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First, let’s look at some facts about salespeople.

1 – The saying “good salespeople are born salespeople” is akin to saying good brain surgeons are born good brain surgeons.  Over the years I have analyzed the performance of thousands of jewelry salespeople and can say that I have come across less than a handful who I could say are a "born" salesperson.  Most salespeople acquire their sales techniques, both good and bad.  Unlike salespeople, brain surgeons don’t acquire their skills but are highly trained.

2 - No two people are born equal. You only need to look at the results of each of your salespeople to confirm this statement.

3 – Product knowledge is important but sales skills are vital, and yet we spend more time talking about products than how to sell.

4 – Most salespeople have an evolved sales technique.  They started in a shop and were told “fill the cash register up” along with a cursory talk about how the store operates, and from then on they watched others and this is how they learned to sell (boy, am I glad my doctor and dentist didn’t learn the same way).

5 - Selling is pure psychology.  The customer has a need and seeks to have that need fulfilled. Top salespeople do not sell products.  They determine what the customer’s need is, then fill that need.

6 - Ask all your salespeople if they are doing the best they can, and most will say “yes”.  If you can believe them, and you should be able to, then when you compare their performance you will need to ask yourself why one person can create twice as many sales as another.  The answer is simple. They are both doing the best they can.  It's just that one has better sales skills than the other.

7 – Salespeople often confuse product knowledge with sales skills.  This is a major failing.

8 – Salespeople often try and sell features but not benefits.  Only 10% of the population care about features (and that’s typically when buying electronics).  Everyone cares about benefits which translates to “what’s in it for me”.  Who cares how many times the piston in the new car goes up and down at 100Kph? Who cares if the seam of the jacket has 6 stitches to the inch compared to 5? Who cares if the diamond ring has 4 claws rather than five? These are all features of the product.   People do care about the benefits gained from these features. They care that the car gets twice the fuel economy (because of the slower piston speed).  They care the jacket will last twice as long due to the stitching.  They care that should the ring be knocked and a claw is bent back, that with a five claw setting the chances of losing the diamond is infinitesimal compared to a four claw setting.  Your salespeople have to be able to present benefits… not features, to become top salespeople.

9 – Many salespeople have the mistaken belief they exist to sell products and it’s this belief that costs them many sales.  First, they have to sell themselves (you don’t buy off someone who does not make you feel welcome nor comfortable when you walk into their store).  Then they need to sell the store (customers want to know they are in the right store, the store that will look after them) then and only then are customers receptive to buy the product.

Ok, so as a store owner, now that you have these facts what should you do?

Firstly, budget at least $1,000 per salesperson per year to devote to sales training and then plan the training.  I can tell you from documented experience that most money spent on sales training is repaid in extra sales within weeks, if not days.  It’s only a matter of replacing the evolved sales technique habits with a new set of habits called “the Planned Sales Technique”.

What is the “Planned Sales Technique”?  The “Planned Sales Technique” uses the 5 psychological stages we all go through when we buy something, be it a stick of gum or a new house.  In brief, these psychological stages are:-

1 - Attention

Something always gets our attention before we consider buying.  Typically in our industry, it’s an occasion (getting engaged, married, birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Mother’s / Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc. ) and to lesser degree attention is also driven by need (need to replace my lost watch). Unless something grabs our attention then we don’t spend money.  For the most part, the attention is created for us by the occasion or need.

2 - Interest

We all know we have occasions coming up, but what is required to get our interest? What we read, see, hear or feel impacts this second stage.  This is where advertising comes into play.  However, advertising does NOT sell.  It gets peoples interested.  Advertising only gets people through our door.  When we walk into a store it is 95% in the hands of the salesperson as to whether we purchase something or not in that store.  The other 5% is due to the store not having a product to satisfy our needs.  How often have you walked into a specialty store such as a clothing store, gift store, or a jewelry store and walked out without buying purely because the salesperson did not get, and hold, your interest?  They displayed a disinterested attitude in you and your needs.  You need to train your salespeople to show interest in the customer’s needs, not just try and sell products.  There is only one way to find out what interests the customer. Ask, ask, ask. Ask about the occasion, when is it coming up, who it involves, do they like gold or white metal, what price range do they have in mind? Too many sales are lost because salespeople assume they know what the customer wants.  I was in a store the other day when a salesperson directed a “just-looking” customer to the “new range of diamond pendants” (it had not occurred to the salesperson that ALL the items in the store were new to the customer) when in fact it turned out the customer was looking for a watch for her husband.  A sale was nearly lost.

Salespeople have a big impact on getting customers' interest.

Conviction

No, this does not mean we are going to jail.  It means we are convinced enough to buy the product that the salesperson got our interest in.  Their NEED has been satisfied.

Salespeople have a 100% impact on the customer being convinced.

Desire

Without desire, people will not buy.  The desire part is turning the NEED into a WANT. To do this salespeople have to learn how to associate the product with the occasion and how to bring the two together.  For example. “Can you see your daughter wearing this pendant to her 21st party?” or “Can you imagine proudly showing this ring off to your friends?”

When the salesperson builds the desire, it makes it easy to get a YES decision from the customer.

Decision

Once the customer has the desire, the salesperson has to stop selling and close the sale.

The Salesperson has better than 95% influence on the decision – one way or the other.

Now you understand the five psychological stages we all go through whenever we buy something, then it’s a matter of training your staff how to apply a planned sales technique which takes advantage of these psychological stages.

All the best with your training.

Malcolm Alderton.