By Whitney Sielaff
Whitney 1

Focus grasshopper. We're a week out from the big Thanksgiving weekend, the official kickoff of the holiday retail saga. But the data and reports all tell us shoppers have begun early this year, bargain- and discount-seeking in the quest to stretch their dollars.

Many retailers, including the biggest, have responded, posting specials and discounting as well as already offering incentives such as free shipping on Web purchases. Walmart is heavily advertising its site-to-store policy, where customers buy online and pick up merchandise at their local unit, free of shipping expense.
It's like we're in the earliest days of the annual salmon migration. Although the majority of fish are still in the ocean, staging for the upstream swim, there are some early arrivals already in the stream. And the keen, perceptive and focused fisherman can hook up.
The deal is knowing what bait to use. In your stores, the key is preparing your sales staff, motivating them and ensuring they keep their edge. A great way to do this is to get specific. Choose an item, whether it's a special piece you have, a high-turner or something that generates high margin—your choice. 
Assemble the staff pre-opening and review it. Discuss all of its attributes: the aspects of its components and their particular quality, pricing, how to best sell it, perhaps even past successful sales with similar jewelry. You could even work with the team in devising a constellation of related products that bracket it in price in the event someone might start from the core product and upsell.
What you're doing is getting your sellers focused on the task at hand--moving a real piece of jewelry. Their minds will be focused on jewelry, and that can't be anything but good as they prepare to meet the day's traffic. 
Another trick is to vary this up. If you use the same method repeatedly, it becomes routine, and it won't have the same impact on the staff's mindset. Just remember, for somebody really to notice something, for it to truly stand out, it must differ from the norm.
Keep your sales team focused but challenged, and they'll be best prepared to close. 

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