Good sales reps are very busy and they want lines that have a proven track record in sales. They aren’t always willing to take a chance on your line if you haven’t sold it at all yet.
A lot of startup fashion designers don’t like the idea of selling their own product. I understand completely because I used to feel the same way about my line! I even created a whole online course (How to Sell Your Line to Boutiques) to help designers understand the steps involved in approaching a retailer and to make the process easier and less scary.
While I do recommend you sell your line in the beginning, I also think there comes a time when you need help selling. So before you go looking for professional sales help, here are a few things to consider.
- Do you have a real plan for marketing your product to help support your sales rep’s efforts?
- Have you sold your product yourself so you understand the process?
- Do you have a product that’s been proven to sell already?
- Will you give the reps exclusive territories when appropriate (no house accounts)?
- Are you clear on your minimum order requirements, a good price list and line sheets?
- Do you have professional photos of your line ready?
- Do you have a statement of your terms of sale including your return policy?
- Do you understand that open communication is the only way to make a sales rep/vendor relationship really thrive?
- Do you understand that throwing sales goals at your rep is not conducive to motivating your rep and that you should decide sales goals together instead?
- Are you positive you won’t begrudge giving a commission to sales reps for sales you think you “could have easily made” yourself? (Think hard about this one?!)
- Are you willing to commit for the long haul to a fair commission rate?
- Do you understand that multi-line reps are just that – they have more lines than yours? This means they aren’t your employees and that sometimes your product will have to take a back seat.
If you think you’re ready for a Rep, I have good news for you! We have a mini-workshop available, “How to Find a Sales Rep for Your Clothing or Accessories Line”. During this presentation you’ll learn my 3 proven ways to find a rep, what questions to ask a rep before you hire them, what to look out for, and more.
So what do you think? Are your ready for a rep? In the comments below, please let me know if there’s anything else that should be included in this list!
This post was inspired by Mana – but tweaked for the fashion industry.