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Shane Decker

Shane Decker: All Alone

No man is an island on the sales floor, says Shane Decker. You need teamwork to seal the deal.

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REMEMBER GILLIGAN, STRANDED on a deserted island after that “three-hour tour” went awry? But even Gilligan had friends. Imagine being on that deserted island alone — without a Ginger and Mary Ann for moral support (and va-va-va-voom), a Professor to help you look smart, or a Skipper to lead you. It wouldn’t make for much of a television show … and neither would it make for a positive jewelry buying experience for your customers.

And yet, I see this phenomenon everywhere I go: salespeople who are “stranded” on the selling floor, by themselves, with a customer. Or worse, there’s no one there to greet the customer at all; instead, the entire sales team is congregated at the back of the store, chatting. I used to think that the number-one reason people shopped for jewelry on the Internet was price. It’s not! They do it because they’re sick and tired of being made to feel inferior by jewelers downtown who are snobby and won’t wait on them. And even if they do get waited on, it’s often by a “stranded” salesperson who seems disjointed and flighty. Not the kind of experience that breeds confidence and loyalty.

A stranded salesperson is fighting uphill from the get-go. Let’s say you need tweezers, or a diamond, or something else for your presentation, and there’s no one there to help. You have to “tear down your stage” and lock the jewelry back in the showcase. What does this tell the customer? That you don’t trust her! She’s thinking, “What does he think I am — a crook? Why would I buy from someone who thinks I’m a crook???”

On top of that, you have to turn your back and walk away from the customer, which immediately drops your chance of closing the sale by 50%. When you return, you have to set your whole stage back up, and meanwhile the customer has gotten distracted and is thinking about her son’s soccer game. You have to start all over with your presentation. Good luck steering the Titanic.

Rule of thumb: There must be one extra person on the floor at all times. That way, there’s always someone available to offer an “assist,” and ensure that no one has to interrupt their sales presentation. Next time you or one of your co-workers needs something, you can say, “John, I need your assistance for a moment, please,” or “Lisa, would you mind grabbing the pendant that matches these earrings?”

Train your team to assist one another, incentivize that teamwork, and staff for it. Yes, the assist is a great way to increase add-on sales. If you were stranded, you’d either have to drag the customer across the floor to another showcase to see the add-on item, or interrupt your presentation to go get it … either way, you lose. With the assist in place, you continue to make the customer comfortable and happy while your associate retrieves the additional item. And don’t forget how impressed that customer will be when she sees that multiple people are working together to ensure her satisfaction. Think you might close that sale?

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Absolutely. Eliminating interruptions during your presentation will exponentially increase your chances of closing more sales. It has been my experience that the number-one sales killer in our industry is pre-judging customers, number two is customers not getting waited on immediately, and a close number three is being waited on by a stranded salesperson. So, don’t leave each other out there on that island alone.

Would Gilligan have survived for three full seasons (1964-67) if the Skipper decided it was “every man for himself”… or would he have been “canceled” after the first episode? Train your team to assist one another, incentivize that teamwork, and staff for it. Taking the cheap way out and understaffing only ensures your failure. Instead, give everyone a lifeline, and sail the seas of your marketplace with confidence.

This story is from the February 2005 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 [email protected].

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