Independents

Squirrel Spotting: Products and Sales Results—The Fallacy

IndependentsSep 27, 2017

Squirrel Spotting: Products and Sales Results—The Fallacy

Jewelers shouldn’t expect sales to increase when they have the wrong product in their showcases, Peter Smith writes.

2016-Peter_Smith_copy.jpg
Peter Smith has more than 30 years of experience building wholesale and retail sales teams. He currently is president of Vibhor Gems.

Sales results are a function of “stuff” that has absolutely nothing to do with wishing for better sales results. It does not come from good intentions, management pressure, or--the best fallacy of all-- from the fact that it’s “not last year” and, as such, we ought to see sales increase.

We’ve all done it. Sat down at the end of the year, or the quarter, or the month, and put pen to paper, white board or spreadsheet a number that we expect to hit for the coming period. The goals usually come from someone with lots of leverage and everyone else follows along, even if they know the goals to be delusional.

It is a rare company (unless they are a public organization in the crosshairs of Wall Street analysts and prognosticators) that is bold enough to forecast a sales decline. How can we? The price of everything else has gone up. So how can we plan for a scenario that results in less business?

And yet, many companies see sales declines year over year and are left to ponder, as the Talking Heads did in the 1980s, “Well, how did I get here?”

Sales forecasting is an inexact science. It is filled with many variables and no matter how many scenarios you plan for, two things will come to pass:

1. You will be surprised by something that was difficult, or even impossible, to predict; and

2. You will have fallen victim to what Daniel Kahneman calls in his book “Thinking Fast and Slow,” the “planning fallacy.”

Sales forecasting is a hugely important part of our businesses; we need context, a frame of reference, a check and balance, etc. What ultimately determines sales results (whether good or bad), however, is 100 percent a function of doing the right stuff, or doing the wrong stuff.

And paying a lot more attention to what that “stuff” looks like will more positively impact sales results than “running the numbers” until you’re blue in the face, or holding meeting after meeting designed to motivate, threaten or cajole salespeople into doing what they might not have the tools, the resources, or the wiring to do.

One of the biggest contributors to the sales delusion is, of course, our products. And, unfortunately, most companies believe that their products are better than their customers believe them to be. We know that to be true because

dated and non-performing inventory is an industry epidemic on the retail and supplier side.  
“If it didn’t sell, it’s no good. The quicker you deal with it honestly and proactively, the better your business will be for it.”
I know of a number of companies on the supplier side that could chart a much healthier course but for the millions of dollars of non-performing inventory sitting in retailers’ stores. Likewise, almost every retailer I visit has a serious dated inventory problem that is preventing them from being the best version of themselves.

No matter how smart, intuitive or creative you thought you were when you bought, commissioned or designed that dated product, one of two things is certain. You either miscalculated, no matter how much post-rationalization ensued, or your decision was sound when you bought or made the products, but the world has changed and the product is no longer relevant.

Whether you are a retailer or a wholesaler, the good news is that you don’t have to rely on instinct, intuition, buyers or designers to provide explanations, rationalizations, excuses or promises about what and why. You have the data. If it didn’t sell, it was a bust. If it sold, do it again and again until it stops selling.

Johnny Carson once quipped: “When turkeys mate, they think of swans.” You can think of your products as swans all you want, but if it looks like a turkey, walks like a turkey and gobbles like a turkey …

Since none of us have a crystal ball, we can all agree that getting the product story right remains one of the central challenges in our businesses. It is even more so with retail evolving at the pace it is changing.

That process is not going to get any easier in the coming months and years, but there is one dynamic that is even more challenging, and which continues to haunt retailers and suppliers alike, and that is accepting the realization that some or, in certain cases, many of our products just don’t work anymore. They’re not relevant to today’s consumer.

Dressing it up, repackaging it, or pretending that it is not a problem is not a winning formula. You’ve got to be honest; stop the rationalizations and stop listening to your inner voice, your buyers’ protestations of validity, or those of your designers and production teams.

If it didn’t sell, it’s no good. The quicker you deal with it honestly and proactively, the better your business will be for it.

I know that many will read this column and keep doing the same stuff anyway. I get it.

American journalist Franklin P. Jones famously said, “Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger.” He had a point, and he wasn’t even in the jewelry business.

Peter Smith is president of Vibhor, a public speaker and author of “Sell Something” and “Hiring Squirrels.” He spent 30 years building sales teams in retail and wholesale and he can be contacted at dublinsmith@yahoo.com, peter@vibhorgems.com, or on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.
Peter Smithis an industry consultant, speaker, and sales trainer, and author of three books, “Hiring Squirrels,” “Sell Something,” and “The Sales Minute.”

The Latest

National Jeweler columnist Peter Smith
ColumnistsFeb 20, 2024
Squirrel Spotting: Life After Rolex

Peter Smith shares advice from independent jewelers who used losing this cornerstone brand as a catalyst for reinvention.

Neile Adams McQueen and Steve McQueen
AuctionsFeb 20, 2024
Jewels from Neile Adams McQueen Shine at Bonhams

All 13 lots belonging to the actress and first wife of Steve McQueen sold at the recent “California Jewels” sale.

Stuller bench jeweler
Events & AwardsFeb 20, 2024
Stuller to Host Bench Jeweler Workshop in March

Registration is also open for its “Battle of the Benches” challenge.

