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Shane Decker

Shane Decker: A Llittle Extra

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When it comes to company benefits, a little goes a long way. Shane Decker tells you how to make the most of yours.

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A Little Extra

It’s one thing to persuade a prospective customer that they need a diamond. It’s another thing entirely to convince them that they’re in the right place to buy it. For that, you must have strong company benefits. Company benefits are the added values, the extra things your store does for the customer, usually free of charge. When taken in total, they set you apart from every other competitor.

When your customers know what differentiates your store from the rest, you’ll have less people leaving to shop around, and more people returning to buy from you. Most jewelry stores offer from 50 to 120 company benefits to their customers. However, sometimes two or three very powerful ones can carry the day. Company benefits fall into three categories:

Services

The above-and-beyond actions you take for your customers, services are often worth far more to your customer than their cost to you in dollars. Examples include sizing rings while a customer waits, free gift-wrapping, interest-free financing, and free watch battery replacement.

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Facts

Those store attributes that encourage trust, facts about your company let the customer know that they can rest easy making a purchase from you. For example, being a third or fourth generation owner, belonging to reputable jewelry organizations, having graduate gemologists on staff, and having state-of-the-art technology available for viewing diamonds are all impressive facts.

Quality

The assurances you give the customer that guarantee an impeccable product, quality benefits alone can often close the sale for you. Examples include money-back or trade-in guarantees, brand name jewelry, high skill and expertise in jewelry repair and appraisal, and GIA certified diamonds.

How many company benefits do you offer your customers? And, have you trained your staff on selling them? When your customers know what differentiates your store from the rest, you’ll have less people leaving to shop around, and more people returning to buy from you. Likewise, the more compelling benefits you offer, the more customers will talk about you to their friends, and referral business will increase. Prospects brought in by referrals have the highest closing rate in the industry. Therefore, we can conclude that incredible company benefits can have a more powerful impact on sales than almost any other aspect of your business.

But how do you know which benefits to push to a given customer? Anything that has tangible value to the customer immediately and which is unique to your operation should be included in every sales presentation. By including this information, your salespeople can often head off integrity objections before they start. In other cases, your salespeople will offer company benefits to answer specific objections from the customer.

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Clearly, having strong company benefits can make or break an operation. So ask yourself: what’s it worth to your business to load up on company benefits? $1 million? $5 million? Now can you afford to offer that amazing diamond guarantee, or that unbelievable financing? The possibilities are endless, but only if you invest in the benefits and train your people.

Shane Decker has provided sales training for more than 3,000 stores worldwide. Contact him at (317) 535-8676 or at ex-sell-ence.com.

This story is from the August 2003 edition of INSTORE.

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Shane Decker

Here’s the Most Important Area To Invest In As a 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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Shane Decker

The Time Shane Decker Pre-Judged a Client – and Paid the Price

Every time you approach a client, think “She’s a millionaire. I’m closing this sale.”

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Selling out of your own pocketbook means selling what you can afford. But never assume that’s all the client can afford. If you do, you’re not just doing yourself and your store a disservice — you’re doing your client a disservice.

Let me tell you a story about me. About 40 years ago when I was new in the industry, there was a lady that I thought was poor. I was new to the community and I thought people were mean to her — they all called her “The Cat Lady.” She pushed an empty cart by the store every morning, then in the evening, she would come by with a cart full of bottles, cans and anything she thought was valuable.

Right before Valentine’s Day, we had just changed our store windows to feature ruby and diamond jewelry. That evening, she stopped and looked in the window. Then she covered everything up in her cart, parked it outside and came in.

She was wearing a ratty old coat. I waited on her with a smile. She let me know she had always wanted a ruby and diamond ring, and she loved the one in our window. I got it out and handed it to her. She said again, “I’ve always wanted a ruby ring.” I should have closed the sale, but I blew it.

The ring fit perfectly, but I was worried about my integrity. I didn’t want to be known as a salesperson that sold her jewelry on a day that was very cold. Maybe she was hungry and needed a new coat. So I said one of the dumbest things I’ve ever said to a client: “Don’t you really need a coat?”

She said, “Young man, if I wanted to buy a coat, I would buy a coat! I want a ruby ring.” She smiled and left, and I felt like an idiot. If I remember right, our ring was around $695. Rather than going on her merry way, she went back the other direction to the jeweler on the next block. Later that evening as I was tearing down our windows to put our jewelry in the vault, she gave me a Princess Diana wave, showing me the ruby ring she had just purchased. I found out later she had laid down 12 $100 bills. Wow.

Later that week, I went outside and apologized. She said, “Young man, we all have lessons to learn in our life. I know you meant well. But I did want a ruby and diamond ring.” She was so nice. But if I’d been listening, she would have walked out of our store with a ruby ring. She was already closed.

When you sell out of your own pocket, you are accidentally pre-judging the client. Every time you approach someone, always go with a smile and think, “She’s a millionaire. I’m closing this sale. I’m adding on. And she’s going to be wowed before she leaves.”

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