The State of Training
The fine art of diamond selling should be taught as a daily part of
sales floor management. But a recent survey shows this is rarely the case
BY DIANE WARGA-ARIAS
No one would deny the American Gem Society comprises many prestigious,
ethical and extremely successful fine jewelers. The Diamond Promotion Service
was a proud sponsor of the 1998 AGS Conclave, and I was honored to be asked
to present a core management program titled "Managing for Increased
Diamond Sales" to more than 300 AGS members. The course explored management
strategies beyond the year 2000 and the role of training. Later, we investigated
the key strategies and applications in depth during several smaller follow-up
One owner/manager from each company was given a wireless keypad to use,
and the responses were integrated into the program to ensure its relevance.
The data we gathered at the event support my belief there is a significant
opportunity for sales growth in diamonds through increased training - even
among the best jewelers in our country.
Sales Managers as Sales Trainers
Our data showed 30% of participating AGS companies employ a full-time manager
responsible for sales floor management. But only 16% of these companies
assign training to this manager.
The fact that only half the sales floor managers have responsibility
for training tells me many jewelers need to better understand how training
can be part of day-to-day sales management.
There are countless training moments in the day-to-day work of selling
diamonds and diamond jewelry. Sales associates will be most open to learning
at the moment of need - on the sales floor.
Owners Can't Do Everything
Our data indicate 47% of the owners/ CEOs have taken personal responsibility
for delivering training. Keep in mind 44% of them are responsible also for
the management demands of the sales floor. In addition, the data show these
owners are responsible for overall fiscal management. Finances, merchandising,
sales floor management and training! It's not surprising these busy executives
face real life time crunches.
But additional feedback from our AGS survey clear shows they recognize
the importance of training and fit it in their schedule for the critically
important diamond area (see chart).
Primarily, these executives sponsor seminar events once or twice a year.
Once or Twice Is Not Enough
Diamond training should be a daily management strategy also. Managing a
diamond business for increased growth involves setting goals and delivering
performance. If every associate has a sales goal, and the goal is higher
every year, how are they supposed to keep growing their sales?
The answer is: by learning more. The more your sales associates learn
about selling strategies and their product, the better they can attract
customers and close sales. But training as a once- or twice-yearly "event"
has to evolve quickly into an everyday activity.
The world is changing fast. We are bombarded by more information in one
week than our grandparents encountered in their lifetimes. If learning isn't
a part of every job, the person doing that job will fall behind. There is
simply too much to know to wait until there is "time for training."
The role of owners/managers is to manage the training daily. In future articles,
we will discuss how some companies are getting double-digit growth in diamond
sales by making training an active management strategy - every day.
Diane Warga-Arias is director of education for the Diamond Promotion
Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.