Diamond Sales Education 4Cs – Color, Clarity, Cut & Carat

Are The 4Cs Working Against Your Diamond Sales?

4Cs-engagement-ringsThe holiday season is fast approaching and current political and economic conditions are still far from “sparkling.” This means each sales person needs to be thinking about how they can hone their skills to capture every potential sale, to transform “lookers” into “buyers.”

This can be done in a variety of ways that are often addressed by sales and marketing experts, but many are missing an obvious flaw that I find disturbing not only for sales people but also for their customers. I’m referring to how sales people often kill the sale by using pejorative terminology when talking about the 4Cs, without even realizing it!

Having an understanding of the 4Cs — and making sure your customers understand them – is very important, but a superficial understanding leading to prejudicial comments will definitely have a negative impact on sales success. Let’s take a look at what I mean.

The 4Cs deal with the overall quality of specific stones, and the impact that each “C” has with regard to beauty, rarity and cost. But diamonds are each unique, and some appeal to one buyer more than to another, depending on the taste and aesthetic needs of the buyer. One person may like round shapes the best, while another prefers a square emerald cut; one person won’t be comfortable wearing a diamond under three carats, while another won’t be comfortable with anything over one carat; a “D” color diamond might seem “cold” to one person whereas the same person may find J-K color more desirable because it’s a “warmer” color; and so on. The successful sales person will help a customer discover what’s of most importance to them, and they’ll do it without bias. They’ll do it by discussing the differences in the diamonds a customer is looking at in the context of “rarity,” and will help the customer find just the right combination of the 4Cs to best meet their own needs, emotionally and financially. Let’s look at what this means in terms of the sales scenario.

Explaining differences should, first and foremost, be in the context of “more rare” and “less rare,” not “better than” or “worse than.” More or less rare is stating a fact; “better than”/”worse than” or “lower quality”/”higher quality” are judgmental. Take a situation where a young man is looking at diamonds for an engagement ring. He finds a stone he really likes, but notices it’s the same price as a smaller stone and he questions why. The stone he likes is an SI1, and the smaller stone is a VS1. The sales person immediately points out that the larger stone is a “lower quality” or “not as good as” the smaller stone, that the smaller stone has a much “better” clarity grade. The customer can’t really see any difference; he’s not sure why he keeps going back to the larger stone, which really appeals to him, and the sales person hasn’t really helped. He thanks the sales person, and leaves the store without buying either one.

So why did the customer leave without buying the stone he really liked? The reason is simple: he was embarrassed because he liked the “less good” diamond, the one of “lower quality” and didn’t want to buy a stone the salesperson clearly thought was “inferior.”

Some of you may now be saying to yourselves that the sales person in the above scenario was right, that the larger stone was, in fact, a lower quality and there was nothing wrong with what was said. But this is not the case, and the sales person was, in fact, wrong; the larger stone and the smaller stone in the above scenario are the same quality!

Let’s analyze the above scenario more closely. The larger stone and the smaller stone are the same price; this is because the carat weight of the larger stone is rarer than the carat weight of the smaller stone, while the clarity of the smaller stone is rarer than the clarity in the larger stone. The “composite” quality of the two stones—the quality after assessing each one of the 4Cs—is the same because the rarer carat weight balances the clarity difference. So the “quality” – the resulting combination of the total package — was comparable. In this case, the young man was able to see the difference since the “C” that made the difference was “carat” weight = size difference. Thus, since the quality was comparable, the price was the same!

Now if the stones were the same carat weight, then the stone with the rarer clarity grade would have an overall quality that would be “rarer” than the stone with the less rare clarity grade, and the stone with the rarer clarity grade would cost more than the one with the “less rare” clarity grade. And so on.

I’ve seen similar scenarios in which two diamonds have the same approximate weight, clarity, precision cutting but differ only in the color grade. Given the way a diamond’s color is graded (on its side, in diffused light, against a flat white background), it is often difficult, if not impossible, to see any difference when the stone is mounted. As a result, customers may ask why one is cheaper than another when they look the same, especially if the customer’s budget precludes the more expensive stone. A good sales person will point out the difference — that the more affordable stone has a color grade that is less rare – and then quickly point out how wonderful it is that now that it’s in the setting, it’s impossible to see the difference between the two stones! This is positive, un-biased, and enables the customer to feel great about the purchase. How different this approach is from saying “it’s a lower color” or “the color is not as good,” putting a negative spin on it and making the buyer feel he would be making a “less good” choice to go with the less expensive combination of factors.

So this holiday season, let’s get rid of pejorative terms such as “good”/”bad” or “better than”/”lower than”/”worse than” … let’s use professional terms pertaining to degrees of rarity to answer buyers’ questions. Let’s explain that a stone’s clarity, or color, or carat weight, or precision cutting are more or less rare. Let’s help customers understand that the fun in shopping for a diamond is in discovering the one with just the right combination of those 4Cs to best meet their needs. By so doing, the ultimate decision as to what is important will be left entirely with the buyer, where it belongs!

Refer: JBA

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