suggest that the items have a bond: "X would be lonely here in the display case without Y..."

Finally, If you are unable to close, keep the door open by offering contact information. Provide a business card with the option to purchase from your website. Keep this as a last option. If the customer feels that they can buy it at anytime, they may put it off and forget all about your products.

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