COMMENTS POLICY

Welcome to my Jewelry Industry blog. This is the place for all of our industry comrades to come forth with questions, with new ideas and plans for our future. All of your constructive comments are welcome.
I reserve the right however, to edit, or delete any comment post that I find objectionable, spam-like or just inappropriate.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hangout with the Designer: Jacey Nierman, Casuso Designs, a 30 minute recorded webinar

Retailers: 
Are any of your customers Cowboys? 
Did you ever know that beautiful, natural, 
organic jewelry can be carved 
from the horn of a cow? 
Watch this video and see!
Want to sell Casuso Designs in your store? 
Contact me for more information or go to Casuso Designs 


Is there a designer 
you want to meet...
Send them our way!

Designers: 
Here is another example of how a jewelry designer can speak directly to the retail stores sales staff about their inspirations. 
Better business, better sales!


                                         Click the link below to watch



Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hangout with the Designer: Zina Sterling Silver, a 30 minute recorded webinar



Making Better Sales 
(using V-By Technology along the way)

Retailers
Are you carrying Zina Sterling Silver in your store? 

Or, are you interested in finding 
a quality, dependable, hip 
sterling silver line to sell in your store?

Have your sales staff meet Zina
and learn more about her in this recorded webinar.



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Designers

Wish you could 
meet the retail sales staff that sells your jewelry? 

Or, want to find new stores to carry your jewelry?


Matt and I would be happy 
to set up a webinar for you to 
speak directly 
to your extended sales team! 

Contact us today at:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What do Texas, Oregon & Barbados have in common?

It's days like yesterday that make my work both exhausting and exhilarating! 
While sitting in my office, I had three separate appointments to show & sell jewelry for holiday orders. And, one of these appointments was with a woman I'd never met or done business with before. 
At first glance you might think that this fact was quite normal, after all I do sell jewelry. But this feat would never have been possible 10 years ago.
Each appointment was conducted live, over the computer in three different locations; Portland, Waco & the West Indies!  Tell me, is that something you could do?



Since I created V-By technology I've been waiting for the jewelry business to show no fear and go for it. Today it looks more possible than ever! Our industry seems to be finally accepting the assistance of the computer to make safer, more cost & time effective choices. Hip Hip Hurrah! 
It was using smart technology (V-By) that allowed me to meet, schmooze, show new collections and model the jewelry from the security of my own home office. I was even able to attend my daughter's high school open house after!
I realize I've been writing and speaking about how to conduct better, smarter business for a long time. Thank you for finally listening and trying it out.
Contact me and I'll show you how to do it as well. :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Designers, have you considered using webinars to brand your collections?


Designers:
Click link below to read the entire blog post:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Retailers, have you considered using webinars to brand your designers?



Retailers:
Click link below to view entire blog post:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Selling jewelry on the road as a rep by myself!

OK, one of my long standing customers called and asked me to come show her new merchandise face to face instead of over V-By technology. Recognizing that she had (thankfully) purchased jewelry from me using V-By for three years, I decided once again to hit the road by myself and offer a face to face, hands on jewelry sales experience. 



And, after having traveled with the rep on the east coast without much success, I wanted the chance to see what I could do by myself. Was the road really that different? And there started plans for my trip to New Mexico. 

I was a bit worried about carrying two bags and began by consolidating my merchandise into only one. My concern was having both hands compromised while pulling the bags in and out of the trunk and the stores. New Mexico is known for a fair amount of security issues with gangs kidnapping reps and stealing their lines (I know a guy that was thrown into a van with his line by four guys in ski masks. He was only carrying shanks of pearls!) and it felt safer to have one hand free for emergencies, should they arise. Looking back on the trip, one bag might have been heavy, but was a wise call from both a physical standpoint as well as piece of mind.

Knowing that it only works to make calls one week in advance, I started by making my plane reservations and tentative hotel schedule. Then one week before take off, the "smiling& dialing" (making phone calls) began. The A call list consisted of the customers I used to visit and then those unknown JBT, decently rated stores I felt could pay their bill if they decided to purchase. Because I do have decent phone skills, their reception was warm, but not too promising. And, after speaking directly to 15-20 store buyers in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe, I was able to confirm only 2 appointments with stores I had sold in the past. 

Before freaking out, I had to take a deep breath and remind myself that this was how it always went. So I wasn't too worried...after all I had done this for 20+ years. I knew that things would start cooking once I hit the ground.

