Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Fake it ‘til You Make it?

<Wondering where I’ve been?  Much of my writing-time has been directed toward editorial contributions to Canadian Jeweller Magazine.  I’ll continue to send articles as they don’t conflict with that effort.  Enjoy a new game like “Where’s Waldo?” – see if you can find my articles buried in the back of Canadian Jeweller Magazine (not in every issue.) >

My good friend Quentin was talking about his experience in retail.  He began working at The House of Knives a few years back and when he started, he felt the all-too-familiar temptation to “fake it ‘til you make it.”  After getting caught giving misinformation by knowledgeable shoppers, he was embarrassed and he recognized the need to get ahead of the game.  He committed himself to learning about the different metals used in knife-blades.  He built his own collection of kitchen and pocket-knives, so that he could personally attest to the advantages of one product or another.  He now feels a sense of confidence that he can approach clients and almost never get “stumped” by a product knowledge question.  He approaches new and repeat clients with genuine conviction that they are going to get the best possible advice when selecting product, and his sales are impressive. 

Has a client ever asked you a question you didn’t know the answer to?  When that happens there are a few ways to handle it:

Bad Choices:
·      Invent:  Fabricate an answer that you think will help make the sale
·      Interpolate:  You can make something up that sounds like it might be correct, based loosely on your knowledge of jewellery
·      Impart:  You can give them an answer that you’ve heard someone else give, even though you’ve never actually verified the accuracy of that answer
 Better Choices:
·      Ignorance: you can admit your ignorance, and ask if the answer affects their desire to purchase the item in question.  If not, sell-away!
·      Interrupt:  You can ask the client to wait while you look-up the answer or attempt to get it from the manager or another staff member

Here’s the thing.  There’s no replacement for a wealth of product knowledge.  I’ve written before about how important it is not to overwhelm customers with unwanted facts, but when they ask and you don’t have the answers, you stand a chance of losing the sale.

Call to action – “Stump-Log:” When a customer stumps any one in your store with a question, deal with it the best way you can.  Once finished with the client, log the question at the top of the page of a notebook.  Make sure you go-back when you have time, research and write-down the best answer you can find and then share it with your teammates at the next staff meeting.  Add comments to the answer as the team collaborates on the best possible responses, and as the manager gives direction.  This notebook will become great reading and a valuable resource for new hires.  Managers, when there are few or no new entries in the stump-log, write-down an every-day question and task a staff member with writing their best answer.  Something like, “I saw an ‘SI’ clarity diamond at another store, but it didn’t look clear to me.  Why’s that?”, or “are dark Sapphires the best quality?”

Knowledge leads to confidence.  Confidence leads to effective selling.

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