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Why bosses could do with some training

If sales are disappointing and there is older stock that is proving hard to move, could it be that you, the boss, are not doing things properly? LEONARD ZELL asks the question in a characteristically provocative column about training and sales tactics.


Leonard Zell
Leonard Zell

When I ask bosses how their business is going, I so often hear: “OK”, “quite good”, “we had some increases.” Or even: “We were happy with what we got.” When I ask them what percentage increase in sales they achieved, they would either hedge or meekly say 5% or 10%. Once in awhile I hear 15%.

Some bosses will claim they bought special promotion pieces that were good buys and they sold well. When I reply that your old jewellery still remained and is now at least two years old and could cost you as much as 10% a year to carry, they realise that can really eat into your bottom line. This is how you should have handled the promotion. Discount your own jewellery where it is at least two years old and hire a proven jewellery sales trainer who knows how to teach add-on sales and how to sell the older jewellery with a bit of romance. With an investment in sales training you would not have to invest in more inventory for a promotion.

Yes, you bosses could use some lessons. Your promotions got your customer into the store and in the mood to buy, but your salespeople were not in the mood to sell and shoved the customer out the door after the first sale. They closed the first sale and then said: “Thank you, have a nice day,” and let the customer go. What bosses are not aware of is that your salespeople warmed up your customers and put them in a mood to buy at another store and it may not be jewellery. These are two stories that could have happened to you.

They closed the first sale and then said: “Thank you, have a nice day,” and let the customer go.

A manager, who we’ll call Jerry, once told me this story when I was teaching add-on sales. “A customer bought an anniversary ring from him for $5,000. He thought it was a great sale, closed it and wished the customer a happy anniversary. About an hour later the customer returned with a mink coat and said it cost him $15,000 because he wanted to get something besides the ring to surprise her. He asked me to undo the gift wrapping, take the ring out of the box and put it into an envelope. He will put it into a pocket of the mink coat and when his wife puts her hand in there, “Oh boy, will  she be surprised?” The manager said that he let $15,000 walk out the door. I told him it the damage may in fact have been much worse than that.

The sales assistant at the fur coat shop probably clerked the sale and sold him the first coat  the customer looked at because he was in a ready mood to buy thanks to your earlier efforts. That customer probably could have been easily sold a mink coat for $20,000 – $30,000. Jerry agreed.

To find out if you, the boss, need some lessons, ask yourself these questions:

When was the last time I saw my salespeople…

  • Greet customers the same way they would a friend in their home with a big smile and lots of enthusiasm?
  • Smile and talk with enthusiasm during the sale? (Isn’t that what motivates your customers to buy?)
  • Introduce themselves to a customer and remember their name at the end of the sale and a few days later when they return to pick up the ring?
  • Reach for one of the most expensive pieces of jewellery (when the customer does not state a budget), and romance it instead of just taking out something medium priced and saying, “What do you think of this, isn’t this beautiful?”
  • Create a sale after selling a watch battery or a jewellery repair?
  • Try to create a sale after a challenging remark like: “Just looking”?
  • Either me or my manager cut in on a sale to save it, or just let the customer walk out the door?
  • Call their customer before their special occasion?
  • Actually close a sale in a relatively short period of time instead of taking an hour of show and tell, or give a lengthy explanation of the four Cs waiting for the customer to close the sale?

WHO NEEDS TRAINING?

If you bosses have not seen most of these happen in your store, you need some learning and this means sales training. Be careful how you select a sales trainer. Have him role play several situations with you, demonstrating the answers to those questions by him playing the salesperson. Most store owners get upset at their salespeople because they do not use these techniques or others they tell them about. The reason they do not respond is that you never tell them exactly how to do the sales technique. Salespeople need detailed guidance and that guidance must come from you. If not, you must bring someone in from the outside, a professional jewellery sales trainer to teach you and your salespeople.

Be careful how you select a sales trainer. Have him role play several situations with you, demonstrating the answers to those questions by him playing the salesperson.

Now let’s discuss how you should go about it, and why you haven’t done it so far.  What are some of the reasons why you never get around to sales training?

  1. You didn’t know how to go about it
  2. You haven’t the time or patience
  3. You don’t know how to delegate so you have the time
  4. Your manager shows no interest
  5. Your salespeople won’t do much with it anyway – they’ll just go back to their old ways
  6.  It’s probably too much money

Here are some questions and answers for you bosses:

When you do sales training, do you do it correctly? Probably not. You think the Saturday morning meeting is adequate without any further training or follow up the rest of the week. Because of this, the retention rate is almost nil. The best technique for retention is role playing.

Are you the best-qualified person qualified to train and follow up after a sales seminar?  Perhaps, but many owners haven’t been behind the counter for years, and have no desire to be. In that time you may have forgotten a lot. It may be better to delegate the training to your manager. After all isn’t that what you pay him for?

Is this all worth it? You bet it is. This is something you bosses should have done all along.  Make an investment in your salespeople first instead of inventory. With sales training, you get your investment back starting right away, and it keeps on paying. With inventory, you have to wait a year to get your return.

What is your reward?   

  • Increased sales of more than 10% and as much as 25%
  • Your salespeople selling more because you rewarded with a commission on every sale
  • A large return on your investment
  • The excitement of your salespeople making sales they tell you they never could before
  • Almost no employee turnover

The ball is in your court.

About Leonard Zell

Michael Northcott
Michael is the editor of Jewellery Focus magazine. He draws from experience at a wide range of B2B magazines, including Management Today, Legal Business, Retail Week and Hotel Owner. Feel free to drop him a line with any stories or feature ideas.

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