I don’t know everything. Faaaaaaaaaaaaar from it. My purpose as a blogger is not really to educate anyone, but to show people the life of a not-famous designer, and bring up topics that designers think about.
I touched on the topic of the role of salespeople for an apparel manufacturer earlier on my own blog and some expressed interest in reading more about what I had to say on the matter, and I do try to live up to my promises to you readers, one at a time. Here the deal: the more I thought about it, the angrier I got at my own salesguys. Wow, they really don’t do much of anything.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’ve been spoiled. At the previous company I worked for, we showed in a very large showroom, filled with much bigger labels than ours. Our sales team also repped Diane von Furstenberg, Joie, Theory, and Robert Rodriguez, among others. We sent them a line of samples, printed out lookbooks and linesheets and sent them a bunch of copies. When I say “sent”, I mean I walked them over across the street. We had to put up with a sales rep who was always calling with her two cents about how the next collection should look, but all in all, it was pretty painless.
Question: do all sales reps think they should design? All the sales guys I’ve ever worked with are constantly telling us to design this and do this color and whatnot. This is not to be confused with letting us know the pieces that are garnering the most attention and dollars. If I hear one of my sales guys harping on doing red leather jackets one more time, I’m gonna lose it. He keeps telling me that he sees it everywhere, but I don’t. I try to be polite, saying the labels he’s citing is not in line with our customer base and brand. He apparently doesn’t want to hear it.
In my own (perhaps naive) mind, the sales guys do the selling and customer service. They set up meetings, collect orders, explain to them the terms of sale, do the necessary follow-up. The apparel manufacturer creates and supplies the necessary tools to sell-samples, lookbooks, linesheets, order forms, organization of tradeshows. We get copies of the orders, we fulfill them. Next round. Right? No?
I’m honestly wondering if this is how it’s supposed to be, or if my opinion on this matter is skewed because in one case, I was “spoiled” and in the other, I’m the one hoofin’ it to make the sale.
I’d love to have at least one sales guy who has a great enthusiasm for the brand, leading him to work hard at securing meetings at good stores, someone who understands our customer, understands who our true competitors are, and doesn’t find traveling a huge chore he can’t be bothered with half the time I ask him to.
This is an odd, meandering post. Basically, it’s just a bunch of my ideas on the matter tossed onto one post. I’d really like to hear what everyone has to say about this.