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Shane Decker

Shane Decker: Know Return

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Customers are getting real smart, real fast. To increase your sales, you’ve got to do the same, says Shane Decker.

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Know Return

During my travels around the country, I find someone in every store challenging the sales team. Asking hard questions about the products they sell. Probing for details, testing their knowledge. Backing them into a corner until they’re confused, bewildered and frustrated. Unfortunately, I’m not talking about store owners or managers — I’m talking about customers.

These days, customers enter your store armed with knowledge, and they’ll be making objections for one of two reasons. Consumers are more educated than ever. I’m sure you’ve seen the 20-something Google junkies who often know more about the product you sell than your salespeople. (And watch out for their elders, who are also catching on fast!) They’ve spent hours on the Internet, checking websites, message boards, and blogs to make certain that they’re purchasing exactly the right product for them. It’s not just jewelry, it’s everything — cars, TVs, MP3 players, and more. But that’s cold comfort when they’re walking out of your store, dissatisfied.

These days, customers enter your store armed with knowledge, and they’ll be making objections for one of two reasons. First, for reassurance — they want to know they’re buying the right product. And second, to challenge you — they want to buy from the best, most knowledgeable store in town. In short, they want to know they’re purchasing from someone who knows more than they do about the product. If your salesperson can’t answer, the customer will think he or she’s either undertrained or new. Either way, the customer walks and the sale is killed.

Some jewelers emphasize gemological training, and while that is extremely important, it’s not enough. Salespeople need to know the stories behind the brands they sell. All of them.

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A lot of salespeople allow themselves to be “category smart.” They bone up on watches, or designer jewelry, or bridal jewelry – but not all three (or any of your other myriad categories). But what if the store is busy, and they can’t T.O. the sale? Now you’ve got an amateur selling your jewelry. The only real solution is to make sure that every salesperson on your staff is proficient in each category that you sell.

That’s the whip, but there’s also a carrot. More product knowledge means more self-confidence. And the more confident the salesperson, the more confident the customer is that they’ve found the right product, and the right person from which to buy it.

Fact: the more knowledge you have, the less you need it. Customers can tell when you know your stuff. They’ll stop challenging, and you can get to the real meat of their objections. And if you don’t know your stuff, they’ll challenge you relentlessly. They’re nervous about your lack of knowledge, and it will show.

Even better, the more you know, the less you have to negotiate price. Even better, the more you know, the less you have to negotiate price. Why? Because you now have the tools to qualify the price — you can prove its worth! If a customer thinks a product costs too much, they don’t know enough about what it took to make it. But you should. And when you explain it, you’ll find their price objections melting away. The “poverty-level mentality” so common in salespeople, where they don’t think customers can afford certain products, would be eliminated if they’d just take more time to learn about what they’re selling.

Owners, product knowledge isn’t something to think about teaching your staff. They have to have it. Bring in your sales reps to train on their products. Make up tests for your staff. Don’t assume anything — assess each person’s strengths and weaknesses. In some cases, the entire staff may need training. In others, maybe a one-on-one session makes more sense. Whatever you decide, just be sure to act.

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.

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This story is from the February 2006 edition of INSTORE.

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Shane Decker

Four Sales Meetings You Must Hold Before the Holidays

Cover these topics to maximize your selling opportunities this season.

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FROM DECEMBER 1ST TO the 24th, closing ratios double and impulse sales skyrocket. The problem? It’s too easy. Salespeople tend to slip into lackadaisical sales practices because the sales happen either way.

Unfortunately, this endangers repeat business and could even cost you holiday sales.

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To prevent this from occurring, hold sales meetings over the next four weeks and address each of these topics in turn.

1. Store Floor Awareness: Emphasize that your team must know what’s happening at all times with all clients. There’s an old wives’ tale that whoever is closest to the door is the greeter; not true. If you’re near the close, you’re not going to turn away to greet a new customer. That means someone else needs to be ready. Has the client been greeted? Does a salesperson need an assist? Is the client about to walk away? Teach your team how to recognize and react to these situations.

2. Wowing All Customers: Salespeople say they are too busy to do this, and that everyone has what they want already. Wrong. This is the time of year that impulse buys greatly increase. All you have to say is, “Guess what’s in the vault?” or “Guess what just came in?” Let the rest take care of itself. Show your team how to “wow” every customer and emphasize just how critical it is.

3. Closing: Clients want you to close. At Christmas time, no one is just looking; everyone is just buying. Learn to professionally create a sense of urgency, but always be honest. You can say:

  • “We only have one of these left.”
  • “These have been really popular this year.”
  • “We can’t get any more of these until after Christmas”
  • “She’s going to love it; you should do this.”
  • “We sell this item faster than we can get it in.”
  • “You’re going to be a hero; she won’t believe you did this.”

If it’s on December 24th, you can even say, “We close in 10 minutes. There’s not another place you can go and just look; this is it!”

