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Shane Decker

Four Sales Tips to Make It Your Best Christmas Yet

To deliver an unforgettable holiday experience, you have to be on top of your sales game.

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There are four areas you’ll need to focus on this holiday season to be successful: store floor awareness, add-on sales, “wowing” clients, and shopping environment.

1) Store floor awareness: Based on closing ratios I’ve tracked over the years, your team’s closing ratio can go up 70-80 percent during the holidays. No client is “just looking”; they’re looking to buy. Clerk sales and impulse buys skyrocket. If you haven’t increased your sales staff or prepared for the rush, you will lose sales.

We all know that some clients will walk out if they’re not waited on immediately. Some come in only during the holidays, and if they don’t feel we meet their expectations, they will become clients of our competitors.

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Store floor awareness deals with everything that is happening on your floor. Is the “sweet spot” covered and is everyone greeted within five seconds? If everyone is helping someone, clients need to be greeted by someone who isn’t about to close the sale.

Don’t let busy work get in the way of helping a customer — nor apathy or fear. When clients say they’re “just looking,” too many salespeople reply, “OK, look around and if you find something you want, let us know.” That’s a sale killer. If you’re not present, they’ll walk and give another salesperson in another store your money.

During the holidays, your sales teammates’ needs become very important. Don’t leave anyone stranded. They may need help closing or team-selling (an assist can raise the closing ratio by 50 percent). Never be too busy to help.

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2) Add-on sales: During this time of year, the average Christmas buyer buys 15-20 gifts. The average jewelry salesperson sells them only one. Then the client goes to several other stores and buys the remaining 14-19 gifts. When a client has chosen the item they’re looking for, instead of walking to the cash register, use a lead-in line and say, “How many others are on your list?” He may say, “I have a 12 year-old daughter.” Then you reply, “You know, her first set of diamond studs should come from her dad. We have great studs for your young lady right over here.”

“Wow” your clients: Get a high-ticket item in each client’s hand before they leave. You can change it based on the client, your inventory, “wowing” smart and visual observation. Most clients have never had the opportunity to have an awesome item in their hand before they walk out.

Sometimes they buy it. Remember: it’s Christmastime, the time for giving. Not to mention, this will separate you from your competition.

4) Shopping environment: Make sure the store looks, smells and feels like Christmas. Offer coffee, cinnamon rolls, cookies, mulled cider, whatever a client may want. The longer they stay, the higher the closing ratio. Remember that the experience is even more important than the product they will purchase.

Lastly, show every client respect, patience and a great attitude. Tell them you were so glad to see them and wish them a merry Christmas with a smile. Small and large sales are all important. Gather information so that you can follow up, and remember not to mail thank-you cards until Jan. 15; you don’t want to blow the surprise!

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.

Shane Decker

For Successful Retailers, Failure is Not an Option, Says Shane Decker

Sales trainer says too many owners give up too quickly.

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A WORD THAT IS NOT in my vocabulary and should not be in yours is “failure.” Failure can almost always be avoided and is almost always human-designed.

Failure generally happens because of lack of planning. Owners and managers say, “I’ll try it!” and they try it one time, then they say it didn’t work. That’s because most don’t want to put in the effort to truly change. They stay with their old bad habits instead of formulating new habits.

If you don’t like change, you’re going to hate extinction.

So don’t try it — do it. And keep doing it right until you get it done correctly and successfully. Here is a list of things that will set you up for failure if you don’t change your ways.

1. Not closing. Outside of bridal clients, 80 percent of people buy the day they shop. People don’t have time to shop tomorrow if they’re shopping today. 60-70 percent of shoppers who say they’ll be back buy within two hours of leaving your location.
2. Not handling objections or knowing how to team sell, add on, wow, sell company benefits or use value-added statements. Many salespeople don’t know the anatomy of a clerk sale or a created one. They also don’t understand how to convert repair clients into sales.
3. GIA is the Harvard of our industry, but most salespeople don’t take Diamonds 1 and 2. A lot of young customers know more than the salespeople do.
4. Lack of store floor awareness.
5. Negotiating to close the sale and thereby losing profits. Salespeople use negotiating price as a cop-out because they either don’t know any better or are too lazy to do better.
6. Keeping your inventory too long. After two years, it’s dead money.
7. Bad marketing.
8. Not setting sales and business goals.
9. Not marking merchandise up enough, especially diamonds.
10. Not having enough events to increase traffic.
11. Not tracking your sales closing ratio to measure how your team is doing.
12. Not having enough high-end inventory and large diamonds. More and more clients are buying higher-dollar items, but you have to have it before they can.
13. Selling from a poverty-level mentality (selling out of your own pocket).
14. Bad location.
15. Crappy websites designed by Fred Flintstone.
16. Not remodeling old stores.
17. Being closed on Mondays. It’s becoming a big shopping day again.
18. Proper signage not visible. Clients walk into stores all the time and say, “I didn’t know there was a jewelry store here!”
19. Lack of services like appraisals, repairs, CAD/CAM. Work done poorly or not on time.
20. Overpromising and underdelivering.

