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Salespeople Are Not All Created Equally |  July 01, 2021 (0 comments)

2021-5-6 DeGroot Headshot

Green Bay, WI—Hiring Squirrels by Peter Smith is a fantastic book. Peter worked for Tiffany & Co., Hearts On Fire and is just an incredibly wise man. And if you’re in retail, especially in the jewelry business, you need to get this book, get in your car, drive somewhere you can be alone and read it all the way through. But ya better bring a notepad, because it’s gonna transform the way you run your business. 

In the first chapter, Peter talks about how he was sent to Houston to fix an underperforming store. After observing for a few weeks he developed a document called SALES PROFESSIONALS STANDARDS AND EXPECTATIONS. He did this because he noticed that some employees really excelled at certain things like sales and customer service, but lacked the attention to detail such as cleaning up the showcase after the sale. So the document was created and eventually it was adopted by the entire company. But it failed miserably. Peter realized his thinking was wrong. He developed the document under the misguided premise that all salespeople are created equally, that they’re all motivated by the same thing. And we know that’s not true at all. 

If we look at basketball for example, Phil Jackson had a pretty great player in Michael Jordan, right? But you play Michael Jordan where HE plays best at Guard, not as center. In my career, I’ve always seen a great increase in sales and productivity when I allowed salespeople to sell and support people to support. If you’ve watched my video last week, I talked about an up system. In a good up system, only salespeople should be in the rotation. I’m seeing as stores increase in volume, they have folks checking in repairs, writing up sales, completing special orders: support duties. In the book, Peter mentions a young lady in Honolulu when asked what she least liked about sales, she answered, “the paperwork.” Now just think about ROI for a second. If you have a great salesperson producing for you, wouldn’t it be prudent of you to keep them doing what they enjoy the most? Selling? This is why I always get a kick out of jewelers that are so excited they just promoted their best salesperson to manager. 

WHAT? You just took Michael Jordan and made him a coach?  This exact same thing happened to me only in reverse. I had a young lady who was way underperforming on the sales floor. She just didn’t like selling. But in the interview she checked all the right boxes and gave me all the right responses just like many of us experience. Then when she got out on the floor, she froze up. But, and I think this is the case for a majority of us, SHE WAS A GOOD PERSON! We didn’t wanna let her go. So instead I offered her a support position, answering phones, opening the mail, checking in our inventory and SUPPORTING the people who loved selling. She was amazing at it and I’m so glad, at the time I read Good to Great by Jim Collins, which gave me that idea.  

Peter ends his first chapter by writing, “The best way to alienate great sales performers is to deny them the chance to do what they do best. Salespeople are not created equally, they don’t perform equally in all roles and they should not be managed or paid equally. In our Sales Management Master Class, Brad Huisken always asks our students, “I’m giving you a $1,000 bonus. You can have it in cash, time off, store credit, lottery tickets or a gift card for something you wouldn’t normally buy for yourself.” And ya know what, everyone raises their hand for something different!

Peter then closes the chapter by quoting Markus Buckingham and Curt Coffman in their book First Break All the Rules. “The founding principle here is that excellent teams are built around INDIVIDUAL excellence. Therefore the manager’s first responsibility is to make sure each person is positioned in the right role.” Peter, this is a great book and I can’t wait to continue into it. And something tells me there are going to be a few more of these videos based on this book. 

Click here or on the image below to watch the first one.

James (Jimmy) DeGroot is a professional jewelry sales and operations trainer from the jeweler’s side of the counter. Having been in management and the jewelry business for over 20 years, Jimmy offers weekly training to jewelers nationwide via the website Jimmy is an AGS titleholder and specializes in training relevant and timely methods for jewelry teams. He can do a full training on making Bridal Presentations the best they can be, among many other regular training options. Contact Jimmy at or call 920-492-1191.

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