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Shane Decker

It’s the Training Technique Salespeople Hate Most. Here’s How to Make It More Fun.

Make role-playing fun, effective and free of criticism.

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IF YOU EVER want to make a room full of sales associates cringe, just say the words, “It’s time to role-play.” As important as this activity is, no one wants to do it because it’s intimidating and often embarrassing. But the truth is,role-playing is very effective and can be fun when done correctly.

Unfortunately, rather than practice on each other during or after sales meetings, many sales associates practice on their clients. Their opening lines are terrible; they say “What can I help you with?” or “Hi, how are you?” Their presentations have become rote and do not make customers feel special. Their closes are just as bad. They say, “Can I wrap this up for you?” “I’ll size it while you wait,” or “How do you want to pay for this?” Your clients get tired of hearing the same things over and over everywhere they go.

Only practice through roleplaying gives sales associates the proficiency they need to give clients a truly special experience.

But most stores (if they roleplay at all) do it in a way that humiliates participants. They ask sales associates to stand up in front of everyone and role-play a scenario. Then, after the sales associate is done, everyone else picks it apart and talks about what the associate did wrong. They call this “constructive criticism,” but in my view, there’s nothing constructive about criticism.

Role-playing should be a fun part of sales meetings and most of all a learning experience. During the sales meeting, after the training information for that day has been delivered, it is time for roleplay. This is how it works:

Break sales associates into pairs — that way, you don’t have an audience watching you. One sales associate plays the client. You have a list of 40 objections in front of you, along with appropriate answers. The “client” throws out each objection, and the other salesperson has to handle it. Go through all 40 objections. Then, reverse roles: The salesperson who was the client is now the salesperson, and vice versa. For any objection you can’t handle, put it aside — now you know what you need to work on.

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Role-playing can work for improving greetings, closes, selling company benefits, delivering value-added statements and pretty much any other part of the sales presentation. Role-playing allows you to sell yourself much more effectively, which is the key to selling more product.

If you want to take it to the next level, role-play a scenario. It could be a young man coming in to buy a diamond for an engagement. You can discuss price and how to close if he’s technical or if he isn’t, if he’s researched it. These scenarios can last 15 to 20 minutes.

My wish is all of you role-play because it’s the most powerful learning experience for preparing you for success on the sales floor. Don’t be critical — be a leader. Help each other succeed.

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

The Difference Between Closes and Statements, 7 Lead-In Lines and More Sales Advice

Here’s how to make closing sales easier, says Shane Decker.

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HAVE YOU EVER made something that should have been easy difficult? Maybe you overthought it, or you were afraid to try. Or you were worried what someone else would think.

Salespeople tell me all the time, “I tried that and it didn’t work.” But my observation is that people often try something once, fail at it, and then give up. They’ve proven to themselves that something new does not work.

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You have to want to make the effort and put in the time and practice to build new habits, especially when it comes to what I call “needle movers.”

Needle movers are actions that put money in the cash register immediately. The three big needle movers are closing, adding on and wowing clients. These should be easy, but we make them hard because of fear, lack of experience, or lack of selling skills.

It’s time to get over that fear of change. Have your team write 10 new closes, and make sure they’re not statements. For example:

Statement: “That is a beautiful diamond.”

Close: “She’s going to love wearing that beautiful diamond, and you’re gonna be glad you gave it to her.”

Then have them write 10 lead-in lines for add-on sales. Do not say, “Can I,” “May I” or “Would you like?” Clients can say no to all of these. Examples of lead-in lines to create add-on sales are:

“We have what matches.”

“This is part of a set.”

“She won’t wear this without the matching.”

“Tell me something else she’s always wanted but you haven’t purchased yet.”

Then, have your sales team write 10 lead-in lines to create a sale from scratch. This is what you say to a client when they’re waiting for a battery or repair. Examples include:

“Guess what’s in the vault?”

“Gotta show you my favorite.”

“Guess what just came in.”

These must be said with passion and enthusiasm. They allow you to wow the client and change their experience while they wait. Remember: You have to do something to make something happen. Clients buy on impulse all the time.

Practice with your team and make these phrases come naturally. Start all of these presentations with a lead-in line, and the rest will happen by itself. Clients do not get mad when you show them something gorgeous.

But you have to hold yourself accountable, and there has to be consistency. For some reason, it’s easier to fall back on old bad habits than keep good ones. Winging it doesn’t work. Practice with each other over and over until the simple truly is simple.

Creating is better than waiting. Get comfortable with your sales skills. Be the sales associate your client wants you to be.

