follow us
Mike Root

Are you hurting your own sales efforts without even knowing it?

December 3, 2012

I ran into a rep the other day who I had not seen for several years. Really nice guy who I am sure all the sales people really like because he will sit for hours and talk with them. I'm sure he knows his lines well and gives a good sales presentation or sales meeting.

I asked him how his business was and he indicated not good at all. He proceeded to tell me all the things that were wrong with his line and how they won't change with the times. He then told me all the problems he has with the buyer changes at a major customer.

I got to thinking about how change has a way of acting as a roadblock for some and a catalyst for action to others. In the case of the line he represents, I know it by reputation and they have done the same thing for years. In a fashion industry like ours, it is important to innovate and experiment with design. Sure some things won't work but it may move you in a direction that eventually can become a grand slam.

As a rep, I have always tried to listen to what my retailers are saying is working from others and then share with my factories. I watch for product trends of others while on my retailer's floors. It is as much my job as a rep to help the factory understand the market trends as it is their in-house designers. Sometimes they don't listen, but many times they do and I feel that is a reason why we represent such good factories. They are willing to listen and change with the times.

This rep and others who work with him may have told the factory they needed to change. If the factory doesn't listen, don't give up if you feel strongly about it. Helping a factory because times are passing them by and they are not adapting is as good for the factory as it is for the commissioned rep once they get back on the right path.

As for problems within retail establishments and buyers, this rep I believe had the wrong attitude. He shouldn't criticize the retailer for their perceived on his part bad decisions. His job is to help the retailer satisfy their retail customers by providing the best value product. If he can make the buyers job easier by providing products that sell at retail, it would be crazy for them not to work with him. A buyer change means new eyes are looking at the product. If the product no longer serves the purpose it was intended, then the rep will find himself out on the street. But if the product continues to be of relevance to the store, a buyer change will not disrupt the sales momentum.

One final thought on this chance encounter. The retailer is going to buy what sells and in this competitive marketplace, there are lots of lookalikes. Assuming you represent a good product (and if you don't then that's the problem for another day) you rep sales skills only carry you so far. At the end of the day, a positive attitude towards your factory, your job and your customers is the most important element.

If you don't like your factory you represent or the customer you have to call on, it will be evident. But if you love what you do, it will shine through. I am very fortunate because I love what I do.

As always, weigh in below with your positive comments. No whining allowed or we will know this article was about you.