It’s easy to fail, but it takes dedication, time and wisdom to succeed. If you improve in these areas and work toward success, promote professionalism and have the best-trained staff front and back, you will have a long life in this industry.

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Shane Decker

Here’s the Most Important Area To Invest In As a Jewelry Store Owner

You’re only as good as your people.

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RETAIL STORE OWNERS ARE having a difficult time holding onto their people. Right now, about half of all sales teams change every three years, and every seven years there is a total team change (with the exception of one or two “loyalists” in each store).

What’s the solution? Training. When salespeople have more knowledge, they close more sales and make more money. And as long as they’re making money, they’re far less likely to leave you.

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Training involves several areas, but one of the most fundamental is product knowledge. Your customers are more educated than ever before — and millennials are taking this to a whole new level. They do more research and know more about the product they’re purchasing than most salespeople do.

That’s why all salespeople, especially in bridal and diamonds, should take GIA Diamonds 1 and 2 and Diamond Grading. To some of you, this seems elementary, but I see so many salespeople who haven’t done this.

Salespeople who don’t have product knowledge talk too much to make up for their lack of knowledge. When you talk too much, you can talk right past the closing opportunity. Talking too much also takes the client’s attention away from the item being sold, and it takes attention away from the reason he or she came into your store in the first place.

Product knowledge gives you self-confidence and empowers you. When you have self-confidence, the client will have confidence in you. They won’t have as many objections. Your closing ratio will go up because clients can tell that you know what you’re talking about. They will trust you to help them make a decision.

Owners and managers: hold a one-hour sales meeting each week. Spend 20 minutes on product knowledge, 20 minutes on salesmanship, and 20 minutes on role-playing. When your sales team is well-trained, you’ll have more time to work on your business and you’ll be interrupted less often to help people close sales.

You’re only as good as the people you train. Your team controls how much money you make. And it’s amazing how many salespeople in jewelry stores do not know what they’re doing.

When salespeople are empowered with knowledge, they’re happier and more successful. Teamwork is better because they trust each other’s sales skills.

If you want a higher inventory turn, a higher closing ratio, and more net profit, start training your team. The more knowledgeable they are, the more valuable they feel and the longer they will stay. You invest money in buildings and marketing — start investing in your most valuable asset: your people.

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Shane Decker

How to Avoid 3 Security and Sales Risks

Secure sales techniques not only keep your jewelry safer, they make your clients happier, writes Shane Decker.

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THROUGHOUT THE YEAR, I’m in jewelry stores all over the country, and one thing I’ve noticed is that many stores are packing up their jewelry and timepieces before they close. They start packing up at 5:30 when they close at 6. What if a client comes in at 5:50 because that’s the only time he can make it, and everything is put away? You’ve just told him you don’t want to wait on him. He’ll go somewhere else and become a client there.

I’ve heard salespeople tell such a client, “Tell us what you want and we’ll go get it out.” But by that point, it’s already too late. The client feels like he is being a bother or that your plans are more important than he is. (Not only is the practice of packing up early a sale killer, but your insurance carrier may have a problem with it as well. You’ve got your jewelry all boxed up and sitting on top of the counters for the bad guys to come in and take it out very easily.)

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Some stores try to avoid killing the sale by packing up areas where they don’t think the client is looking. But this is silently telling the client, “Hurry up and get out so that we can finish packing up the area you’re looking at.”

Clients hate feeling rushed. They chose your store to purchase jewelry. If you’re in that big of a hurry to get home every night, go get another job! Quit killing the client’s experience.

Another problem I see often is what I call “over-showing.” It’s when salespeople have too many items out on the counter pad. This only confuses the client. It also makes it easier for someone to grab your inventory and run out the door. If you ask enough selling-specific questions, you can dial in quickly on what the client wants and concentrate on one or at most two items. Never have more than three items at once on the pad. But always put the item that interests the client in their hand. It shows trust and gives them ownership.

One final security risk that I see is salespeople walking away from their clients. If you leave the merchandise out in front of them, you make them feel nervous. But if you take it with you, you’re showing them that you don’t trust them. This is a sale killer. Always have someone to assist you to avoid either of these bad options.

Be sales-minded, but also be security minded. Practice store floor awareness. Be aware of other sales associates’ needs. This will make your store more secure, and equally importantly, make your clients much happier with their experience.

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