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Shane Decker

The Critical Mistake Way Too Many Jewelers Make In Educating Salespeople

The answer is to create your own store “university” for employees, says Shane Decker.

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BENJAMIN FRANKLIN once said, “Genius without education is like silver in the mine.” He could just as easily have been referring to dollars in customers’ pocketbooks that never make it into the cash register of your store. When you don’t train your salespeople, you will never see their promise come to fruition.

Develop incentives and penalties that they will incur based on their learning performance. Jewelers tell me all the time that they can’t find good people. Well, if you don’t train them up, they’ll never be any good! Too many owners treat training as an afterthought … something to be done here and there, when you find the time. I’m telling you, the time is now, and it’s not an option if you want to thrive.

Consider the following truths of retailing:

  • 1. You will only make as much money as your people allow you to make.
  • 2. Your store is only as good as your weakest link.
  • 3. You will only be as good as you train. The less you train, the worse your team looks to your customers.

These things are true no matter what you sell — but you’re in the jewelry business, and our industry is changing faster than most. And, there’s a lot to learn: Product knowledge, store procedures, gemological education, salesmanship, and even a particular store’s culture and psychology. All told, it’s a three-year learning curve for rookies (and even longer for larger stores).

Are you convinced yet to make training a top priority? If not, here’s one last thing to think about: Every day, you entrust your employees with your inventory, your money, your customers, the name on your door, and your integrity. That’s right, your personal integrity is reflected in how well you hire and train!

So what’s the best way to educate your people?

First, you’ve got to make your people accountable to learning. Develop incentives and penalties that they will incur based on their learning performance.

Encourage them to listen to gemological training tapes on the way to and from work, rather than rock and roll. Have them read the trades, especially INSTORE. Let them know you’re serious about it by enforcing consequences.

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Second, create your own store university. Make it a two- to three-week course that covers the following:

  • Product knowledge: Work with your vendors to list the 25 most important points of each brand you carry. Start a file on each brand that your salespeople can train on, and test them. Measure their learning about each timepiece you sell.
  • Store procedures: How are repairs taken in, how should inventory be handled, how should customers be greeted, etc.
  • Gemological training: The Diamond Council of America has an excellent gemological course for salespeople.
  • Salesmanship: This will be an extremely thick file. They should learn how to turn over a sale, the anatomy of a sale, opening and closing, etc. (all covered in my DVD series — sorry, couldn’t resist the plug).
  • For most owners, it takes 18 to 24 months to properly develop the course materials for a store university. But the results are well worth the time and effort.

    Get your university up and running, and make your sales team accountable to learning. Once your trainee has graduated your university, have them shadow your top three salespeople for the next three days. Then and only then should you put them on the sales floor to represent your good name to your customers.

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    After all, would you take your car to an untrained mechanic? Fly in an airplane with an untrained pilot? So, why would you ask your customers to trust anyone less than a pro with their jewelry purchase?

    Get your university up and running, and make your sales team accountable to learning. You may be surprised at just how much silver is in your mine.

    This story is from the March 2008 edition of INSTORE.

    Shane Decker has provided sales training to more than 3,000 jewelry stores. Shane cut his teeth in jewelry sales in Garden City, KS, and sold over 100 1-carat diamonds four years in a row. Contact him at sdecker@ex-sell-ence.com.

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    Shane Decker

    The Difference Between Closes and Statements, 7 Lead-In Lines and More Sales Advice

    Here’s how to make closing sales easier, says Shane Decker.

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    HAVE YOU EVER made something that should have been easy difficult? Maybe you overthought it, or you were afraid to try. Or you were worried what someone else would think.

    Salespeople tell me all the time, “I tried that and it didn’t work.” But my observation is that people often try something once, fail at it, and then give up. They’ve proven to themselves that something new does not work.

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    You have to want to make the effort and put in the time and practice to build new habits, especially when it comes to what I call “needle movers.”

    Needle movers are actions that put money in the cash register immediately. The three big needle movers are closing, adding on and wowing clients. These should be easy, but we make them hard because of fear, lack of experience, or lack of selling skills.

    It’s time to get over that fear of change. Have your team write 10 new closes, and make sure they’re not statements. For example:

    Statement: “That is a beautiful diamond.”

    Close: “She’s going to love wearing that beautiful diamond, and you’re gonna be glad you gave it to her.”

    Then have them write 10 lead-in lines for add-on sales. Do not say, “Can I,” “May I” or “Would you like?” Clients can say no to all of these. Examples of lead-in lines to create add-on sales are:

    “We have what matches.”

    “This is part of a set.”

    “She won’t wear this without the matching.”

    “Tell me something else she’s always wanted but you haven’t purchased yet.”

    Then, have your sales team write 10 lead-in lines to create a sale from scratch. This is what you say to a client when they’re waiting for a battery or repair. Examples include:

    “Guess what’s in the vault?”

    “Gotta show you my favorite.”

    “Guess what just came in.”

    These must be said with passion and enthusiasm. They allow you to wow the client and change their experience while they wait. Remember: You have to do something to make something happen. Clients buy on impulse all the time.

