From RSI Magazine
Your independent and dedicated manufacturer and brand sales representatives are often overlooked as real resources in today’s fast-paced retail marketplace. But for tennis specialty retailers, they may well be your best resource.
Your sales reps are vitally interested in your retail success because the better your business does, the better they do. They are educated and trained by the companies and brands they represent to provide you with information and assistance to help make you more efficient and successful. It is to your advantage to get more of your sales reps' time and attention to help you with your businesses needs.
Take the time to get to know and connect with each one of your sales reps. Determine how and when you can utilize them as resources to assist you with merchandise and budget planning, to conduct clinics on the products they sell to you, and to describe product features to you and your staff so you can close more sales!
Business Plan Help
Outline your annual business plan, and then review it with each of your key sales reps to get their reactions, input and advice. If there is a piece of industry data, specific product trend or local information that you require for your plan, ask your sales reps to help by providing the information you need, either from their own network or from the brand or brands they represent.
Including a calendar for each sales rep in your annual plan is as important as asking them to contribute to your annual planning calendar by committing to provide the resources you need to support your sale or other events being planned for the coming year. Also, ask your sales rep about price discounts and the best terms to help you with sales events, and get it all on your planning calendar in advance of the season.
Sales reps can be particularly helpful with product portfolio planning and merchandising by making recommendations about what to stock, and just as importantly, what not to stock. Planning open-to-buy, special sale items and purchases with your sale reps in advance helps ensure you will have the right products at the right time so you provide outstanding customer service throughout the selling season.
Getting the right merchandise to your store at the right time also means working with your sales reps to re-plan! No plan survives first engagement…and your sales reps can help you re-plan to take advantage of opportunities in merchandise selling above forecast, by ordering more and replenishing your shelves quickly while still in season…or cutting back on orders for merchandise that just doesn’t sell up to your forecast expectations.
Hot or Not?
Your sales reps often are an early indicator of what’s really hot and what’s not in your area, so make sure you tap into this valuable knowledge every time they make a call on your store. Also, call or email them if you have a question about how an item is doing in your area so you can adjust and re-plan if necessary.
If you are planning a store remodeling or new retail space, your sales rep can also be a great resource for store layout and planning tips taken from their knowledge and the other specialty tennis retailers they visit every day.
When you sit with your sales reps to work on your annual plan, be sure to include clinics and product seminars for your staff—and even for customers! Get your clinic and product seminar needs on your reps calendar at the same time you put the dates on your planning calendar.
One last tip about working with your sales reps: Ask them for recommendations when you have a job opening at your store. Sales reps hear about who is available and they often know potentially great employees who want to get into specialty tennis retail.
This is part of a series of retail tips presented by the Tennis Industry Association and written by the Gluskin Townley Group (www.gluskintownleygroup.com).