GIA id100
Brought to you by
Full Disclosure at Your Fingertips

Distinguishing natural diamonds from laboratory-grown stones – now more available than ever – has been difficult for jewelers. Until now.

Jade Ruzzo gold and diamond Tennessee Torque necklace
CollectionsFeb 16, 2024
Piece of the Week: Jade Ruzzo’s Tribute to Tennessee

The movement of the 18-karat gold and diamond “Tennessee Torque” necklace is subtle.

Weekly QuizFeb 15, 2024
This Week’s Quiz
Test your jewelry news knowledge with this short test.
Take the Quiz
Jared Goff and Claudia Cividino
MajorsFeb 15, 2024
Detroit Lions’ QB Jared Goff Going to Jared

Goff, whose fans hold up “He Went to Jared” signs at games, has signed a partnership with the retailer.

De Beers Venetia diamond mine
SourcingFeb 15, 2024
De Beers’ Production Down 8% in 2023

The company recovered 31.9 million carats of diamonds in 2023, compared with 34.6 million in 2022.

flashforge pic.png
Brought to you by
WaxJet: Revolution in Jewelry Manufacturing

The WaxJet 400, recognized as the world's fastest wax printer, is bringing in a new era of precision and efficiency to industry.

Gina D’Onofrio Heritage Auctions
AuctionsFeb 15, 2024
Heritage Auctions Names New Co-Director of Fine Jewelry

Industry veteran Gina D’Onofrio has rejoined the auction house.

Indian Diamond and Colorstone Association (IDCA) awards
Events & AwardsFeb 15, 2024
IDCA Hands Out Awards in Tucson

The association also celebrated its 40th anniversary.

A selection of engagement rings
TrendsFeb 14, 2024
5 Engagement Ring Trends for 2024

From three-stone rings to fancy shapes, experts weigh in on what consumers could be looking for this year.

Boucheron Power of Couture
CollectionsFeb 14, 2024
Boucheron’s New High Jewelry Collection Pays Homage to Ceremony, History

“Power of Couture” recalls Frédéric Boucheron’s love of fabric using diamonds and rock crystal.

Rough diamonds from Gahcho Kue diamond mine
SourcingFeb 14, 2024
De Beers’ Rough Diamond Sales Improve Slightly

The diamond miner and marketer said “solid” holiday sales in the U.S. helped stabilize the industry.

Jonker I Diamonds
SourcingFeb 14, 2024
‘100 Carats’ Exhibition Opens at LA Museum

A new display at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County features dozens of gemstones each weighing 100 carats or more.

Grand Seiko New York City flagship
WatchesFeb 14, 2024
See Inside Grand Seiko’s New NYC Flagship

Located on Madison Avenue, the store is its largest in the world.

GIA logo
GradingFeb 14, 2024
GIA Offering Discounts on Jade Reports

The 20 percent off promotion will run through March 31.

KIL Promotions NYC Spring Jewelry and Object Show
Events & AwardsFeb 14, 2024
KIL NYC Show Returns for Spring Edition

Its second trade event will feature vintage pieces and contemporary collections.

Lydia Courteille Lips ring
TrendsFeb 13, 2024
Amanda’s Style File: Symbols of Love

When it comes to Valentine’s Day jewels, the fun doesn’t stop at hearts.

Nana and Jennifer
Events & AwardsFeb 13, 2024
First Responders Win BIJC’s Second ‘Together by Design’ Contest

The couple won a bespoke engagement ring set with a 1.44-carat fancy yellow diamond and designed by Michael Hogan.

Claire’s The Collab campaign
MajorsFeb 13, 2024
Claire’s New Campaign Is for ‘Gen Zalpha’

Its new brand ambassadors, ages 7 to 17, will have some creative control over the ad campaign, called “The Collab.”

Arch Crown 2024 Tag & Label Catalog
MajorsFeb 13, 2024
Arch Crown’s 2024 Tag & Label Catalog Is Out

The book offers solutions for all retailers’ price tagging needs, the company said.

Muzo Private Collection royal orb
SourcingFeb 12, 2024
Muzo’s Collection of Shipwrecked Emeralds Makes US Debut

The three pieces, recovered from a 17th century shipwreck, are set with emeralds from Colombia’s Muzo mine.

WJA logo
MajorsFeb 12, 2024
WJA Launches First Canadian Chapter

The association also announced WJA Toronto’s board of directors.

John Hardy Naga Dragon necklace
CollectionsFeb 09, 2024
Piece of the Week: John Hardy’s Reimagined Dragon

Creative Chairman Reed Krakoff has modernized one of the brand’s most well-known motifs ahead of the Year of the Dragon.

Pomellato high jewelry earrings
FinancialsFeb 09, 2024
Jewelry Cited as a Bright Spot in ‘Trying’ Year for Kering

The luxury conglomerate owns Boucheron, Pomellato, DoDo, and Qeelin.

GIA logo
GradingFeb 08, 2024
GIA Helps Recover Stolen Diamonds

The lab identified the stones when an uninvolved diamond dealer sent them in for grading.

Watches of Switzerland store in the Mall of America
FinancialsFeb 08, 2024
Watches of Switzerland’s Q3 Sales Dip Due to ‘Tough’ Holiday Season

While sales rose in the U.S. market, demand for watches and jewelry was slow in the U.K.

×

This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy