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Articles from EDUCATION / TRAINING (185 Articles)

Fixing the leaks in your sales pipeline

In periods of slow trading, it’s more important than ever for jewellery store owners and managers to ‘save’ sales. How to ask for help in closing a sale – and how to give it – is something that all sales staff and managers should be a key priority in retail training, says LEONARD ZELL.

As a store owner or manager, do you know how many sales leak from your store each day because staff couldn’t close a sale?

It’s one thing for sales leakage to occur in extremely busy times like December, but it’s inexcusable in slow periods when every sale counts.

Ask yourself how much of a difference it can make if just one important diamond sale can be ‘saved’ each month? In fact, how easy is it to help close a sale that is about to be lost?

Let’s see if we can put this into a financial situation. For simplicity, let’s assume that a store trades six days a week – that would equate to say around 300 days a year, give or take.

I would suggest that a proficient manager could help close two or three sales a day, but if you want to be more conservative you can assume just one or two quality sales per day.

If we assume that the quality sale is at an average of $250, then that can add $75,000 in saved sales a year at the rate of one ‘saved sale’ per day.

Many owners probably don’t know this because they’re not on the sales floor as much as they should be. They are involved in the operations of the store and have delegated the responsibility to their store manager.

Even when owners are on the sales floor, they see sales people give up on customers, letting them leave the store without attempting to assist to close the sale.

When you ask your salespeople why they didn’t ask you for assistance, the answer is usually, “I tried everything and they thanked me and said they will be back.” How many times have you heard that?

But it is the responsibility of a store owner to create a culture where no-one is embarrassed about saving or assisting with a sale.

Teach your sales people the following:

•  How to recognise when a sale is being lost;
•  To ask for assistance before it’s too late;
•  What to say when asking you, or the store manager, for assistance.

Identifying a failing sale

If the customer starts showing a lack of interest, indecision, lack of enthusiasm or is pushing away from the counter, it’s time for the sales person to ask for assistance.

However, there should be procedures in place to identify the right time to seek assistance and it should be before the salesperson has shown the customer everything in the store.

Store owners have the responsibility to save sales, while staff should not be embarrassed about seeking assistance to close a sale.

Owners and managers should be on the sales floor as much as possible and not always in the back office area.

Preferably, and especially in busy periods, owners and managers should be ‘within earshot’ of sales staff.

An owner or manager who spends most of their time in the back cannot easily assist sales staff, or save sales if they cannot see or hear interaction with customers.

It’s their responsibility to recognise when a sale is in jeopardy and should be prepared to wait for the appropriate time to step in.

Usually, the signs are evident after the customers has been shown the first few pieces of jewellery.

Salespeople have pride just like everyone else and don’t like to admit they’re losing their customer so early in a sale. They will often just keep showing jewellery in the hope the customer will say, “That’s the one I like. Wrap it up.”

Your sales staff might be concerned about losing their commission or pride, or both. It needn’t be like that because in the majority of cases all the sales person needs is assistance.

Assisting sales staff

There are good and bad ways to introduce another staff member into the sale’s dialogue, so here’s a suggestion for how it can be done.

Let’s call the sales person Steve and the customer Mike Larson. You, the store manager, are John Smith.

Steve: “Mr Larson, let me bring John over – he always has some great ideas.” (Pause to let your customer reply.)

Customer: “Fine.”

Steve:  “John, this is Mike Larson.” (You must pause for John to introduce himself.)

John: “I’m John Smith. It’s nice to meet you.”

Steve:  “John, I showed Mike these three diamond rings over here and also this one. He wanted something a little larger and with more flair. He is also concerned about price as he’s been shopping around.” (Pause, let John talk)

John: “Mike, I have something I would like to show you. In fact it just came in and I haven’t even had a chance to show
it to Steve. I am sure he would have shown it to you.” (John must pause so Steve can exit)

Steve:  “John, please continue. Mike, John’s our store manager so you’re in good hands and I’ll be nearby if you need anything else.”

There is an exception when the salesperson should not leave, and that is, if the customer is a friend or relative. However, it is up to him to tell the manager that by saying, “Mike is a good friend of mine,” or “Mike is my brother-in-law.”

That way the manager will stay just long enough to help, and then leave. However, he can come back periodically to assist, providing he doesn’t stay too long. Two salespeople serving one customer is just a little too much!

Now, let’s discuss this dialogue. The pauses are important – when sales people find themselves in difficult situations, they sometimes panic and talk too fast.

The word ‘manager’ should be an after thought, said just before, “I’ll be nearby.” Identifying someone as the manager adds power and shows respect, but if a salesperson says it upfront, it puts them down and virtually makes it impractical for the manager to turn that sale back to the salesperson to write it up.

It is also important that the salesperson brings the manager up to date as to what has been shown to the customer.
If this is not done, the manager could embarrass him or herself and show the same merchandise or – worse yet – contradict the salesperson.

If we assume that the quality sale is at an average of $250, then that can add $75,000 in saved sales a year at the rate of one ‘saved sale’ per day.”

Therefore, the salesperson must tell the manager of any negative comments – but not in a negative way. For instance, the customer might have commented, “I think I can get it cheaper at some other place.”

That could be rephrased as, “Jim is concerned about price and has been shopping around.”

If the salesperson forgets to bring the manager up to date, then he must ask, “What have you shown Jim so far?” However, it should rarely come to that. The reason for saying, “I’ll be nearby,” is because the salesperson should actually be nearby and listen in to hear how the sale is saved.

This is one of the best ways of learning – that is how I learnt from my father. Never run away after turning over a sale unless you must serve another customer. My advice to salespeople is to begin cleaning jewellery pieces in a case nearby.

That way, your presence will not be intimidating. Since you said you will be nearby, your customer will be comfortable with you being there as long as you remain busy and occupied.

Also, saying “I’ll be nearby” elevates the salesperson and enables them to maintain their pride, which is important. There’s a bonus in this approach; it makes it easier for the manager to show his respect for the salesperson by calling him back into the now successful sale.

Manager John could say, “Steve, Mr Larson has selected this ruby and diamond ring. Please take care of it. He would like to have it gift wrapped as an anniversary gift.”

By using this process, the next time Mr Larson visits the store, the relationship is between him and salesperson Steve.

Closing thoughts

Store owners should create a culture where the salesperson does not always have to leave the customer – only if he or she feels they are ‘in over their head’.

By following these guidelines, the customer will still ‘belong to’ the salesperson even if they did end up feeling out of their depth.

Successful store owners and managers recognise that there’s not always an ideal personality match between a salesperson and every customer, but there is more reason than ever to save a sale in difficult times.

Procedures on how to do that should be communicated to all staff so that everyone is on the same page.

The bonus is not only does the manager save those sales, but if handled correctly, those sales should become repeat customers because most customers do not return when a sale is not closed.

The best news is that this increased turnover comes at no cost.

Leonard Zell


Leonard Zell has been training fine jewellers throughout the world for twenty-five years. Visit: or email


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