The jewelry industry has changed a lot since the emergence of the internet and especially through the last few years of financial hardship. Honestly, it's not just the jewelry industry, but all retail sectors. Technology has helped revolutionize customer service, and even more importantly, customer expectations in other sectors.
In an effort to help the jewelry industry better understand how to keep up with important changes, the theme of the 2015 JCK Las Vegas education program was "Redesigning Retail."
The JCK Talks opened with the following industry experts sharing one of their best strategies to help jewelers service today's smart consumer.
Here are my notes from the seminar...
Peter Smith is the author of the book Hiring Squirrels: 12 Essential Interview Questions to Uncover Great Retail Sales Talent
There's a dilemma and a challenge when hiring retail sales people, in that, do you hire people who know the basic sales knowledge and teach them what's easy to teach and specifically important for your business, or do you hire someone who is not good at sales and hope to teach them.
From 2007 - 2011, he conducted a study of 700 full time, experienced, retail jewelry sales professionals. The results revealed that 58% of the 700 participants should not be in any retail job whatsoever.
The trouble with hiring people is that within 1/10th of a second we develop a bias for people we meet. If we like the person, then we only listen to the good stuff we hear during the interview. If we don't like the person, we only hear the bad stuff they say during the interview.
It turns out that great sales people always have baggage that we won't like. Try to overlook the baggage in order to find the right person to hire. You should look for drive and energy, people with empathy, and people with resilience that can't be deterred by people saying no.
Shane Decker, Ex-Sell-Ence Sales Academy
Shane explained that stores spend a lot of money on design, merchandising, and advertising but not on employee training. Most customer experiences are not very good; in fact, he further explained that customers will decide within the first 30 seconds if they will give you their money.
How often do you have sales meetings? Your number one priority should be your client, and your number one asset should be your sales team. Your team will control how much money you make and how high your closing ratio is.
Shane explained that it's wrong to allow your sales associates to be category smart instead of training them to be walking encyclopedias for every product you've got. Most sales people can't handle objections with speed and accuracy.
You need to train your employees in product knowledge, the different closing methods, and you have to provide them with recognition of their work.
Performance Concepts by Kate Peterson provides training and education focused on the needs of the luxury market.
"If you want to think about training your staff effectively, the first thing you need to do is forget about everything you've ever learned about training your staff; because it's all different now."
E-learning is not only the way of the future; it's also the way of the present. E-learning increases retention by up to 60%. E-learning is more than just reading a book online, it's about interactive learning.
Once you hire the right person on your sales staff, you will lose that person within the first year unless you have the right training. Unfortunately, in the jewelry industry, if you don't lose them during that first year, they tend to stay for 25.
One of the biggest objections Kate hears about training is "What if I train them and they leave?" Her point of view is "What if you don't train them and they stay?"
The people coming into the workplace now are looking for more than a paycheck. They are looking for opportunity to better themselves and their craft.
David Brown, President, Edge Retail Academy
You need to know how to communicate your expectations to your team. David keeps an open policy in his company to communicate all goals and aspirations, right down to the bottom line.
Unless you communicate everything to your staff, they will think you are making a fortune. When they see days with big sales they will automatically assume that all that money is profit. They need to understand how that money is used to make the business run.
Once they understand how sales cover the cost of making the business run, they will understand better how all those 10% customer discounts create financial hardship in the company.
People buy from people they respect and trust. If you don't offer the same respect and trust to your own team, then they won't work well for you. Customers can't have an extraordinary experience in your store until your employees are working together in a give and take respect and trust between you.
Many business owners have excuses that they can't hold employee meetings because everyone works a different schedule. That's just an excuse. If you want a successful business then you need to set goals and reasons for a meeting, then hold those strategy meetings before the work day begins.
Diane Warga-Arias, DWA Communications
Whatever else you provide sales associates to learn, think of them exactly the same as you think of your customers. We all want our customers to be advocates for our brands, but we can't develop excited advocates unless that excitement begins with an enthusiastic sales associate.
If you can't excite your sales associate then it will be a pretty quiet day in your store and on your e-commerce site.
Entrepreneurs often ask me for help improving their business. Although they are willing to spend the time and money to learn better things from me, they are unwilling to provide training to their employees.
Instead of being forceful with employees and showing how to make improvements, they often resort to passive-aggressive methods of attempted sales training. I've also had retail store owners tell me that they can't train their employees for a new approach because the old ways have been done for so many years, and no one will want to change.
My point of view is that, if your employees are not willing to change to improve the business, then you need to start fresh by changing your employees.
Employee training costs are high, but they are much lower than the business lost by untrained employees. Additionally, you need to realize that employee training is not a one and done event. You need to keep your employees updated with the latest techniques, product knowledge, and even refresh their training every year.