The State of Training

June 1998

Managing:Diamonds

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 sessions.

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 Service.






Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


 

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