By Brad Huisken
Whether you manage a jewellery store or sell jewellery, having knowledge and knowing how to use it are critical. As an owner or manager, your first priority is to create an environment of personal growth and development, which can help your store succeed. In other words, surround yourself with people who constantly want to improve, and give them everything they need to be successful.
By that, I mean provide the necessary leadership, knowledge, training, incentives, and consequences to recruit, hire, develop, and maintain successful salespeople.
I could write a book just on that sentence, but look at each word and think about how it applies to you and your business. Possessing useful knowledge takes constant effort—no one will ever know everything there is to know. However, in order to make the most of your sales staff, training must be consistent and ongoing. I have often said that sales training doesn’t work when it is an event. Instead, it must be viewed as a continuing process. To instill change in any organization, I believe you have to make the change itself a policy. Train your staff on how to fulfil the policy, and be clear on what it means when they succeed in their efforts. In other words, change within an organization requires policy, training, and incentives.
The same is true with consequences. When an employee has received training on a particular policy (read change), has shown he or she can adhere to it, and yet doesn’t follow through or chooses not to, other changes need to be made, including replacing the salesperson.
Hitting the mark
As an owner or sales manager, you are in the business of hiring and training people. I don’t think people can ever be fully trained simply because the world and the jewellery industry are changing at a very rapid pace. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. A business owner works toward objectives (i.e. goals and statistics), which employees are held accountable to produce. They must maintain at least a minimum level of performance and be rewarded when they exceed expectations.
It is only through the consistent application of solid business principles that a company will grow and reach its maximum potential. The five silver bullets discussed further on in this article are what I see as solid business principles when it comes to personnel working within a store. Keep in mind, however, that implementing any of these business principles cannot be done from the inside of an office. Instead, great sales managers, owners, and coaches have to be where the action is: on the floor. Doing so allows you to listen in on sales presentations, observe people doing things both right and wrong, as well as offer positive praise and solid coaching when appropriate and required. When it comes to standards, these are things that will leave enduring first and last impressions on clients.
The five silver bullets for productivity improvement are:
- training and coaching (i.e. training checklists and reviews);
- non-negotiable sales and customer service standards;
- accountability; and
- a training process.
There are four basic areas where jewellery salespeople need to be knowledgeable and therefore require training to perform their job responsibilities. Imagine an automobile with four tires. Should one of the tires be low on air or flat, the automobile will not run efficiently. The same is true in sales; when one of these four areas is weak, the sales associate is unable to reach his or her full potential.
No doubt, customers expect salespeople to be the experts, and I am quite sure most professional salespeople want that themselves. Therefore, staff must do everything within reason to constantly increase their skills, abilities, and thus knowledge.
For example, they can read trade publications, talk to various merchandise representatives, do research on the Internet, or talk to colleagues who may have expertise in a specific area. One of the biggest problems I see at the retail level is too many salespeople learn just what it takes to get by. Instead, be something different—be extraordinary, and go above and beyond. Knowledge is the key to success, not only in selling jewellery, but in all aspects of life as well. Let’s look at each area separately.