Can too much knowledge hurt your sales?

Product knowledge is one of the most important assets a salesperson can have. It is vital to know as much about the products you are selling as possible. That does not mean that a salesperson needs to demonstrate their knowledge at every sale. Knowing when to offer information and how much to give is a skill that needs to be developed.

When I became a Graduate Gemologist I expected my personal sales would soar. I knew everything about my products and I even had diplomas on the wall to prove it. Instead, they dropped by over 30%. It didn’t make sense. It took a lot of money and effort to educate myself so I could  be better at my job, but I was getting worse.

My problem became clear to me as I helped a woman choose a pair of earrings. She asked about the difference between two pairs, one was Ruby, the other was Garnet. I explained that Garnet and Ruby were two completely different stones and launched into a discussion of crystal structures, double vs. single refraction, inclusions, and on and on and on until her eyes glazed over with boredom. She finally interrupted me and said “I am sure this must be interesting to someone, but the only thing I care about is if they match the dress I am wearing this weekend and all I want to know is the difference in price.”


In my eagerness to show off how much I know, I forgot that my real job is to listen to the customer and help fulfil her needs. After that I left my knowledge in the back room and focused on making my customers happy. My sales quickly recovered.

Modern customers no longer seek out a jeweller strictly for knowledge. Information about diamonds, gemstones and precious metals is easy to find online. There is a good chance that your customer already knows as much as you, or maybe more. The customer comes to a store for things they cannot get online. They want the tactile sensation of holding the jewellery, seeing the light exploding off the facets. They don’t want a salesman or lecturer. They want a friend, a guide; someone to approve and encourage their decisions.

It is all about the experience. Today’s customer is more interested in feeling than thinking. Ask questions that lead an emotional response to the jewellery. Where will they wear it and how will it make them feel to show it off? If it is an engagement ring, what are his plans for his proposal? Get them to picture the jewellery as a part of their life.

Good product knowledge is still essential. If the customer asks a question you need to have the answer and it better be correct…they will check and verify. Unless they bring it up, leave the 4Cs and the rest of the facts alone. Instead, give them the one thing they will never find online…. you!

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