Columnists

The PR Adviser: Closing Sales and Following Up

ColumnistsMar 12, 2024

The PR Adviser: Closing Sales and Following Up

Lilian Raji offers advice to a business owner who is having trouble crossing the finish line with customers.

National Jeweler columnist Lilian Raji
Lilian Raji is a strategic communications and PR adviser who helps companies understand their marketing problems, then designs and executes strategies to solve them.
Hello, dear readers! In my last column, I answered a question about how up-and-coming designers can keep the momentum going after an early victory. 

This week, I tackle a query from a reader who is having trouble closing sales. 

Q. I’ve recently encountered a client who spent five hours over the course of a few weeks, committing verbally to purchasing a pair of earrings she loved. When I sent her the invoice to collect payment prior to shipping, I didn’t hear from her. I followed up, and no response. 

Similarly, another client was going to send me payment prior to shipping and then, last minute, decided to put a hold on the purchase. It’s frustrating when they don’t value my time and the sale is no longer there. Are there some tactics for them to keep their word and purchase what they committed to?

I also feel clients love to engage, they love to hear my story, for me to show them the collections, and then they leave. In general, I despise selling; I’m not good at it. But I feel I need to learn, as a female solo business owner, to place value on my time and efforts. I am sure I can improve on selling. 

What are some tips on closing a jewelry deal?

Sincerely,

Jilted at the Checkout Alter

A. Dear Jilted,

You’ve encountered the insidious tire kicker, the bane of my existence when I was a top seller at Tourneau.

The tire kicker is an energy vampire who makes you feel like you’re about to close the sale of a lifetime as you perform your best rendition of  “When You’re Good to Mama” from “Chicago”—“Mama” being your gorgeous designs, and “being good” meaning handing over a credit card.   

You hit that final crescendo, belting out “Mama’s good to you!” while confidently extending your hand for their AmEx, only for them to say they need to think about it and quickly dash off. 

Disgusted and ready to encore with “Cell Block Tango,” you’ve instead, sadly, become “Mister Cellophane.”

(If you’ve never seen the movie Chicago, do so immediately! Best musical to movie adaptation ever!)   

Now, how do you close a deal with these people? 

You can’t. All your razzle dazzle won’t help. They were never going to buy.

You say you hate selling? So do I! 

When I launched my agency 20 years ago, I failed miserably at selling myself.  I’d get asked, “what can you do for me?” and like a bumbling idiot, I’d rattle off everything I was good at, only to be told, “well, I don’t need any of that.” And off I’d go feeling rejected.

Now? All I care about is love! 

And by “love,” I mean creating emotional responses in my clients by talking to them about their deepest desires and all that jazz

OK, I think I’ve exhausted my Chicago references! 

Jilted, my jeweler, you’ve been selling based on how you feel about your jewelry. But your feelings don’t matter!

Too harsh? It’s the truth. Your feelings aren’t going to pay for your next vacation to Bora Bora. But your customer’s feelings will!

Let’s run through a scenario where a woman stops by to see that exquisite “Peacock” fancy sapphire ring I fell in love with on your website. As you take the ring from the case, begin wiping away any real or imaginary fingerprints with a cloth.

Make her wait. She may become irritated, impatient. That’s the point. You’re creating her first emotional response, one that puts you in a position of power, the power to turn her irritation into pleasure when you finally hand her the ring. 

You’re not going to hand over an object of your blood, sweat and tears to just anyone, and you’re certainly not going to offer up this masterpiece covered in (imaginary or real) dust and fingerprints! 

By making her wait, you’re implying there’s magic to your jewelry, and if she wants to experience this magic, she must savor the anticipation. 

“You have excellent taste,” you’ll say as you clean. “This is one of my favorites. Tell me, what drew you to it?” 

If she were me, she’d say, “I love colored stones.”

Respond with a big smile and say, “So do I! They allow me to be highly creative in a way white diamonds can’t,” or whatever your reason for using colored stones. 

Now, hand her the ring. And get her talking. 

Point out a certain feature, such as how the ring is designed for each petal to twirl and ask what she thinks of it. When she responds, give your reasoning for adding the feature. 

Throw in the story of how your first time encountering a peacock was at The Royal Alcázar in Sevilla, Spain, and how your Andalusian adventure led to the creation of this spectacular spectacle. Ask, “Have you been to Spain?” 

(Fun fact: The Alcázar was The PR Adviser’s first time face-to-face with a peacock.)  

You’re now having a conversation. It no longer feels like selling, does it?  

By asking what she likes about the piece, she’s now selling the ring to herself. Your job is to reinforce her perceptions of what she finds most alluring about the ring by adding intimate details of your creative process. 

If she hands the ring back, ask, “Is there something missing from the ring keeping you from taking it home?”  

Never say, “keeping you from buying it!” This isn’t a transaction! It’s you attempting to fulfill her most glamourous desires.  

Most people will give some silly excuse to avoid a confrontation. Don’t allow it. Say immediately, “Please be honest! As a designer, I’m often left alone with just my ideas. I prefer making things people want. Your honest feedback will help me refine my designs.” 

Who doesn’t love to help? She’ll share her reason. If you have something else that fits what she wants, show her.  

If her reticence is because she’s not ready to buy, hand back the ring and insist she take a picture of it on her finger. She doesn’t want to forget how spectacular the ring looked on her now, does she?  

 Related stories will be right here … 
 
Now ask if you could take a picture for yourself. The ring just looks amazing on her! Then get her contact information.

I know. You have a sent messages folder full of tire kickers.

But I’m guessing your follow-up has been focused on getting payment instead of reinforcing how the potential customer felt in the presence of your piece.

Jilted, honey muffin, now and forevermore, I insist your follow up must go something like this: “Dear Smart Person with exquisite taste,” you’ll write, attaching the picture you took. 

“I’m doing a trunk show next week and this ring was specifically requested by the host. Whenever I look at this picture, though, it feels like the ring was meant for you. I’ve reserved it for as long as I can, but if you don’t want it, do you mind if I sell it to someone else?”

Your follow-up is a reminder of her desire. You want to fulfill her desire, but someone else has the same desire. One of them must act fast. 

You want it to be her, but you can’t deny the other person without payment. Out of respect, you’re seeking her permission to sell to someone else something that rightfully should be hers. 

If she’s serious, she’ll send you her credit card information.   

If not, add her to your newsletter and await further instructions in my upcoming column on creating newsletters when we return to meet our superhero Consideration in our continued tour of The Customer Journey.

I can’t stress enough eliminating the mindset that you’re selling; you’re not. You’re fulfilling desires evoked by interest in your creation. 

If you look at things this way, you’ll never sell a day in your life, but you will have hundreds of happy customers. 

Now, off to practice tap dancing alongside Richard Gere in the privacy of my living room as I rewatch Chicago for the 8,986th time! 

Our customer journey superhero Awareness has patiently been awaiting our return. We’ll reconvene with them in the next column, unless, of course, you have a pressing question that must be answered immediately! 

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