Today’s Retail Success Demands Gempreneurs, Not Employees

I noticed something interesting about my four year-old grandson. When I am talking to my daughter on our iPhones (they live ten hours away), he will always say in the background, “I want to Facetime pa.”

He has never lived in a time without Facetime. In his mind it doesn’t make sense to just “talk” to someone when you can see the person too. I guess my parents went through the paradigm shift with the invention of the television. Why would one just listen to the radio when they could see the action too? This then became, why watch in black and white when you can see it in “living color?”

Culture changes. Technology changes. Retail changes. People must change.

Today, success in retail demands a shift from an employee culture to an entrepreneur culture. Over the past year, I have been assessing the behaviors of North America’s top performers. None of them viewed themselves as employees of the store even though they were loyal to the organization. They viewed themselves as the CEO of their own small business. In their minds, the store owner had hired their one-person “small business” to come in and sell jewelry.

They see themselves as entrepreneurs. At Exsellerate, we call them “Gempreneurs.” What is the difference between an employee and an entrepreneur? At a high level if understanding employees tend to be more reactive and entrepreneurs are pro-active.

It is for this reason that Exsellerate has shifted our focus to hiring entrepreneurs and transforming existing employees into entrepreneurs. 

Here are the top ten competencies of today’s retail jewelry gempreneurs as discovered in Exsellerate’s research.

1.       Gempreneurs take responsibility for their own success: They are self-disciplined, driven and determined to succeed.  They don’t blame outside influences on business downturns

2.       Gempreneurs hate to lose: They will put in the extra time, energy and effort to achieve their objectives. They invest time and resources into their success.

3.       Gempreneurs are Goal Oriented: They set their own goals that are always higher than expected. They focus on high pay-off activities

4.       Gempreneurs are self-starters who never need to be prodded: They possess boundless amounts of energy and need no external motivation to excite tem to action.

 5.       Gempreneurs understand the power of relationships: They are customer focused and expert at networking

 6.       Gempreneurs are great at Self-Marketing:They embrace today’s social media and emerging technology to self-brand themselves.

7.       Gempreneurs are great decision-makers: They are bottom-line focused and can clearly envision how to achieve their objectives.

8.       Gempreneurs are flexible adjusting their strategies to win: They never see adversity as a problem but as a challenge to be won. They are willing to adjust their approaches in order to win.

 9.       Gempreneurs are natural born sales people: They are influential and persuasive.

 10.   Gempreneurs are resilient: They quickly bounce back from adversity with a renewed energy.

Six Steps to Developing Clienteling Habits


Succeeding in today’s retail environment requires that consultants build their own customer community. People will change their behavior if they see the new behavior as easy, rewarding and normal.

Here are six simple steps that Exsellerate, Inc. employs to jump start high pay-off activities in client’s organizations.  

Step 1 – Make it Easy

Give your team an email template to simply copy and paste. Let them edit it to make it more personal for the client and the circumstances.

Do This: Click Here for an example of an email model that we provide our clients.

Step 2 – Make it Comfortable

At first, strive for participation not perfection. The #1 roadblock to beginning a new habit is the fear of failure. Remove this obstacle and you will be well on your way.

Do This: Start with 1. Ask your people to simply send one email or to make one call today.

Step 3 – Make it Normal

Consultants who resist learning new behaviors often picture the activity in a negative way. Calling a client is often equated with tele-marketers calling at dinner-time.

New behaviors must be seen as normal and that “people like me” act this way. People I admire and want to emulate act this way.

Do This: Find someone on your team with a hobby such as golf. Ask how they would like it if they received a call or email from a consultant at the store where they purchase their golf equipment advising them of a special event. Since your clients have purchased one of the most important items (engagement ring) of their lives, how do you feel they will respond to your call? Let them see the behavior as normal and acceptable.

Step 4 - Make it Rewarding

It may take 30 days before the team members begin to see the performance needle move as a result of the new behaviors. Provide the team with instant gratification but keep the focus on the long-term rewards for the clienteling behavior.

Do This:                Short-Term Rewards

In this case, a “Participation Trophy” is a good thing. The first time participants try the behavior, reward each one with something that they will value such as a Starbucks gift card or a six pack of their favorite beer.

Do This: Long-Term Rewards:

Recognizing that it the new behaviors may take up to ninety days to begin to produce, keep the focus on how doing this behavior will generate results (emotionally and practically) once the activities begin to yield results.