    Practice with your team and make these phrases come naturally. Start all of these presentations with a lead-in line, and the rest will happen by itself. Clients do not get mad when you show them something gorgeous.

    But you have to hold yourself accountable, and there has to be consistency. For some reason, it’s easier to fall back on old bad habits than keep good ones. Winging it doesn’t work. Practice with each other over and over until the simple truly is simple.

    Creating is better than waiting. Get comfortable with your sales skills. Be the sales associate your client wants you to be.

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    Shane Decker

    You’re Killing Your Own Jewelry Sales By Talking About the Price

    Romance the item and the reason they came in, and you’ll close more sales.

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    DURING THE HOLIDAYS, we get into bad sales habits because the sales are so easy and customers are buying price-point items. We sell faster, we sell price and sometimes we don’t even really sell the item. Now that we’re into the new year, it’s time to get back into good selling habits.

    The diamond season is about to start. Typically, it runs from April 16 through the end of September (although we sell diamonds all year, which we should). What can keep you from selling as many diamonds as you could? The price.

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    Too many salespeople are afraid of the price, no matter which item they’re selling, which causes problems with closing the sale, among other things. When you try to justify the price or the client feels you are apologizing for the price, they start to believe that you think they can’t afford the item. They will feel pre-judged and leave.

    Clients are coming in for you to spend their money for them; they’re paying you as a professional to do this. You do not need to decide how much they can spend. Let the client decide that (unless you’re wowing them with a $10,000 diamond while they’re waiting for a battery).

    Instead of price, concentrate on selling with romance and knowledge. These two things build confidence in your product. Quality, technical information, craftsmanship, design, difficulty, brand, rarity, size, color, clarity, cut, and other factors all contribute to the value of the product.

    That said, you have to understand when technical selling is appropriate, and how much to do. Some clients are not interested in this at all, so do not volunteer technical information if it’s not needed. You don’t need to impress the client, but if they have concerns or questions about technical aspects of the product, it’s up to you to answer any and all questions with authority.

    Remember: The more money the item costs, the easier it is to close because the customer can afford it. The less the item costs, usually the harder it is to close. Money is just a tool the client uses to obtain what he or she wants. Always start high and go down — you limit yourself when you start low and try to work up.

    Begin the sale with questions that encourage the client to tell you their story and why they’re in your store. And make it about the importance of the item. When you make it about them and the item and you learn to romance the reason they’re here, the price will become insignificant and the client will upsell themselves.

    Don’t talk about yourself, and certainly don’t make the sale about price. They’ll forget how much they spend, but they’ll always remember the event and the item.

    Millennials are changing the size of the starter set diamond — diamonds from 1.5-carats to 2 carats are selling like crazy all over the country. All of you should be selling big diamonds. Make 2020 the year of big diamond sales and high closing ratios in your store.

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    Shane Decker

    No Time to Train Your Team? Au Contraire. Here’s How You Do It

    Take full advantage of every minute to make your sales team better.

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    THEY SAY THAT in all work environments, employees waste about one-third of their time each day. Any time wasted is too much, and that is the one thing you can never get back.

    You’re investing in your employees’ time already; why not make the most of it?

    One of the reasons so many stores are struggling is that their staffs are not properly trained. The only way your employees will be successful in your store is for you and your managers to communicate not just in sales meetings, but also through one-on-one training. This allows you to teach them in their particular areas of weaknesses.

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    You say you never have time?

    In the mornings when you are setting up, have a 15-30 minute meeting on salesmanship, product or gemological knowledge, or closing techniques. Most of your team is present at this time of day. And yet, in too many stores, I hear team members discussing where they had pizza or what movie they saw last night. What a wasted opportunity!

    Throughout the workday, discuss sales that are made and what the sales associate did to close or add on. Talk about what they did to wow each client. And when a customer leaves without buying, talk about what you as a sales team could have done to close the sale or improve the client’s experience.

    Too often, we miss awesome coaching opportunities because we wait too long to train on what happened, or we don’t address it at all.

    Learning opportunities need to be discussed at the first available moment (after the client leaves, of course).

    And be sure to talk about what went right, not just what went wrong. When you discuss success, it empowers your team and motivates them to do what is right again. Most people on your team are natural pleasers, and they love it when you are happy with their work performance. If they know they pleased you, they’ll try harder to please you again.

    The learning curve in our industry is three years. You will only get out of your associates what you put into them. It takes time, study, dedication, determination, setting proper goals for each person, and training on each person’s level and skill set.

    Jewelers tell me all the time that they need bodies. The problem with that statement is, we’re leaving client bodies all over the floor.

    Start the new year with a New Year’s resolution: to train every day and every week. Use time wisely. Have a better-trained team at the end of 2020 than you started the year with.

    Take advantage of every moment of success to talk about what happened. It will make your team feel more loyal to you and they’ll try harder. People are more motivated by recognition than money. Let them know how important they are to you. Empower your people, give them skills to succeed, and always let them know you couldn’t do it without them.

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