Whether you are a retailer trying to build sales in your store, a manufacturer trying to increase your shelf space in specialty retail stores, or an affiliate member hoping to sell your services, the challenge is always getting more exposure with the right offerings to the right market group.
Although “selling” has become a negative word (and is quickly being replaced by the more-appealing “customer experience”), we all know that the bottom line is sales. Sales representatives in the toy business are the lifeblood for both manufacturers and retailers. They travel their territory, have formed relationships with the buyers, know what’s moving and trending in their part of the world. Feet on the ground and face-to-face interaction will win over a phone call any day (if you can even get the person you need to actually answer the phone).
As we approach the busiest show and selling season, how can sales reps help increase your bottom line? Below are some very real reasons to work with local, independent sales representatives.
Sales representatives help retailers…
- ..stay informed. Manufacturers frequently add specials and programs throughout the year. Your rep is your up-to-the-minute source to help you find the best offerings. New products are introduced at shows as well as throughout the year. Reps can keep you up to date on the newest items and new lines. What’s the buzz? Sales reps are out in the field and can tell you what’s selling in your area. What is hot on the east coast or west coast may not always be the hot item elsewhere. Your local rep knows the territory.
- …by showing you products year-round. You just can’t get to every show – or even every booth or showroom at all the shows! Sales reps are available all year, not just at shows. Let your sales reps know what you are looking for at various times of the year and they can focus on keeping you on top of the seasonal needs you have. As new companies offer new products, sales reps can show them to you when they are introduced to the market. Many of the newer manufacturers don’t appear at shows right away.
- ..negotiate with the manufacturers. Sales reps know who to go to for issues that arise with orders, defectives, terms, etc. They can get things resolved for you.
- …train your staff. Reps are your best source for training your staff on their products. Staff that knows the most about your products and gets excite about them will increase your sales substantially.
- …help plan events. Retail success revolves heavily around the “customer experience”. Holding events such as game nights, demos, and play days take some work. Sales reps can help you plan with programs their manufacturers offer.
Sales representatives help manufacturers…
- …know their territory and their customers. They have built strong relationships and it is often the relationship that makes the difference in a retailer buying one line over another.
- …with getting their product lines in front of retailers, face-to-face. Local sales reps are out in their territory. A face to face presentation of a line is always more effective than a picture in a catalog, an online representation or a phone call.
- …locate new retailer prospects. While traveling around the territory a local sales rep can locate new retail prospects that may not show up on a search through the internet.
- …get honest feedback on products. Local sales reps can give you honest feedback on products and can be one of your best sources for market research on what is needed in the market place as well
Want to make sure your reps are doing what you want them to do? Whether you are a retailer or a manufacturer, make your wants, needs and expectations very clear and in writing. Sales representatives only make money if they do well with not just the first sale, but the long term relationship. Let them know how to keep that relationship strong and profitable for all.
Sue Warfield is the Director of Member Relations at ASTRA. With more than 30 years of experience in the retail and toy business, Sue offers insight into industry trends and tips and works to connect the retailers, sales representatives, manufacturers and affiliates in the specialty toy retailing arena. Contact Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org.