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Shane Decker

How Role-Playing Can Help You Have Your Happiest Holidays Ever

For a successful holiday season, practice, practice, practice.

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How does a doctor become proficient in medicine, or an attorney in the law? Through practice.Why should jewelry sales be any different?

With the expectations that clients have these days walking into your store, you simply can’t afford for your salespeople to stumble through their presentations or misspeak when handling objections. You’re only as good as you train, and that training should be weekly, not yearly or monthly.

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It’s been my experience that most salespeople take three years or more to become comfortable with gemology, product knowledge and the art of salesmanship (more if you sell watches as well). The quickest way to bring a new employee up to speed is to get her as much practice as possible. Likewise, employees who have been around a while can become rusty in certain situations without practice to keep them sharp.

You should be holding at least a one-hour sales training meeting every week (informational store meetings don’t count; this is a meeting dedicated to sales training). Your sales meeting should be broken up into three parts: 20 minutes on products or gemology, 20 minutes on how to sell the product you just learned about, and 20 minutes of role-playing. Role-playing is probably the most important part of the meeting because it keeps us from practicing on the client.

Most sales associates hate role-playing, and I can see why. In most stores, it’s done incorrectly. Don’t do it with two salespeople standing at the counter and everyone else watching and waiting for them to make a mistake. This is intimidating; people will be on their guard. Instead, break into twos with all teams working in different corners of the store so no one is listening to the others practicing. The owner or sales manager can walk around and work with each group, acting as a coach to help with any area of need. The coach should never be critical but always helpful, leading with correct execution.

What can be role-played? Everything. Closing skills, handling objections, selling company benefits, romancing the beauty of the item, value-added statements and the reason the client came in, bridal presentations for all age groups, how to sell the created or clerk ticket, closing all the way through, what to do when the client says no, add-on salesmanship, wowing, practicing absolutes, how and when to do a team-sale or T.O., etc.

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Let’s say you’re role-playing how to handle a particular type of objection. The client throws out an objection and the salesperson thinks of how many ways to answer it. Practice them all, then switch roles.

During this critical month of December, role-play adding on, creating a sense of urgency, upselling, price-point salesmanship and T.O.s. Make this the best Christmas you’ve ever had: practice!

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

What Not To Do During the First 30 Seconds of Any Sale

Huddling at the back is a big no-no.

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HAVE YOU EVER walked into what appeared to be a nice store, only to spin and leave faster than you came in? Or, have you ever walked into a nice place of business and watched two salespeople look at each other, then you, then each other again, like they’re seeing which one of them is going to wait on you?

You’re not alone — we’ve all had this experience, and jewelry stores are no exception. At too many stores, you’re not greeted at all, and sometimes, you can’t even find anyone to take care of your needs. This is one reason the Internet is doing so well.

People today are time-starved, and they will decide within the first 30 seconds of entering your store whether or not they’re going to give you their money.

Let’s begin with the first five seconds: every customer must be greeted — ideally, from the “sweet spot” in your store (15 feet inside your door to the customer’s right as they walk in). When you’re a client and you’re acknowledged, you feel important. It’s a relief subconsciously to realize that the sales associates know you’re there.

Never allow your sales floor to be vacant when clients come in. Many say they are just looking, but that’s an opportunity for you to use your first close by saying, “I always do that before I buy; let’s get started!” or “I’m glad you came in to take care of that today.”

“I’m just looking” means “I’m just spending.” It means “I’m on a mission, and when I find what I’m looking for, I’m gonna buy it.” It does not mean, “Leave me alone.” Like I said before, we are a time-starved nation, and nobody is just looking.

Do not come from the back of the store to the front; you should be there already. When you come from the back, your mind is focused on the busy work you were doing or the donut you were eating.

Never greet a customer from a group huddle. It’s good to laugh in your store, but if you’re all laughing about something when the client walks in, they may think you’re laughing at them.

Do not use canned openings like “Hi how are you?” or “What can I help you with?” Clients don’t need “help”; they want professional assistance to make a purchase or information about a service needed. Likewise, don’t say, “Good morning, welcome to Smith Jewelers.” That gets old, fast. What if they come in three or four times a year and hear you say the same thing? Keep your greetings creative and make sure they’re welcoming. Your greeting should be professional and make your client feel glad they came into your place of business.

