Here’s to Hope!

I talk to hundreds of retailers on a regular basis, and it still amazes me how many are hoping the economy turns around. Hope and about two dollars will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

If you have a competitor or two in your town, you have an opportunity to increase sales and profit. If a competitor or two has gone out of business recently, you have an opportunity to increase sales and profit. The retail jewelry pie won’t get any bigger in the near future, but your slice can grow. But the days of the retail clerk are gone. The people working on your sales floor must be well-trained, professional retail salespersons.

What are you doing this year that’s considerably different from last year? What changes need to be made to ensure your business’s growth? From a sales and sales management perspective, it’s time to manage your business and your people based on factual, statistical information and sound business principles. It’s time to set goals, establish non-negotiable sales and customer service standards, and implement an ongoing, formal sales training and coaching program. It’s time to leave the ego at home and realize that maybe there’s a better way.

I have written in the past that the major reason retailers go out of business is because they’re managed based on opinions rather than statistics and facts. An opinion might be wrong; facts and statistics don’t lie.

For example, retail jewelry store owners spend a fortune to attract customers, yet many don’t know what happens to them once they’re in the store. The industry averages a 22 percent closing rate. What happens to the other 78 percent? Do salespeople capture their contact information and ask permission to follow up? Are customers who don’t buy turned over to another salesperson to give them a chance at the sale? Or are customers given a “get out of the store free” card (business card) and told, “Come back when you’re ready.” (Ouch!) The customer was ready, she was in your store, she wanted jewelry, yet something went wrong. Oh well—let’s hope she comes back!

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