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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

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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Shane Decker

20 Things That Can Cause a Jeweler to Fail

Shane Decker 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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