4. Add-ons: Too many salespeople spin and walk to the point-of-sale after the first item is sold. When you do this, you tell the client they’re done. Instead, purchase some beautiful, small sharp scissors. From now on, once you’ve sold an item, take out your scissors, cut the tag off and lay it on the counter pad. That says you’ve sold the item, but you can continue selling.
The average Christmas buyer buys 15-20 gifts, and the average salesperson sells just one. Instead, after the first item is sold, say one of these add-on lines:

  • “This is part of a set.”
  • “We have what matches.”
  • “I gotta show you what goes with this because she’s gonna love it.”
  • “How many others are on your list?”

These are called lead-in lines because they lead into the next presentation. The average add-on takes 30 seconds because you don’t have to sell; they’re already sold.

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Shane Decker

This Is the Fastest Way to Kill a Jewelry Sale … Even If You Mean Well

It’s one of the surest ways to ruin a client’s experience.

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TRUE SALESMANSHIP MEANS bringing skills and professionalism, knowledge, truthfulness and politeness to a presentation — as well as always making the client feel like she’s the most important person to come in all day, even if she is the 101st. We also have to bring a friendly attitude and be ready to support our teammates. But doing these things in the wrong way can backfire. Occasionally, when you try to be too friendly, it’s a sales killer. Let me explain.

Sometimes when a client has just come in and someone else has greeted them and started a presentation, another sales associate sees the client. They think, “I know them,” or “I’ve waited on them before,” or they’re a friend or a neighbor. But the client didn’t ask for that sales associate when they came in. This can create a big problem.

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The salesperson who is with the client is in the middle of the presentation and the other salesperson comes up and says, “Hello!” or “How are you doing?” This totally interrupts the presentation and now they may have to start over. They may even be in the 30-second window about to close the sale. The closing opportunity may now be lost.

There is a time for small talk and being neighborly, but this is not the time. Interruptions are deadly.

If the client had asked for the other salesperson, it would have been their responsibility, but never interrupt a sales presentation. When the client is ready to walk to the door, that’s the time that it’s OK to make your approach and speak to them. No one should ever walk in on a sale besides the sales floor manager, the manager or the owner, and even then they should only do it to assist in the presentation (not “take over”; assist).

Some salespeople do this because they think they own the client and they think they deserve the sale, so they unprofessionally walk in uninvited. This is very uncomfortable for the client and it’s uncomfortable for the salesperson who is with the client because they feel pushed out.

Clients do not like pushy salespeople. The salesperson also knows they could never team-sell with someone who is so unprofessional.

Our job as a sales team is to help others be successful. When one of your teammates is giving a presentation, your job is to grab tools, get drinks and cookies, and be a servant. Be a team player and don’t worry about who is with the client; be aware if something is needed. If the client wants to talk to you, they will let someone know. I don’t care whose name is on the ticket, but I do care that there is a ticket.

Our goal is a client who leaves happy and gave us money for something beautiful. Don’t be an interrupter!

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Shane Decker

Did You Know that When You Close a Sale, You’re Helping Your Customer?

They want to leave with their chosen product in a bag.

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TODAY’S CLIENTS DON’T have time to shop tomorrow. They buy the day they shop; you do the same thing. Millennials shop online before they decide to come to your store. Older generations might go from store to store to find what they want, but they too buy the day they shop. Most of us start with the store where we want to leave our money.

Clients want you to close the sale. In part, they are paying you to make a professional decision for them and trusting you to do it. Sixty to 70 percent of your clients cannot make up their own minds. That’s why you should never say, “Can I wrap it up for you?” They will walk because you’re asking them to make a decision.

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Moreover, approximately 90 percent of all clients who say I’ll be back never come back; 7 percent do. And, around 80 percent of all clients who say “I’ll be back” buy elsewhere within the first one to two hours after leaving your location.

The No. 1 reason clients leave empty-handed is not inventory or price. It’s that they were not closed. Too many salespeople do show-and-tell presentations rather than show-and-sell presentations. Independently owned stores’ closing ratios are between 27-33 percent, yet 80 percent of shoppers buy the day they shop. If you shop today, do you have time to shop tomorrow? Didn’t think so.

Never believe the client is coming back. This is the time for a team-sell or a T.O. When they say “I’ll be back,” that means they are leaving to shop somewhere else.

When you let the client leave empty-handed, you’re giving money to one of your competitors.

The best way to preserve client loyalty is to close the sale. A client is successful when they leave with a bag, give you money and they’re glad they came in — not when they have to leave and start the process somewhere else.

One of your most successful opportunities should be your referral clients, but remember, they have high expectations. Someone bragged about how awesome you or your team was. If the expectations are met, closing ratio with referrals are usually over 80 percent. Interestingly, this is a higher percentage than even clients who come in two-three times per year. Another type of presentation that should have a high closing ratio (80 percent) is the appointment.

The more money the item costs, the easier it is to close it. A $500 item is harder to close than a $5,000 item and so on. Why? Because the client can. Never decide for the client how much they can spend. Let them decide that. Do not do price presentations.

Owners, track clients coming in with a door counter and see how many sales slips are written up. This will tell you your closing ratio, which is the most important number in your entire company. You’ll also learn what your team is doing. Ultimately, your store’s closing ratio should be 50 percent or more.

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