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Shane Decker

Shane Decker: Build The Perfect Team

Identify your staff’s strengths and make sure everyone is reading from the same playbook.




THE GREATEST SPORTS teams are comprised of players who not only play their position with strength, but also rely on their teammates to make plays. In a word, these players are unselfish.

Your store can have a great sales team, but your employees must understand that they win when the store wins. The team has to be united in one goal: to close every sale. Not everyone is capable of being a team player… and some simply aren’t competent to play their role well enough to be relied upon by their teammates. It all starts with whom you hire.

A lot of owners hire people that they like. I hear things like this all the time:

  • “She’s never sold jewelry before, but she’ll work for nine dollars an hour.”
  • “I promised my friend I’d give her a shot in jewelry sales.”
  • “She’s a nice lady who’s done the books in our church for a while. I’ve never heard her say much, but I just wanted to see if she can sell jewelry.”

Jewelers have a bad habit of hiring based on whether the candidate is a friend, relative, or just someone they like. Now don’t get me wrong: I love working with people I like. But I much prefer people who can actually produce.

When you’re interviewing a potential employee, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this the best person I can hire for my company?
  • Can she give my customer a luxury buying experience?
  • Does she have a poverty-level mentality, or will she sell with confidence that the customer can afford it?
  • Will she sell with integrity?
  • Will she sell with the same passion that I have?
  • Is she just here to “do a job,” or does she want to raise the bar on her career?
  • Does she want to help others succeed, or is she a customer hog?

And remember: When you hire someone for nine dollars an hour, you get what you pay for.


The other mistake many store owners make is hiring salespeople who sell like they do. Thus, they ignore the fact that there are customers who won’t respond to that type of sales approach.

Have you ever heard of a football team made up only of quarterbacks? They could be the best quarterbacks in the country, but they won’t win — they don’t have anyone to block, run, or catch their passes.

The same is true in a jewelry store. In the past, I’ve talked about the different sales personalities — serpentines, missiles and sneaks – who will also be naturally patient or impatient, talkers or listeners (see my March 2003 INSTORE column). To recap, a serpentine is a conversational, “Type B” personality; a missile is direct, impatient “Type A” personality; and a sneak can take on the attributes of either type as needed. It’s absolutely necessary that you hire a mix of these to work in your store.

Serpentines make up about 70 percent of the country’s sales force, missiles are 20 percent and sneaks are 10 percent. Most stores have all serpentines or all missiles, based on what the owner prefers. But being able to T.O. a sale to another type can make all the difference in drastically improving your closing ratios.

Let’s say a serpentine has been working with someone for 45 minutes and they’re getting nowhere – she shouldn’t turn the customer over to the person she likes best. Instead, turn it over to the known closer (the missile). On the other hand, a missile may talk to someone for 30 minutes and become utterly frustrated; turn it over to someone with more patience (the serpentine).

When there’s sales-floor awareness, everyone’s waiting on the right customer, and someone’s ready to pitch in and help out if needed. It doesn’t matter who closed it, as long as it got closed. Every member of your team should know which team member has:

  • the most patience;
  •  the most diamond knowledge;
  • the most watch knowledge;
  • the most colored gemstone knowledge;
  • the best skills for romancing the product;
  • the best skills for romancing the reason the customer came in;
  • the most aptitude for add-ons;
  • the most aptitude for closing the sale;
  • the best skills for handling objections.

I’ve never met a salesperson who was strong at every single point of the presentation. If you know what everyone else’s strengths are, you can use that on the floor to achieve your goal of closing every customer.

This story is from the May 2009 edition of INSTORE.






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