Kathleen Cutler, who calls herself “a modern sales expert for high-end brands,” has been slipping into our Instagram feeds a lot lately. She’s enthusiastically name-checked on the platform by jewelry retailers and brands that rave about how her methodology has boosted their sales with affluent younger shoppers.
Cutler, a former bench jeweler who holds a graduate diamond degree, has honed her proprietary methods, which combine technology with old-school relationship-building, working with seven-figure brands over the past decade.
With an unusual and (for many) critical holiday season in front of jewelry retailers, we asked Cutler to share her best advice for closing sales during the pandemic era.
JCK: Hi, Kathleen! Tell me generally how you work with clients.
Really my focus is on sales. We have a group, it’s called the High End Jewelers Society, where we use a methodology that we teach. It’s all about creating your virtual Rolodex—how to have your best clients at your fingertips. We talk about the 80/20 rule that says 80% of sales come from your top clients. It’s all about building out a system where they get preferred treatment.
I try to bring them through a visual exercise: If you had a physical store with no staff in it, you are allowed to walk through and self-serve and then make a $30K purchase on your own. Then you’re sent to a supermarket-style checkout to finish the transaction. That’s where…people have questions and carts get abandoned.
I think the salesperson is just as important in the e-commerce experience as it is in the store. When people are buying high-end, they’re really seeking a trusted expert. There’s a lot of nuance to buying important gemstones. If left to their own devices, people get nervous.
So it’s about not letting them shop alone. People think of being in the virtual space really just as marketing. What I like to say is, marketing is one-to-many—your billboards, social media. It’s getting people into doors. Sales are one-to-one.
I think people get stuck on one-to-many and they’re not looking at the one-on-one, which is actually sales. Every hour you spend in one-to-many marketing, spend an hour on one-to-one sales.
Take exquisite care of your existing clients. If your family has been in the business for a long time, you can ask yourself, what would your grandparents have done here? They would have picked up the phone, they would know who was having a baby, who was graduating, when birthdays were…. It is all about relationships; the jewelry is really meaningful to the person buying. The more we can back off the vanity metrics of 10K Instagram followers, the more we can focus on our top 50 and 100 clients.
It must be a relief for people when you tell them to back off social media and focus on relationships!
It’s a big relief for a lot of them. You have people who want this big following and be a big brand, but a lot of the smaller jewelers feel intimidated by that. It’s not “I need this many people to attend my Zoom meetings.” I’d rather have you on IG having this fantastic conversation back and forth with one person. A lot of jewelers are preselling pieces this way. And I think that’s where we’re headed in general.
Photo © Forevermark.