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Shane Decker

Shane Decker: Be Unlike Mike

If you really want to be a superstar sales manager, stop trying to do everything. Shane Decker shows you how to share the load.




HAVE YOU EVER tried to be the “Michael Jordan” of your business? You probably found that, unlike basketball, no retail operation can be successful if it depends upon one person who tries to do everything. The more you try to juggle, the more balls you drop (even Jordan found this out when he tried to act as both player and President of Basketball Operations for the Washington Wizards).

A great sales manager, like a great store owner, must learn to delegate. If you are the owner of your business, your appointed role is that of entrepreneur — thinking about how to grow your company, ensuring its financial health, guiding its marketing, buying its merchandise. In short, working on your business, not in it. On the other hand, if you are the sales manager, your job involves scheduling employees, handling conflict, maintaining accountability, ensuring the sales floor looks sharp, and when necessary, stepping in to save a sale if your team member is losing it. If you do a great job of working in the business, you free up your store owner to work on big-picture goals. Either of these jobs will keep you busier than a one-eyed cat watching two mouseholes, so why should you take on more by doing someone else’s job?

A great sales manager, like a great store owner, must learn to delegate. Most sales managers are “do-ers” — they don’t like to sit back and watch someone else do a job that they could do better. Problem is, this means that what the sales manager was supposed to be doing isn’t getting done at all. Learn how to assign tasks to the proper personalities on your staff, and be patient while they grow.

To help aid team members in their development, you should be conducting four different types of sales meetings every month:

  1. How to sell. This is Sales Training 101, which teaches the anatomy of the sale, from the opening line to the close (which is a process, not an ending). So many sales managers try to teach their people how to sell the way they themselves do, which can only result in underachievement. Instead, show your team members how to sell profile-correct, using their own selling style. You’ll also need to teach your staff how to handle objections (the biggest weakness in the industry), as well as how to sell company benefits such as warranties and service.
  2. GIA knowledge. No matter what product you sell, you have to know far more about it than your customer. Diamonds, gemstones, and rare metals are no exception.
  3. Product knowledge. Beyond simply knowing about the materials used to make the jewelry, a strong salesperson needs to be well-versed on every vendor and every product featured in your showcases. Furthermore, they need to know what is in the catalog, and how long it will take to order.
  4. Store procedure. Every month, you should go over the policies and procedures that ensure an awesome experience for your customers. I call this “flawless execution of the basics,” which includes the crucial first 30 seconds for each customer, how to ensure that no salesperson is “stranded” on the floor alone, as well as the little things such as filling out sales receipts and repair envelopes. You will also want to regularly ask your team members which high-ticket item they will show to every customer that day, and identify the “team seller” for the week to help assist with sales.

Don’t administer “sales beatings.” No one is motivated when you point out people’s mistakes, and it will cost you sales. And don’t waste time talking about what is being advertised. Your time is far better spent on role-playing (such as practicing the T.O.), and the most effective role-playing is done with paying customers.

You don’t have to be Michael Jordan — even Jordan himself could only juggle so many balls. Being a superstar sales manager means cultivating greatness in your people, properly delegating tasks, and then hanging around just close enough to step in when absolutely needed. When you let your people play the game while you coach from the sidelines, you’ll get far more accomplished, breed far more loyalty, and achieve far greater results than you ever dreamed possible!

This story is from the March 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].



Celebrate Your Retirement with Wilkerson

For nearly three decades, Suzanne and Tom Arnold ran a successful business at Facets Fine Jewelry in Arlington, Va. But the time came when the Arnolds wanted to do some of the things you put off while you’ve got a business to run. “We decided it was time to retire,” says Suzanne, who claims the couple knew how to open a store, how to run a store but “didn’t know how to close a store.” So, they hired Wilkerson to do it for them. When she called, Suzanne says Wilkerson offered every option for the sale she could have hoped for. Better still, “the sale exceeded our financial goals like crazy,” she says. And customers came, not only to take advantage of the going-out-of-business buys and mark-downs, but to wish a bon voyage to the beloved proprietors of a neighborhood institution. “People were celebrating our retirement, and that was so special,” says says.

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