By Pat Henneberry
Pat Henneberry is president of consulting and sales training company The Jewelry Coach. Reach her at 512-203-3414, or on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
If you’re losing sleep over your sales quotas, commissions or bonuses, here’s some comforting news: As much and as fast as our industry changes, the fundamental reasons for success and failure in retail sales endure.

In order to reckon with them, however, you have to ask the right questions.

I know you’ve heard this before from me, but this time it’s not questions for the consumer that I’m sharing, it’s questions you need to ask yourself.

Below is a modest stab at assembling six of the most important questions to ask yourself as a sales professional.

After working with thousands of retail stores over 30 years in the jewelry industry, I can safely say that if you dig deep enough, nearly every strategy, tactic and in-the-trenches success stems from the answers to these questions.

Our retail business is ultimately about people, and no two are alike, let alone retail stores, sales teams and the ever-changing consumer.

Trust me, when I first sat down to write this I had five times as many questions, but I pared it down to six I thought would resonate best.

Many of these questions should be familiar, but don’t get complacent. If the answers come too easy, you probably haven’t thought about them hard enough.

Keep pushing and I promise that you will be a greater asset to the company or store you work for, the company you hope to start, or the company you already run.

1. How committed am I?

This one tops all the rest, and getting to a meaningful answer involves some serious self-honesty.

Commitment comes from motivation, the fuel you need to get really good at something.

What motivates you? Funding your kids’ education? Buying a home? The need to make a difference? Sheer pride?

There are no feel-good answers, only authentic ones.

2. What’s my value proposition?

We constantly ask this from our vendors, brands and everything we sell.

It’s a fancy way of saying, “this is why you should spend money and time on my product and/or service.”

Every sales professional should have their own value proposition, a clear and measurable one.

In all my workshops, I ask one question to start off the day: Why would I buy from you, and why would I spend more money with you than for the same thing down the street?

By the end of my workshop, everyone can answer this question with confidence. Start thinking.

3. Am I clearly communicating my value proposition?

You should be able to explain, in three sentences anyone in your yoga class could understand, why customers need what you’re selling.

If you can’t, you’re in big trouble.

The reality is (and don’t take it personally) no one really cares about what you do. You have to make them care.

You should know your value proposition cold and be able to deliver it so compellingly that you can grab someone’s attention in the amount of time it takes to ride an elevator with them.

Don’t stock your elevator pitch with meaningless jargon and other gobbledygook (I’ve never used this word in one of my articles, I need to use it more.)

4. What differentiates me from the competition?

You need to be different to maintain your competitive advantage, something I preach a lot.

Having an advantage means delivering more value than your competitors do, in the form of more education, specialized training in a brand you sell, or just being your super friendly self!

You might sell different brands or own a “style or collection” in your store but, at the end of the day, people buy from people they like and trust.

5. Who is my role model?

Somewhere, someone is “doing it right” in our industry; I know a lot of them.

Meet them! Join organizations in our industry, like the Women’s Jewelry Association, and network.

It’s simple. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the many role models I’ve had and still have.

6. Am I truly harnessing social media?

Building a presence on social media is relatively easy.

Your customers want you there, they want to learn about you, and you need to be there!

You don’t need any expert to help you. What I mean here is organic Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. ‘Nuf said.

Dive into these questions now. Start your year off with knowing your professional value proposition. You’ve got this!

Pat Henneberry is president of consulting and sales training company The Jewelry Coach and an advocate for natural diamonds. Reach her at 512-203-3414, via her website, or on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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