Squirrel Spotting: Who Needs Jewelry?

IndependentsOct 22, 2018

Squirrel Spotting: Who Needs Jewelry?

No one really but, luckily for us, people shop with their hearts, not their heads, Peter Smith writes.

Peter Smith has more than 30 years of experience building wholesale and retail sales teams. He currently is president of Vibhor Gems.

Buying jewelry makes absolutely no sense on a rational level. Even if customers had better transparency about why things cost what they cost, the idea that they pay thousands of dollars for jewelry just boggles the mind. Or does it?

Why do people buy jewelry? For that matter, why do they buy timepieces or quality writing instruments? Is it to signal that they are “in a relationship?” To “tell time?” To “write their grocery list?” Of course not.

We buy jewelry because the act of shopping itself ignites a neurological reward system in our brains that makes us feel good. Really good. Chocolate good.

Those neurological pathways have nothing to do with facts, figures or rationality, but don’t ever construe lack of rationality with a lack of need. The need is real. It is emotive, and it is often subconscious.

In “The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google,” Scott Galloway wrote: “The heart is a vast market. Why? Because most of our actions, including purchases, are driven by emotion. It’s easier, and more fun, than to turn to the killjoy brain for a predictable cost-benefit analysis, where the answer to ‘Should I buy this?’ is usually ‘No.’”

When a customer walks into your jewelry store, they have a need.

It might not be a readily identifiable occasion, such as a marriage, birthday or anniversary, but it is no less a need. In fact, I might suggest that a “no occasion” visit is filled with just as much possibility as one of the aforementioned milestones.

“Overloading customers on meaningless information is not a recipe for sales success. In fact, it’s probably the single biggest detriment to engaging customers.” — Peter Smith
When we anticipate rewards—owning and wearing something beautiful, something that our friends and family will notice, something that will set us apart—we get a dopamine rush in our brains that supersedes any menu of details and product information offered by many salespeople

If you have ever found yourself wondering how a specific salesperson is so successful despite not being a product expert, the answer lies in that rush of dopamine.

Those salespeople are successful because they consistently tap into the emotional reasons that people make buying decisions. They don’t waste time tripping over meaningless product details and rationalizations.

That does not mean that a salesperson should not have a functional knowledge of the products they are selling, but it does mean
that overloading customers on meaningless information is not a recipe for sales success. In fact, it’s probably the single biggest detriment to engaging customers.

I used to work with a guy who liked to challenge the idea of making assumptions. He would frequently admonish that to “assume” is to make an ass of you and me. Get it … ass-u-me.

With respect, here’s my take: Always assume that a customer will buy when he or she visits your store. No exceptions.

Believing that customers visit your store to kick tires is unforgivable. The customer might not be able to immediately articulate why she or he is there but make no mistake, there is a very powerful reason.

It’s our job to make that emotional connection and to inspire them to reward themselves with a beautiful piece of jewelry.

Peter Smith is president of Vibhor, a public speaker and author of “Sell Something” and “Hiring Squirrels.” He spent 30 years building sales teams in retail and wholesale and he can be contacted at,, or on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.
Peter Smithis president of Memoire and Hearts On Fire, and author of three books, “Hiring Squirrels,” “Sell Something,” and “The Sales Minute.”

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