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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Death of a Salesman ---- is he really dead?

You may have read my previous blog wherein I mentioned that I was seeking a killer salesman to join my company.  Well, the search is still ongoing.  What I can’t understand is how in the fashion industry, people don’t seem to fathom the true concept of selling. 

What makes a great salesperson?  Showing a collection to a potential buyer and hoping that the buyer will place an order?  That’s an order-taker, not a salesperson.  Selling requires talent; an order-taker is merely a clerk.  A talented salesperson creates business through 1) his/her knowledge of the product and knowing superiority of the product in terms of quality vs price, 2) his/her ability to instill a demand, a desire for the product where none existed previously…this is what I call selling. 

After having a full month of sales for Fall 2010 Collection under my belt, I can make the following observations:

            1) Yes, our economy is still hurting, and stores are still reluctant to place orders and even more reluctant to buy new brands. However, that doesn’t mean that selling a new brand is now impossible. Sales in this economic climate require a different approach.
I have realized that nothing beats basic door-to-door marketing, or, as we call it in our office, Drive by Bagging (DBB).  Actually, it’s a fun marketing tactic that gets a laugh every time we use this term in our office.  We have bright yellow bags with our logo, each stocked with a Fall 2010 Look Book and brand press info.  Our team drives to targeted stores, drops off a bag at each store and introduces themselves to the store owner and/or manager.  We do this because marketing e-mails were not getting the results we wanted.  But DBB is paying off.  Of every seven bags we drop off, one store asks for further info on the brand.  Result: excellent return on investment.  The DBB initiative works.

            2) Another phenomenon I find more amusing than amazing is simply how many who
want to get into sales/marketing or public relations actually lack a basic selling skill:
cold calling.  Annoying, yes, successful, absolutely.  It’s one of the most successful sales tools, if done right.  Because if cold calling was not a successful marketing tool, it would have died along with rotary phones.  Yet so few know how to do it right.  This blog isn’t the place for a cold call tutorial.  But I will say this much that success in cold calling requires a ‘hook’ of one sentence…no longer.  Hook line for my brand is our press accomplishments (both in TV and print media).      
I really think colleges should have a course on cold calling….you think I am joking but I am not.  Successful cold calling (via phone, e-mail or in person) is as important as any other marketing strategy students learn in college.  To be a good at cold calling does require certain level of discipline, stamina and intelligence.  Yet so many people think all it takes is a working phone and list of phone numbers.  Oh, how wrong they are.  One of my goals this season is to make everyone in my office an amazing cold caller…happy to report we are on our way.

So with all these hiccups and challenges our Fall 2010 collection is facing slow sales-- yet I am not worried. 

But I sure do get frustrated at times and can’t help and wonder if this is what Author Miller had is mind when he wrote Death of a Salesman----is he really dead?


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