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Lifting the veil: Selling to a guarded customer

By Brian Barfield

96096932-mainLast time, I shared with you the four basic customer types. Every client with whom you interact falls into one of these four categories. Understanding who these customer types are allows you to meet their needs and give them the ultimate jewellery-buying experience they desire. Once you are able to do this, a bond of trust is built that allows these clients to become the foundation of your most loyal customer base. This can eventually lead you to lasting success filled with greatness.

Today, I want to focus on selling the ‘guarded’ customer. These are the ones who enter your store with an invisible wall to protect themselves. There are a few possible reasons as to why this happens. Perhaps they’ve had a previous bad shopping experience elsewhere or maybe it’s just a simple lack of understanding jewellery. Whatever the reason, they have one thing in common: fear. It is fear that prevents them from opening up, and it is your task as a salesperson to neutralize it.

The first concept you must understand in selling a guarded customer is realizing they are in control. They decide whether to let you in or keep you out. In other words, how you treat them determines the outcome. One of the funniest things you will see on the sales floor is the pushy sales associate try to greet a guarded customer. They leave their desk full of confidence and are on a mission to get a sale. They charge full speed ahead and go in with a super strategy and ‘wham!’ They hit the invisible wall. “I am just looking,” says the customer. Stunned, the sales associate retreats, wondering what just happened. Once you realize there is a wall between you and your customer, you must find a way to be invited in. Without an invitation, success is nearly impossible. So remember a guarded customer is always in control.

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The next concept to learn in selling a guarded customer is to understand their value. Do you value them as your customer or are they just a sale? If you do not value your customer, they just became your prey. Have you ever watched the Discovery Channel? What happens when the predator closes in on its prey? They run, and if close enough, they may attack to secure their escape. Every once in a while, you will make a kill (i.e. sale), but that customer likely won’t return. That is why I encourage you to value your customer and ‘feed’ them with kindness and gentleness, rather than killing them with pushy sales tactics.

Extending honour and respect is the third and final concept I want to share with you. Every guarded customer you sell is like starting a new relationship. If they choose you, then a courtship begins as you go through the sales presentation. Just like in dating, your customer is looking to see if you are worth a lifelong commitment. If you treat them with honour and respect, you will find yourself ‘lifting the veil,’ or in other words, closing the sale.

What I have shared with you is a vision and a plan to successfully sell a guarded customer. Hopefully this article helps open your mind to find a greater understanding. Next time, I will discuss ways to sell the demanding customer. You will not want to miss it.

This article is based on the book, “Modern Day Selling: Unlocking your Hidden Potential,” by Brian Barfield. For more information, visit his website at or e-mail him at        

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