Be present for the start of the sale, and keep it professional. Starting strong allows you to make it to the end (and hopefully close the sale). By doing so, you’ll keep your client from wanting to go to the Internet — after all, we do want to talk to real people, especially when it comes to jewelry.

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Shane Decker

How to Close a Male Buyer When You Know the Female Wants the Product

He needs to hear her say “yes.”

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HOW DO YOU CLOSE a bridal or anniversary ring sale when you know that the woman is making the decision on the product, but the man is the one making the purchase? You have to make two presentations at the same time — one that delivers peace of mind and freedom from risk (for him), and one that delivers on style and sentiment (for her).

Let’s say you’ve gone through your presentation and sold cut, clarity, color and carat weight, and explained the lab report, and the man is satisfied with the diamond. The presentation is just getting started. The woman wants to look at different shapes, try it on, take pictures with it and wear it.

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After you’ve built the relationship, ask selling-specific questions to both the man and the woman to find out exactly what they want. Eventually, you’ll know from conversation that the price is right, the diamond is correct and she loves the mounting. Now you’re in the 30-second window when it’s time to close the sale and the woman’s made up her mind. Sometimes you have to ask the wearer of the ring the proper questions so that the purchaser of the ring can hear answers to give him self-confidence to buy. You use the woman to help close the man.

Make sure she is wearing the ring when you ask these questions, and that she‘s looking at the ring during the conversation. He is going to hear a series of questions from you to which she will answer, “Yes.”

Do you love this ring? Yes.

Would you want to wear this ring all day, every day forever? Yes.

Would you like to leave with this ring today? Yes.

Does it feel right? (If not we can size it.) Yes.

Is this the diamond of your dreams? Yes.

He has heard five yeses. Now you can look at him and say, “She’s found the ring and diamond of her dreams.” This keeps him from saying, “We need to leave and discuss this.” She’s made up her mind; this is the one she wants. Based on the answers she’s given, she wants to leave with it. My close here would be, “While we’re wrapping this up, how would you like to take care of this?” You should use a close that’s correct for your selling profile.

Quit closing the wrong person. Sometimes you have to close the wearer first to close the buyer.

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Shane Decker

Here’s How to Know How Much Technical Information to Give Your Clients

Asking questions and building value should guide your decisions.

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WITH BRIDAL SEASON upon us, diamond sales are at their highest peak that they’ll be all year (mid-April through September). With that said, we need to be at our best when selling diamonds, and that means knowing when, how much and what technical information we should give each client.

Technical information can be a major sale builder or a major sale killer, and it takes an educated salesperson to discern how to use it. Millennials are the most educated, research-based shoppers ever in our industry. Some clients want to have a Ph. D in diamond knowledge when they leave the store. But others just want some information, while some don’t want any. They all want to buy a diamond, but they all want different amounts and kinds of information to make the purchase.

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So when it comes time to talk about technical information, always ask this question: “Would you like to know more about it?” Find out how much they want to know and no more. If you assume they don’t want to know about the 4 Cs but they actually did, they will think you’re stupid and leave the store. If you’re a gemologist (and that’s great that you are), don’t think that because you have all that knowledge that the client wants to know all that you know. If you get technical and the client doesn’t want this information, they glaze over and the sale is dead.

If the client does want to get technical, always present the 4 Cs in the proper order of value: cut, color, clarity and carat weight. If they want to see the lab report, always get on the same side of the showcase as the client and have a scope ready to assist you with the presentation (not a loupe).

When showing the 4 Cs chart, always use it to build value. Too many sales professionals start at the top of the chart and go down (from Flawless to SI1 or SI2). This devalues the diamond because it shows how far down the scale it falls. So always start at the bottom with an I3 and go up to an I1 and stop — then talk about how small the internal characteristics are starting to be. If it’s an SI1, stop and let them know that the internal characteristics are now invisible to the naked eye.

Do the same thing with color: start at Z and go up to F or G or whatever it may be. Talk about how the diamond becomes more colorless as you go up the chart.
Ask questions as you present and explain the technical information as you go — don’t ask questions when you’re done. Cover everything as thoroughly as needed but no more. Keep this as simple or as complicated as the client’s needs are.

When you ask questions all the way through (Ask-Listen-Paraphrase close), this gives your client self-confidence about the purchase, and with this type of presentation based on the technical aspects of the product, it gives them reasons to purchase based on quality information.

Sometimes the lab report and your ability to sell it is the closing tool you need.

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