From A Rep's Perspective

Mike Root

3 choices to combat the summer doldrums

July 18, 2017

From most indications, summer business has been slow. Retail has been spotty at best, and very few promotions are capturing the attention of the general public to entice them to come in to a store. And yet, we read that housing is doing well, which should bode well for furniture in the near future.

So the options seem to be simple: 1) Keep hitting your head against the wall with little or no results, or 2) Do like everyone else does, and take the summer off. As unpleasant as the first option sounds, most people would recommend this course of action because what little business you capture is better than no business. However there is a certain segment of the population that is content settling for option #2. Why fish when the fish aren’t biting, as the reasoning goes.

Might I suggest a third option to combat the summer doldrums: Try a new or different approach.

I was reminded of this when a friend recounted how he and his wife came to make a sizeable furniture purchase at a local store. They had just moved into a new house and were being deluged with new homeowner mailings addressed to new homeowner or some other generic addressee. So when they got a handwritten letter with their name on it, they opened it up, read the offer and went to the store. They asked for the salesman who had written the letter. In the course of working with him, they learned he built this personal marketing campaign all on his own from finding new homeowners at the Register of Deeds postings to writing the letter inviting the new homeowner into the store with a lure of a discount. All of the other salesmen thought it was a waste of time to write those letters. That was, of course, until my friend spent more than $10,000 buying new furniture.

The success of this effort was that personal marketing stood out from all other offers and gained attention from the prospects. If you can look at your customers and solve the problem of how you can help them vs. what you can sell them, you will be a long way down the path of getting their attention.

As a factory or a sales rep, the biggest challenge for retailers right now is twofold. First, the lack of store traffic of qualified buyers definitely keeps sales down. But retailers are also beginning to realize they are losing some business and maybe more than they suspect to Internet retailers. Offering products that will help combat these problems either by enticing people into the stores for unbelievable deals or something that cannot be easily found or delivered via Internet options should get astute merchants attention.

The point is there is someone buying something every day. My job is to make sure my product is being presented as often as possible. It has to be placed on a retail floor, sales associates have to know about it and feel comfortable selling it, and the end consumer has to perceive it as a value that meets their needs. It’s a tall order, which is why we have to get up everyday and work hard communicating our value proposition.

Plant the seeds now with opportunities that can be harvested when the customers come back into the market as they always do. If you take option one and keep doing what you always have done, you will not get the attention to your offerings that you deserve for the work you put in.

If you take the summer off, you will not have any seeds to harvest when business comes back.

But if you look at your business, figure out how you can help your customer answer the question “what’s in it for me?’, and work towards communicating that message, you will get the attention you deserve for when the business rebounds.

As always, feel free to leave positive comments or share ideas about this in the space below. Good selling.

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