When scheduling appointments I try to fill from the beginning of the week. I find that it builds a momentum for the rest of the week. So my 2 scheduled appointments were Monday and Tuesday mornings. After each appointment I asked to leave the line (which makes the stores feel like you're not selling every where in town.) That gave me a breather from the line as well as making room to walk around and check out the changes in the town, its current foot traffic and other possible stores to sell.

I want to mention that I have always been careful not to over sell a city just for the initial business. Repping is all about the relationships you build with your clients. My initial conversation over the phone always includes a comment like "I'm looking for a home for this line." or "I'm about long term relationships, not one time sales." If you over sell a market, your reputation can get tarnished and cause your relationships to eventually shrink and disappear.
After first being discouraged about doing much business at all, I was able to place non competing merchandise in five different stores (2 standing customers and three new ones) with the possibility of a new sixth for holiday! 
This trip was successful for several reasons. (First and foremost I had no security issues, phew!) I also went into it with a positive attitude, good product, a logical strategy and used good phone skills in advance. Even though Willy Loman is dead...a good old fashioned road trip can still be alive!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Interested in being a traveling Independent Road Rep?

I used to be a traveling road rep selling merchandise door to door through out the 11 western states for many years. Three years ago, due to cost and danger, I transferred my business from the road onto my computer screen.

Last week I was given the opportunity to revisit that “road” experience. I went for a 3 day ride alongside one of the few veteran road reps still turning the key in his ignition to make a buck. He picked me up in his work car and was ready to visit 15-20 stores in a 3 hour driving radius.

His back seat was stocked with everything you would need to stay alive for 5 days after the apocalypse (let alone a sales road trip!): Bottled water, an ice chest filled with snacks, well ironed shirts, sales brochures and small plastic  bottles of red wine for day's end at the local Comfort Inn.

It only took a minute for me to fall back in the mindset needed when carrying valuable merchandise. Remember to watch behind you at all times! We both know several road warriors who’d been held up, stabbed, tied and shot doing just what we planned to do; Drive door to door showing & selling merchandise to retail stores.

The first thing I noticed was that some technology had changed. He wasn't using a paper map but instead OnStar technology. Every time he wanted to drive to a store he’d phone a live service who would feed directions to his car’s GPS system. That service costs him $365/year.  I suppose if you didn't have a set route of stores to visit regularly, this system would be of use. But, once familiar with the territory, it may not be necessary… and would cut one of the many costs he incurs.

Most everything else about his traveling business was the same as mine had been for more than 20 years. He had his obsolete red book (with store names and old credit ratings), his telephone & his company’s lists of current and past customers to call.

The biggest problem I found with this particular rep’s MO is that he wouldn't use the phone to call before dropping in on a potential client. More often than not, the drop-ins we did created zero sales…And I'm not sure they were great relationship builders either.

Personally, I have always felt that walking in unannounced is both ineffective and a bit rude (not to mention a waste of my time & money!) When I was on the road I found that owners/buyers liked that I called first. That way I wasn't saying “Stop what you’re doing because I've arrived.” When I questioned his “drop in” methods, he said “I don’t call ahead because they always say they won’t see me.” There it is, the reason he won’t get on the phone first is because he was never taught successful phone etiquette!

Again, in my opinion, it is no longer possible for a road rep to drive and stop without making money. When I was out on the road, my sales had to make me a living! Every drop of gas I burned, every dollar I spent on hotel and food had to more than cover my sales. As an independent sales rep, I no longer had the luxury of driving around and visiting stores who didn't buy from me. 

My customers did look forward to my calls. Partly because they made money with my merchandise and partly because they liked me. Both important elements to the repping life. And, it wasn't just one phone call that made the difference. Over time, I trained my stores/customers to expect  my call and make an appointment (most of the time any way), review the merchandise and then write an order. It took time to develop this understanding, but that was my job!

While riding shotgun with my traveling rep, I began to make those very calls and did find some buyers receptive. He even commented on my phone skills. It took several years to make those calls effective! I told him that every call I make had a strategy connected to it. I had a plan of action (POA) each time I picked up the phone. I call it "smiling & dialing." (To learn more about cold calls refer to my earlier post at:  http://www.jewelersfastforward.com/2013/08/do-i-still-have-to-make-cold-calls.html  ) In my opinion, it does make a difference!

Over those three days, there were a couple of important lessons learned. 1) Planning in advance can be the difference between wasting gas and making money. 2) Sometimes you do need to show the merchandise on more than one occasion to build the relationship and make the sale. 


I can't wait to hear how his follow up trip goes!