How do I start selling to jewelers?
Well there are a lot of ways to sell and introduce yourself to local jewelers. If you think you are ready… Here are some basic rules.
Dress correctly – This depends on your area, here in Tucson it usually means a nice pair of dress shorts, shirt and shoes. Arizona is very hot and casual, but a suit and tie maybe needed depending on where you live. Shaved and bathed sound obvious, but you would be surprised at what I have seen. Brush your teeth… No garlic and onions at lunch.
Target your jewelers (customers) – It is a good idea to take a look at their store and see if faceted stones are something that they even use. Do not try to sell to them at this time, unless it just happens to come up. If they do not sell faceted stones, do not be discouraged, maybe they do not have a supplier or are interested, but have just not started to carry them yet. I would still talk to them (after calling), just be aware that it may not be their thing and a good prospect for you.
Call first – It is usually a good idea to call the jewelers that you want to try to sell to, after deciding on your most likely prospects. Do not be pushy, just say that you are a local gemstone cutter (a lot of them will not know what a faceter is…) in their area and that you would like to show them some stones at their convenience. You want to make an appointment with them if possible, be prepared to arrange your schedule. You do not want to argue when is the best time. The best time is when they want to see you. By calling first you will not only be expected, but you will be able to talk to the person that actually makes the buying decisions. Also, you will not be just dropping in on them when they are busy and not too happy about being interrupted.
If you are going to cold call (not call first) – Keep a few things in mind. You are taking pot luck as far as catching the person that can actually buy. If you do catch them they maybe busy and not want to talk. Try to cold call at times during the day and week when the jeweler might have a break. Do not interrupt lunch, it is always a hard time in any retail shop. Late and early in the day is usually a busy time. I find that late in the day especially, people just want to go home. Early they are just getting to what they did not get done yesterday, or fixing problems, either way it is not a good time for a sales call. Usually middle morning, before lunch is best, the middle of the week is better too. Mondays, people are trying to catch up, Friday they are thinking about the weekend.
Be on time – Do not be late or early, if you have an appointment with them they have scheduled you (hopefully, not all jewelers are organized). Do not be in a hurry, jewelers are usually in retail stores, things often happen to change schedules in these situations. If they cancel ask politely when you can reschedule.
Be aware of the business cycle – By this I mean what time of year is it and what is business like in your area? For example, here in Tucson the summers are usually very slow, if not dead for local shops. It is 100 plus some degrees, most people are on vacation, the snowbirds (tourists) have left for home and business is just bad. People are not moving any more than they have to. The odds of selling them something are not high at this time. But it is often a time when the jeweler is not busy and interested in looking.
They will often say “I am not buying now…” trying to warn you that they do not want to waste your time. Your answer to that is… “that is all right, I just wanted to introduce myself and show you what I have.” Often they will say “call me in a month or in September” (that is when things pick up here). Ideally you want to meet them and say hello, but if they say “see me in a month”, ask when. What part of the month? Is it OK to just drop in? Should you call first? What is the best time of day for them?
Follow up and always keep appointments – If they say “see me in September”, put it in your calendar and do it. If you have to cancel an appointment, always talk to the person you had the appointment with and explain why, and try to reschedule. Do not leave a message with their help, often the messages do not get to the person they are for. If they wait for you and you do not show, you will likely not be able to sell them anything. Even if you left a message, it is unprovable usually.
Have a large selection – This is easier said than done, but the bottom line is the more you have to sell the more likely you are to sell something. I would not consider calling on jewelers without at least a tray of cut stones (20 to 30 or more). Remember you have made an appointment, if you just show them one or two stones you are wasting your time, and theirs too. Having a decent selection will take you out of the “hobby” class and into the business class.
This is actually fairly important if you want to be taken seriously. Have inexpensive stones as well as some that will water their eyes on the price. You seldom will sell an expensive one right off, but it does tend to send the message that you are not a amateur. There are some jewelers that know what they are looking at and and will buy an expensive stone right off, god bless them. Jewelers will often buy a small stone to see how things go, so inexpensive material is often a foot in the door.