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Shane Decker

You’re Killing Your Own Jewelry Sales By Talking About the Price

Romance the item and the reason they came in, and you’ll close more sales.

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DURING THE HOLIDAYS, we get into bad sales habits because the sales are so easy and customers are buying price-point items. We sell faster, we sell price and sometimes we don’t even really sell the item. Now that we’re into the new year, it’s time to get back into good selling habits.

The diamond season is about to start. Typically, it runs from April 16 through the end of September (although we sell diamonds all year, which we should). What can keep you from selling as many diamonds as you could? The price.

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Too many salespeople are afraid of the price, no matter which item they’re selling, which causes problems with closing the sale, among other things. When you try to justify the price or the client feels you are apologizing for the price, they start to believe that you think they can’t afford the item. They will feel pre-judged and leave.

Clients are coming in for you to spend their money for them; they’re paying you as a professional to do this. You do not need to decide how much they can spend. Let the client decide that (unless you’re wowing them with a $10,000 diamond while they’re waiting for a battery).

Instead of price, concentrate on selling with romance and knowledge. These two things build confidence in your product. Quality, technical information, craftsmanship, design, difficulty, brand, rarity, size, color, clarity, cut, and other factors all contribute to the value of the product.

That said, you have to understand when technical selling is appropriate, and how much to do. Some clients are not interested in this at all, so do not volunteer technical information if it’s not needed. You don’t need to impress the client, but if they have concerns or questions about technical aspects of the product, it’s up to you to answer any and all questions with authority.

Remember: The more money the item costs, the easier it is to close because the customer can afford it. The less the item costs, usually the harder it is to close. Money is just a tool the client uses to obtain what he or she wants. Always start high and go down — you limit yourself when you start low and try to work up.

Begin the sale with questions that encourage the client to tell you their story and why they’re in your store. And make it about the importance of the item. When you make it about them and the item and you learn to romance the reason they’re here, the price will become insignificant and the client will upsell themselves.

Don’t talk about yourself, and certainly don’t make the sale about price. They’ll forget how much they spend, but they’ll always remember the event and the item.

Millennials are changing the size of the starter set diamond — diamonds from 1.5-carats to 2 carats are selling like crazy all over the country. All of you should be selling big diamonds. Make 2020 the year of big diamond sales and high closing ratios in your store.

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Shane Decker

No Time to Train Your Team? Au Contraire. Here’s How You Do It

Take full advantage of every minute to make your sales team better.

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THEY SAY THAT in all work environments, employees waste about one-third of their time each day. Any time wasted is too much, and that is the one thing you can never get back.

You’re investing in your employees’ time already; why not make the most of it?

One of the reasons so many stores are struggling is that their staffs are not properly trained. The only way your employees will be successful in your store is for you and your managers to communicate not just in sales meetings, but also through one-on-one training. This allows you to teach them in their particular areas of weaknesses.

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You say you never have time?

In the mornings when you are setting up, have a 15-30 minute meeting on salesmanship, product or gemological knowledge, or closing techniques. Most of your team is present at this time of day. And yet, in too many stores, I hear team members discussing where they had pizza or what movie they saw last night. What a wasted opportunity!

Throughout the workday, discuss sales that are made and what the sales associate did to close or add on. Talk about what they did to wow each client. And when a customer leaves without buying, talk about what you as a sales team could have done to close the sale or improve the client’s experience.

Too often, we miss awesome coaching opportunities because we wait too long to train on what happened, or we don’t address it at all.

Learning opportunities need to be discussed at the first available moment (after the client leaves, of course).

And be sure to talk about what went right, not just what went wrong. When you discuss success, it empowers your team and motivates them to do what is right again. Most people on your team are natural pleasers, and they love it when you are happy with their work performance. If they know they pleased you, they’ll try harder to please you again.

The learning curve in our industry is three years. You will only get out of your associates what you put into them. It takes time, study, dedication, determination, setting proper goals for each person, and training on each person’s level and skill set.

Jewelers tell me all the time that they need bodies. The problem with that statement is, we’re leaving client bodies all over the floor.

Start the new year with a New Year’s resolution: to train every day and every week. Use time wisely. Have a better-trained team at the end of 2020 than you started the year with.

Take advantage of every moment of success to talk about what happened. It will make your team feel more loyal to you and they’ll try harder. People are more motivated by recognition than money. Let them know how important they are to you. Empower your people, give them skills to succeed, and always let them know you couldn’t do it without them.

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