The State of Training, Part 2

 

July 1998

Managing:Diamonds

The State of Training, Part 2

Part 1 of this article (see Professional Jeweler,June 1998, p. 159 focused on the need to advance diamond sales training from event-centered activities (such as seminars) to day-to-day training. This month we meet two managers who use training to meet double-digit sales growth goals

by Diane Warga-Arias

A seminar at the American Gem Society Conclave earlier this year challenged jewelers to use consistent and specific training to increase diamond sales. David Rotenberg and B. Harton Wolf took up the challenge and have enjoyed remarkable results.

Rotenberg bought a real "show stopper" diamond – a 1-ct., E color, Ideal Cut – for his store, David Craig Jewelers in Langhorne, PA. Following the key strategy from a seminar titled "How To Sell Better Quality Diamonds," Rotenberg used this diamond to help demonstrate the concept of rarity to his staff.

Not only did the staff become adept at showing the diamond and selling quality, they sold the show stopper! In fact, Rotenberg is selling so many better-quality diamonds that he now keeps several "show stoppers" in stock.

Education
Rotenberg also has changed the way he delivers training. Instead of the more structured use of seminars and training sessions, he holds each sales associate accountable for his or her own learning.

He set up a library – a case of materials placed in the rear of the sales floor – for sales associates to use daily. The library contains all Diamond Promotion Service programs, articles from the trade press and a variety of product and sales training literature.

Sales associates are rewarded on a point system for learning, customer service and sales.

The switch from an education program with a specified beginning and end to an on-going educational forum has brought about change for the sales associates. They're training each other – one associate learns something, another overhears it and shares it with someone else. The associates are more self- motivated and enthusiastic and are discovering how much fun learning can be, he says.

The company's goal is to have customers banging down the doors, and training is the foundation of this mission, he says.

Tuning in to Customers
Diamond sales have taken off at Schwarzschild Jewelers in Richmond, VA, since the staff started to focus on "connecting," says Wolf.

Connecting with customers, which is a DPS key selling strategy, is more than simply building rapport or making small talk. It involves teaching sales associates everything they need to know to make the sale, including tuning into what the customer is really saying at the sales counter.

Providing the customer with the "diamond moment" is the second key selling strategy that Schwarzschild has embraced. The customer wants a certain experience from buying jewelry, and it's up to the sales associate to provide that experience. They should focus not just on making a sale, but also on satisfying the customer. In fact, making sure that customers experience a memorable "diamond moment" is at the center of a new incentive program at Schwarzschild Jewelers.

The staff also discusses sales made or lost, including how to handle the situation better next time. This on-going discussion helps everyone practice and strengthen their skills.

In Conclusion
Training clearly is a retailer's strongest management strategy for increasing diamond sales. Managers need to identify which learning goals will help to reach their sales goals. And they need training materials designed with the flexibility that allows training to be everyday business.

Once the learning goals have been identified and the learning programs provided, managers must remember to hold associates accountable for their learning.

Diane Warga-Arias is education director for the Diamond Promotion Service.






Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


 

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