Salesperson 2.0 – What It Now Means To Sell
23 August 2019
Fashion, or any commercial industry, would never even get off the ground if it were not for the talent of the salesperson. Sales roles themselves have always been integral to the hearts of both retail and wholesale, acting as the ‘middleman’ between brand, buyer and product. As the landscape of the fashion industry is in the middle of some serious change, how does this affect the evolution of what being a ‘salesperson’ means?
What defines a salesperson now?
At its core, the essential elements of sales remain the same, such as having expert product knowledge and maintaining good relationships. These qualities have not lost their importance, as the salesperson now faces a set of tough conditions – consumers being able to buy directly from brands, retailers can now purchase products with limited sales engagement. This means people in sales roles now need to expand their skills in the face of the digital giants and larger corporations buying into smaller businesses. There still needs to be a specialised grasp of the market, but previously build relationships cannot be solely relied on anymore.
What can salespeople do next?
Because of the drastic changes within the fashion industry itself, the modern salesperson now needs the ability to ‘upskill’, meaning becoming involved in tasks including range planning, forecasting short and long-term sales, negotiating terms and advising on in-season trading and reporting. Agents are now expected to work with buyers on ‘fresh’ retail concepts, and share feedback to continue to drive design-led changes. Shifts in selling patterns themselves also mean sales adaption is needed, modifying strategies to accommodate new pre-collections and mid-season drops, but also be able to look for brand new ways to engage with buyers and secure the all important sales. Buyers are now looking to minimise risk by spending more in season and less up front, meaning new tactics such as immediate digital points of contact (e.g. through WhatsApp) are providing new solutions. Some topics (such as the ‘in-house’ salesperson debate) have stood the test of time, but what is certain is that anyone working in a sales role needs to keep being one step ahead, regardless of being internal or external. As the importance and influence of these roles continue to grow, the salesperson needs to live and breathe the brands they sell, just as if it were their own.
Photo source: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-to-sell-4161802