Because your sales associates are one of your best means of establishing your store’s reputation and making sales, you have to invest time, money and energy in them. For diamond retailers, its particularly important to get your sales team on track because the stakes are so high to the customer, and each diamond jewelry purchase is fundamentally wrapped up in their dreams. Every salesperson encountered on the way to concretizing those dreams has the responsibility to enhance the customer’s experience and improve the sale.
What it Takes to Be a Star Associate
Some of the traits that make a sales associate successful are innate and some are learned. Even natural abilites can be improved upon. Look for sales associates that have the following skills and qualities, or teach them how to harness them:
- Listening skills. Hone the listening skills. Asking open-ended questions and listening carefully to the customer's responses will help you and your sales team determine what the customer truly wants and make the sale. It should be noted if the customer is window shopping, actively searching for a particular piece of diamond jewelry, or ready to make a purchase. Sales members should determine the occasion for the customers' purchase, and whether they are buying for themselves or for others, and then learn and apply their priorities, whether it's the design of the jewelry, the size of the diamond, the overall cost, the ability to impress someone else with their purchase, or something else.
- People skills. Your sales team needs to recognize that every person who enters your diamond jewelry store is a potential customer and approach each one conscientiously with a smile and eye contact. Potential customers should not be dismissed based on attitude or attire (think Pretty Women), and you may make sales that surprise you. According to this article, "Sales associates not only must be skilled at dealing with 'difficult' customers. They must also be able to make customers feel welcome and valued in the retail environment. Advanced interpersonal skills can make a good sales associate even better."
- Passion for the product. When you and your sales associates truly care about the diamond jewelry products you sell and the people you sell them to, you sell better, with greater enthusiasm, and with higher levels of personal expertise. Star associates will use that passion to help select the diamond jewelry pieces that customers truly want. To know whether you are using passion as a sales tool, Mark Hunter recommends asking yourself this question, "When the day is over and my customers are reflecting back on the people with whom they’ve interacted and the activities they’ve done, do they think of me in a positive light that contributed to them having a good day?” If so, they felt your passion.
- Professionalism. It goes without saying that proper dress, grooming, etiquette, mannerisms and politeness all play a role in good rapport with customers. When customers walk into a diamond jewelry store, their first impression of the store is largely based on the image your salespeople project. Your sales team should offer a friendly "hello," look professional and convey a helpful attitude. They should encourage browsing and engage the customers, while refraining from being pushy. Granting your customers appropriate space is an excellent means of drawing them in for a sale.
- Ditch the "always be closing" (ABC) techniques. The Retail Doctor, Bob Phibbs, says "Giving customers what they want and getting what you want are not mutually exclusive goals. No one has to lose. Customers want a quality product and a memorable experience; the salesperson wants to get the sale." He explains that to do this, you must connect with the customer, connect the customer with the product and connect the product to additional value.
6 Ways to Create the Best Sales Team
Use these tips to make sure that your sales associates are the exceptional component of your diamond jewelry store that solidifies your customers’ experience, and has them turning to you for repeat business:
- Involve your staff in your PR. It's amazing how many diamond jewelry stores overlook this point. Hold regular meetings to inform your employees about any promotions that are being made public, or any featured advertisements, and make sure that they understand all of the details well enough to answer any question a customer might ask.
- Involve your staff in your success. When you meet targets, acknowledge your staff's contributions to the success, whether through bonuses, publicity, or even a staff party – all of which help turn staff members into active, responsible participants with a desire to do even better.
- Give your staff generous discounts and referral bonuses. Enabling your sales associates to buy from you and wear your diamond jewelry makes them walking display cases – your best in-store advertisement. If you can also find other ways to encourage your staff to create a buzz and get more referrals for your business, it's a win-win for all.
- Give your salespeople personal business cards. Encourage your staff to give business cards out to both customers and the people they encounter outside of the store. They become ambassadors for you, and also more personally invested in the store’s success.
- Promote professional advancement for your staff. Encourage your sales associates to read the trade magazines and the fashion pages. Let them go to tradeshows, sign them up for classes, find the right blogs for them to follow, and make sure in every way you can that they are abreast of diamond trends and designs. Knowlege is power. Sales power.
- Create an environment of excitement. When your staff is enthusiastic about your products, they will exude that enthusiasm to the customers. Give them advance notice of new designs and new ideas so that they can help generate that excitement. Ask them for suggestions on how to keep it exciting. Let them inform you on what customers want. Your sales team is your very own reconnaissance team that can give you insights into the minds of your target market.
By recognising the value of your sales team and investing in them actively, you can create the strongest asset for your diamond jewelery store. They represent you, your company and your brand and have the closest connection to your customers. Be sure to empower, encourage and educate, because happy sales associates means happy customers. Hopefully lots of them.