Present your stones professionally – Do not use those cheap plastic containers for your stones, they really look bad, you are not selling commercial cutting at cheap prices. Your stones need to be presented in a professional manner. Use a good quality case, like a Bate’s case or some other quality presentation case. Make sure your stones are clean, finger prints can really dull your stones. Arrange them so they are easy to tell what they are, or at least tell apart. For example… do not put pink/red Tourmaline next to Rhodolite,
Know your stock – Know what a stone is when asked. How much it costs, clarity, cut, treatments (if any), any setting problems. Sounds easy right? Well you would be surprised. Be organized, nothing slows a sale down like saying… “uhhh, I do not know…”
Have the proper tools at hand – Have the tools you will need. A scale for weighing, tweezers, loupe, stone papers, a calculator, a sales receipts book.
I keep my stones in a presentation case, but usually have a stone paper with the weight, dimensions, price, and type marked on it for each stone in the case. That way when I sell it, I just put the stone in the paper and hand it to them. I also should say that I have my business name on the paper, so they know where they bought it. Have the proper tax exempt form for them to fill out, if needed in your area. This is important because you can be liable for the tax if you do not have the proper forms filled out and signed.
Have professional business cards – By this I mean, not those cheap ink jet cards, that are the do them at home type. Nothing says amateur louder than those. Good business cards now a days are not expensive ($25 to $75 at most) for simple quality cards, so there is no excuse.
Turn off anything that can interrupt you – Nothing irritates me more than being interrupted by a beeper or cell phone in the middle of a business deal. By answering the thing in the middle of the deal you are saying to the customer that whatever it is, is more important than selling them a stone. Bad message to send isn’t it? If you are in their retail store, remember that they do not always have the option to turn things off.
If they say “I can get it cheaper” – Politely point out to them the quality differences (the loupe comes in handy here), and why your stones are worth more money and that they, in fact cannot get them anywhere else, and certainly not cheaper. Do not beat a dead horse, if the jeweler is one of the “cheap is better types” (they are out there). Tell them thank you for their time and move on, you will not sell them anything. Do not waste your time.
Have some clear business policy – Do you leave things on memo? If so how do you arrange it? How do you want payment? What are your guarantee’s, if any? Do you custom cut? If so, have a clear pricing structure. Do you do repair work? How much do you charge?
Stay on your promised price and schedule – If you say I will have that done on Friday, then do it. No excuses, you are in business and want to be treated that way, have the courtesy to treat your customer the way you want to be treated.
If you quote a price, it is the price. If you screwed up, be a man (or woman, maybe I should say adult) and do not whine, honor your price. Point out to them what it costs, but that you quoted a price so you will honor it. The reason you point it out is so that they realize what went on and do not expect the same price next time.
Listen to what a jeweler is telling you – Pay attention, if they say I like cushions for example, make a note of it. This is a jeweler that you need to call on the next time you cut a nice cushion. If they say “I sell a lot of Amethyst…” ask them what type, Brazilian, Siberian, what shape and size? Try to find out what is hot in your area, or just what that jeweler is interested in and likes. If you know what they like you are half way there to selling them a stone.
Visit with them and ask questions – Make a little small talk, but also ask what type of stones and jewelry they like and produce. What are they planning or would like to produce? What type of stones do they wish they could find more of? For example, finding good matches, color, depth, proportion’s, (especially in larger quality stones) for sets is usually tough in commercial stones. I would be willing to bet that most jewelers will tell you they would like to find quality matching sets of stones for earrings… particularly not real expensive ones.
Never ever try to sell anything to a customer of theirs in their store – If you are in their store and some customer in their store says “that is beautiful how much is it?” refer them to the jeweler for a price. You selling something direct to one of their customers in their store is a huge NO NO. If you try you are liable to loose that jeweler for ever, with good reason, you have just proven you cannot be trusted. The jeweler is paying for that store’s overhead and the customers that a retail shop brings. It is their store and their customer. Besides it is not honest and just not done. Period.
Be honest – If you do not know what something will cost, then tell them so and do not quote it. Tell them you will need to check and get back to them. Then do it in a timely manner. If asked your opinion on something, tell the truth or keep your mouth shut. Say I do not know… You are better of telling the truth or keeping quit if you do not feel comfortable telling them what you think.
Do not give up – Doing sales is hard work and it often seems that you are not getting anywhere. A lot of times sales calls are not beneficial immediately, I often hear from a jeweler that I called on a year ago or even longer, down the road. People do remember and they will call you if they liked you and though they could do business… eventually.