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Selling Advice: Selling during Christmas

Leonard Zell explains the dos and don'ts of selling during the holiday period

Golden selling opportunities are missed during the holiday season because it is too easy to sell. In fact, how much actual selling will you see? Not much because in December, some store owners think all they need are warm bodies to take care of the traffic.  “Get those part timers” they’ll say, “Anyone can sell in December.” Part time salespeople are fine if they have worked in your store before because they know your merchandise, policies and  customers. They won’t make those costly mistakes as new part timers are certain to do. I have had more jewelers tell me that was one of their biggest mistakes. They cannot police these less experienced salespeople and restrict them to selling inexpensive jewelry.  Customers don’t want to hear during the holidays, “That’s not my department. There is no time to train these part timers if they are hired and it starts getting busy.

What do you do when they wait on a potential £5,000 diamond customer and lose the sale?  My students told me of many horror stories about this happening. Their store owner becomes frustrated, but never does anything to correct the situation.  They think they are saving money by hiring inexperienced part timers and then make the same mistake the following year. Just think of the negative effect this has on the rest of the sales staff.  They see these part timers refusing to turn over sales and then proceed to lose them. Store owners who permit this would be shocked if they knew how much money has walked out of their stores.

So what should you do?  First, get more productivity out of your present sales staff.  I am not talking about quotas because in most cases quotas are more threatening than motivating.  Store owners are big on giving out quotas and then never telling their salespeople how to attain them.  In many cases they don’t even know themselves. All they have to do is observe their salespeople and see how much time they spend with their customers. It is usually way too much. They are taking anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour or more. If owners think these bad habits will stop when it gets busy they are dreaming.  

They will still see these same salespeople taking forever to explain the  4c’s, go into show and tell showing piece after piece of jewellery and talk about subjects not related to jewelry or the occasion, right up to December 24!

Owners must ask themselves this question, how long can salespeople talk about one piece of jewelry?  Eventually they stop, but instead of knowing when and how to close the sale they begin showing almost everything in the store.

Listen for  non jewelry related conversations.They will take up to a half hour or more of valuable time.  Why? Because they don’t want to look too pushy so they talk about the weather, sports, travel, or trying to find something they may have in common with their customers.heir excuse is, “I thought it was about time to get to know my customer and get their trust before begin selling them again.

This is nothing more then an  apology from the salesperson because they thought they may have been too pushy and are not getting any positive vibes from their customer.

When you hear this I recommend you ask them, “What are your customer’s names?” They won’t have an answer. Ask them, “How can your customers trust you if they don’t know who you are?  You aren’t selling grapefruits in a grocery store. You are selling the most emotional item in the world, jewellery, especially diamond jewellery and have chosen to stay anonymous.  Why would they trust you? The light will dawn and then you can show them by example how to shorten the sale.

Non jewellery conversations create another problem. Salespeople have no idea how to bring their customer back to converse about jewellery without sounding contrived.  Don’t get me wrong, it is fine to spend all that time with a customer, if the salesperson is creating add-on sales, but why all that time for one sale?  A word of warning. The longer it takes to close a sale the odds are against your salespeople closing it. Worse yet add-on sales are rarely attempted after a sale takes more than a half hour on the first sale.  They feel so thankful they finally made that sale, they don’t want to start over. Those are a lot of ££££ walking out your door.

If you store owners allow this wasteful use of time in your stores, you will have no choice but to hire more salespeople than necessary during the holidays.  You should ask yourself this question, how come my salespeople are not closing more add-on sales? I teach my students as soon as a customer comes into their store their meter is running and they must make good use of their time.  I recommend you tell this to your salespeople and pass on these other valuable Zelling tips:

Stop one upping customers, let them have the last word. Avoid playing, “Can you top this.”  A customer says, “We had a wonderful dinner last night at Armondos.”  The salesperson says, “Oh! The next time you should try Angelos, they are known for their fine Italian food.”  Then the customer one ups them and it goes on and on. To stop this ask your salespeople this question, “Why do you find it easy selling a fine Italian restaurant, but have trouble selling jewellery?”  The answer you may get is, “Oh, I really wasn’t selling it I was just telling them about it.” Your answer could be, “OK, then tell them about our jewellery with the same enthusiasm.”

Take control of the sale and have them stop the customer dragging you from one counter to another or from ring to ring.  You are allowing yourself to be controlled by your customer and you are now into show and tell.Cool their ego, stop showing off their technical expertise by voluntarily telling all they know about the 4 c’s.  All this does is bore their customers, stalls the close and suppresses their emotion to buy. The only ego that counts during a sale is your customer’s.

Watch out for subtle closing signals from your customer and start closing the sale.  If they don’t they will be there forever.The add-on sale is easier than the first sale.  If they want to spend all that extra time with your customers I recommend you make their time more productive by creating add-on sales.Stay up front instead of at the back of your store.  This means both you and your manager, especially this time of the year.  Otherwise neither of you will know what is really going on. You will miss the sales that are leaking out of your store.  You also won’t be there to help stop it and assist your salespeople in closing their sales.

After you implement the training of these six principles of selling fine jewelry  you will know how many extra salespeople you will really need during the Christmas season.  Here is another good Zelling tip. Hire untrained part time salespeople, who have a smile and enthusiasm, before you actually need them.  This will allow you the time for training. It is not fair to part timers to let them fend for themselves, make a disastrous mistake and then criticize them.  

If this happens, they will not be worth much to you or themselves.  Instead I recommend you plan for the future. Have the foresight to invest in training your part time salespeople.  Now they are valuable salespeople and you can have them come back every December as well as other busy times throughout the year. Your investment will come back to you many times over and so will your bottom line.

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