I understand Zoe’s frustrations with sales reps but I can see things that are a problem from the other side too. Being on the sales and marketing side, I often have to be the devil’s advocate. For example, this comment that was left after Zoe’s post bears discussion:
Basically I think the majority of agents are a complete joke. I haven’t heard of more than one or two sales agents that actually give a shit about the product and putting in the hours required to really learn about and connect with the history, brand or /direction/etc
Another question is why are 99% of sales agents so useless and unwilling to put more than the minimum amount of time and energy into selling your collection?
The reason is, they already have their cash cow and it’s not your line. I think one thing people lose sight of is that sales reps, like retailers, like DEs, are business people. The difference between retailers/reps and designers is that we are (usually) not married to, or emotionally invested in your ideas. They are there to make money.
The difference between retailers/reps and designers is that we are (usually) not married to, or emotionally invested in your ideas. They are there to make money.
We want our inventory to sell. If it doesn’t sell, the story, history or direction is irrelevant. Honestly, these things are useful to magazines writing pieces on lines or designers. They are interesting to fashion enthusiasts. A woman walking into a store for a dress wants something that appeals to either her taste, budget or lifestyle, or a combination of the three. You can be on the mark with a crappy story, you can be off the mark with a fabulous story. As retailers, we care about what sells because we (honestly) don’t (usually) have the time to discuss your brand history and direction with the customer and if your line doesn’t sell it doesn’t matter. Those things are for branding and PR campaigns.
Where I will agree is that history and direction are important in regards to consistency and longevity. The retailer may be interested to know that you can perform or will continue to. But the school you went to and where you interned before you went out on your own– doesn’t matter. That you were inspired by your recent trip to the beaches of Bali, that’s for your publicist.
Part of the disconnect is that DEs get married to their ideas and concept and figure that other people should be emotionally invested. Honestly, this all comes down to transactions, dollars exchanging hands. And if you’re going to feel that your rep should give a **** about learning something, it needs to be something that will help them make transactions, not get touchy feely and friendly with your company. Otherwise, you could end up in the common situation of having a rep who absolutely adores, loves and admires your line, knows everything about it, but it’s not selling.
Now the problem is compounded by the harsh reality that every showroom has their cash cow(s). And a line that isn’t performing isn’t given the resources that the better selling lines are. I have never seen a well-selling line that was basically ignored by the rep, given little time or energy. This is why I often write that DEs need to be concerned about the entire sales channel, from retailer to consumer. Even though you can say it’s someone else’s job at the end of the day, it’s your company that is producing the goods and who is going to care more about the sale than you.