‘Expectations’: A Key to Sales

“How many sales are enough?” (April issue) was a great article. But two disturbing statistics stand out:

  1. Only 21% of those polled offer special training to non-producing employees. How else are they to improve?

  2. A full 37% wait a year before taking action to terminate an unproductive employee.

The word “expectations” does not appear in your article. People do better when they know what’s expected of them.

Expectations are what one needs to do to keep a job. They should be reasonable, measurable, and agreed to. If they’re not being met, it’s time to institute a program to raise that person’s productivity to the expected level.

The program should spell out the areas for improvement, the training required, a timetable for completion, and checkpoints – the expected level of performance at various points in the program. If, after all the special effort, expectations are not being met, it’s career decision time (termination).

Termination is much easier under these circumstances; you have the feeling that you’ve done all you can. Besides, unproductive employees damage morale. When it’s time to discuss performance (preferably quarterly), the first consideration should be productivity compared to expectations.

Goals are set in order to reach a higher level of productivity. Expectations are not goals but goals should, in time, become expectations. Quotas should be set only if some reward accompanies their attainment. They are neither expectations nor goals.

Littman Jewelers’ use of hourly “goals” is simply based on arithmetic: One typical day’s total sales are divided by hours worked to come up with a dollar-per-hour figure. This can be an innovative way to determine incentive pay:

$60 per hour = keep your job.

$60 – $90 an hour = 1% commission.

$90+ – $150 an hour = 2% commission.

$150+ per hour = 3% commission.

As each level is reached, its rate becomes payable from the first dollar. For instance, if a salesperson writes $95 per hour, the commission rate is 2% for the month.

When an owner or manager starts with expectations, everything else seems to fall into place. You’ll be surprised at how much more productive your associates are, just because they know what’s expected of them.

Sam Arnstein, Speaker, Trainer, Consultant, Mercer Island, Wash.

Lazare Kaplan’s New Technology

We are compelled to correct the misimpression created by your article titled “Cheaper Certs for Smaller Diamonds” in your July 1998 issue. With regard to the current process used by the Gemological Institute of America to micro-laser-inscribe stones, your article stated, “The new process uses ‘much more advanced technology’ than the 20-year-old system licensed from Lazare Kaplan International….”

While this statement is literally correct, it leaves your uninformed reader with a serious misconception. The “new process” referred to in your article is a completely new laser-inscription technology, which has been developed by and is – like the older system – owned by Lazare Kaplan (patent pending) and which Lazare Kaplan licensed to GIA. Lazare Kaplan also uses its new process to inscribe its Ideal Cut Lazare Diamonds.

S.L. Ginsberg, Executive Vice President and CFO, Lazare Kaplan International Inc.


The article “Good Times Are Ticking for Watches” in the July issue of JCK included a quote from a retailer indicating that Bulova watches are available in Wal-Mart, Kmart, and Sam’s Club. According to Bulova, its watches are not authorized for sale at these stores or any other mass merchandiser.

In the June issue of JCK, the article “Enhancements and Disclosure” referred to the Gemological Institute of America’s disclosure policy on glass-filled surface fissures in rubies. The article erroneously stated that GIA doesn’t disclose the filling on its reports, since the glass doesn’t add weight and is only a byproduct of heat. GIA does, in fact, indicate the presence of this glass on its reports. The article should have stated instead that many gemstone dealers don’t disclose the glass filler.

Incorrect designer information was given for the black South Seas pearl ring in platinum and diamond pavé (above) and the 18k gold Art Deco style brooch (below), pictured on page 27 of the July 1998 issue of JCK. Both are from Gumuchian Fils Ltd., 10 W. 46th St., 17th floor, New York, NY 10036; (212) 921-2755.