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Shane Decker

Shane Decker: Like a Rock

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When that inevitable stare-down over prices occurs, don’t blink, says Shane Decker.

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Like a Rock

“All my customers care about is price.” Sound familiar? In all my years of working with jewelers, I don’t think I’ve heard a more commonly-used excuse for low sales, or low profitability, or both. “But Shane, you don’t understand. In our market…” You can stop right there, I’ve already heard it. And I don’t buy it. People everywhere have gotten used to the idea that they can negotiate the price of jewelry. Why? Because we jewelers gave them that notion!

Let the car dealers cope with the stress and worry of plummeting profit levels. So many jewelers worry about their competitor’s year-round “sale,” or their own staff’s inability to sell, that they authorize their salespeople to give a 10% discount (or more!) at the customer’s first sign of distress. But you are losing hundreds or even thousands of dollars when you do. What’s more, that customer will now expect a discount every time he walks through your door!

It doesn’t have to be that way. Let the car dealers cope with the stress and worry of plummeting profit levels. You can be holding firm on your prices and still close more sales. How? By offering your customer options.

Let me explain. Say you’ve gone through the entire anatomy of the sale — you’ve romanced the product, you’ve asked the right questions, you’ve educated the customer when needed — and now you’re ready for the close. But his response to your one-carat diamond for $6,950 is “That’s a lot of money.” Rather than panic and negotiate on price, imagine that you had answered in the following manner:

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You: “Sir, how much were you wanting to spend?”

Him: “I don’t know, but that’s just a lot of money.”

You: “Well, this diamond is $6,950, but what we can do is take out this carat diamond and put a half-carat in for $3,950.”

Him: “No, I don’t want a half-carat. I’ve got about $4,900 to spend on a one-carat diamond.”

You: “Well, we can put in a diamond with lower clarity or color, and you’ll still have a one-carat.”

Him: “No, no, that’s the diamond I want.”

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You: “Sir, this one is $6,950.”

Now, what have you done? You’ve proven the value of the diamond and maintained your integrity of price. You gave your customer options to meet his price demands. And, you found out that he really wants that diamond. The next time this customer comes in, he will know not to negotiate — your prices are as rock-solid as they can possibly be. This builds trust, and helps you to establish a personal trade. You maintain your price and profitability, and yet you still close customers because you give them options. In other words, you let them choose what’s more important to them: price, size, or quality.

[inset side=left]The customer is usually willing to spend double whatever he tells you, so don’t even ask.[/inset]This is not to say that you should begin your presentation by asking a customer how much he is planning to spend. In fact, that’s a cardinal sin of selling. The customer is usually willing to spend double whatever he tells you, so don’t even ask. Furthermore, if he’s with his girlfriend or wife, it could embarrass him to give you a price range. You should only broach this subject if he says, “That’s more than I wanted to spend.” Or, if the sale is going great but he rejects your close, you can ask him if he’s comfortable with the price. However, the best strategy is to head this off at the pass by asking the right questions throughout your presentation regarding size, shape, clarity, and color. His answers should tell you where to go on price.

So what’s it going to be? Continue to cave in to customers as you helplessly watch profits dwindle? Or stand up for the integrity of your store and your prices? Let your customer know there’s no wiggle room, but give him the options he needs. He’ll leave feeling great about the value of the jewelry he bought, you’ll have a new customer for life, and your bottom line will look a whole lot cushier.

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.

This story is from the November 2004 edition of INSTORE.

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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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