Step 5 – Make it Fun

Celebrate the little wins such as the first attempted call or email. What do we all do with a baby’s first steps? Now you’ve got the picture.

Do This: Reinforce the behavior immediately with something that team will see as fun such as ringing a bell or handing out the rubber chicken award.

Step 6 – Make it a Habit

It takes repeating a behavior seventeen times before becoming a habit. Top consultants are typically very competitive and hate to lose. Give them a challenge and watch the behavior turn in to a habit.

Do This: Create a “17 Day Challenge” and again, celebrate success.

The Broncos or the Titans?

Most Successful You

Two major factors weigh heavily on achieving your maximum level of success. At the risk of losing those readers who hate football (bear with me), the answers are best understood through a sports analogy.

The Denver Broncos won Superbowl 50 while the Tennessee Titans won only three games the entire season. Both teams have a forward pass as an integral part of their playbooks. So what’s the difference between the forward pass of the Denver Broncos and the Tennessee Titans?

It’s talent and execution. Not only did each member of the Broncos possess a generous amount of talent, each player executed the responsibilities of their position better than their competition. No “trickeration,” just flawless execution of the basics: blocking, tackling, running and catching.

Similarly, two key differentiators between top performing retail fine jewelry organizations and all others can be synthesized down to talent and execution.

The Science of Talent. Since top performers are clearly doing something right, it behooves us to understand them. In 2016, using validated behavioral assessment instruments, we scientifically measured the behavioral dimensions of the top performing 1% of retail fine jewelry consultants. Included in our study were high-end local independents, regional and national chains, as well as e-commerce jewelry stores from across North America.

From this data we were able to create a benchmark which would be akin to a diamond cert, but for people. We can now predict with 92% accuracy which employment candidates will perform at superstar levels. A new hire candidate’s behavioral survey can now be compared to this “Sisco TalentCert” benchmark to determine how they will perform—before investing in them. In addition to increasing sales by improving hiring accuracy, the assessment is used to personalize the training focus of existing staff.

The Science of Execution. The new hire onboarding and training in many fine jewelry stores consists of simply telling the wide-eyed new hire, “Here are the keys. Now go sell.” What management does with a new hire in their first ninety days of employment will dictate their level of long-term success.

So what is the fine jewelry equivalent of football’s blocking and tackling? Consultants must flawlessly execute three fundamentals:

The Science of Mastering Relationships. Every successful business and personal interaction is built on the solid foundation of relationships.

The Science of Building a Customer Community. It is the owner’s responsibility to get new customers into the store. It is the sales consultants’ responsibility to get existing clients back in to the store.

The Science of Activating Your Selling SuperPowers. There is a very specific five-step process to which today’s consumer responds exceptionally well. The advent of e-commerce has forever changed the customer interaction—in fact, so much so that following the old-school manipulative techniques that culminate with “the close” will actually encourage customers to purchase online where there are no manipulative salespeople. We’ll address this in future installments, but I’ll leave you with the reminder that becoming a “most successful you” and impacting the store’s success is reliant on scientifically hiring the people that fit the benchmark and consistently and constantly training them to execute their job roles better than your competitors do.

A Dirty Term


A Dirty Term

The Associated Press reports that "fast food is becoming a dirty term." McDonald's and Burger King realize that sales are soft because the fast food age is over-cooked. People now respond better to "fast casual" or even "fan food."

The "Close" is retail's version of the term "fast food." This phrase is a throw-back to the 1990's selling culture.

Millennials want it their way. Even though many prefer to buy online, tech savvy Millennials make the trek into the store because they want the consultant's expertise and guidance in making an informed purchase decision, not pressure-filled closing techniques.

Conversions Without Closing

Conversion rate is still an important retail KPI. Consultants must be retrained to grow their sales through relationship building skills and learning the progression of steps that lead customers to a purchase decision.

4 Simple Fixes to Improve Conversion Rate

  1. Grasp the fact that NO ONE WANTS TO BE CLOSED... including you!
  2. Just as McDonald's customers still want to purchase food, your customers still want to buy jewelry. It's still selling. Just different.
  3. Retrain consultants the steps to improving conversion rates without closing
  4. Ban the term "close" from the store. Instead use "commitment."
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