Sales Conduits, very informative article about marketing in today’s world.
Shared with permission of PFP friend and President of IHFRA, Chris De Lisa
This is how I see myself and my fellow sales representatives.
We are “Conduits” to our retailers, becoming their eyes and ears as to what is relevant in their marketplace, supplying them with ideas and creative ways for them to gain business.
Due to this long recession, most of our independent dealers had to tighten up on expenses, with tough decisions to be made, meaning many of their life long employees needed to be let go in order to keep their doors open. As a result, our dealers are basically locked into covering the stores at least six days a week, if not all seven days, leaving little time for extracurricular activities such as coming to 1 furniture market, let alone 4 markets.
We have become more important resources to our dealers now than ever before, because our retailers are consumed by the day to day responsibilities of wearing multiple hats to cover for the shortage of staff and look to us to bring them not only new merchandise, but ideas on marketing, e-commerce, etc.
A good retailer of mine said to me last week, “Chris, I used to own my store, now my store owns me”.
Being in retail for my entire life before becoming a rep 8 years ago, I know all to well that 95% of retailers get caught up in the price game, trying to be the best “price” instead of the best “value”. As an industry on a whole, we are to blame for this occurrence. Because of this infatuation with “price”, the Good/Better/Best format of merchandising has almost gone extinct, in its place are way too many stores offering a Sea of Goodness.
It does not matter what lines you represent, it is always beneficial for our the retailers and yourself, to subscribe to the GBB format and have more expensive furniture on their floor then what your line has to offer. When I work with a dealer that doesn’t have the greatest mix of price points and they tell me that “I have 5 spots open for you”, I reply with, “I’ll take 3 of them, and here are 2 suggestions for a little higher end manufacturers”.
I challenge each and every one of you to think outside the box and ask yourself before you visit each of your retailers “What is one thing I can do to help this dealer become better”.
Forget about the business outlook, be on the outlook for business.
-Paul J. Meyer