Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hiring a Sales Rep: A Big Decision

So, Pixyworld is taking the plunge. In a certain way it feels like we're signing away our freedom. But, all things considered, I think signing on with Lace and Denim for the Southeast US region is the best next step for us in building our line.

When we first considered a different showroom in 2008, we were scared off big-time. In fact, it was that experience that inspired us to start selling to the retail customer through our own website! It was my husband Jon who spoke with the first showroom, and he came away feeling belittled, bullied, and thoroughly discouraged.

But now that we have our line manufactured, photographed, and selling, we are in much stronger position. We began selling wholesale ourselves in early 2009, and were contacted recently by Lace and Denim. We were leery at first: Would they complain about our online retail sales? Would they exercise too much price control? Would we be paying high sales commissions and showroom fees? Would we have to furnish expensive look books and brochures?

Well, to work with Lace and Denim, we do have to have our retail prices at a certain level in all of our online sales venues. Retail stores can't be put in the position of feeling undercut by an online outlet. But we found Terrie to be a very reasonable person, who understood the financial pressure we are under at this stage in growing our line. Or production volumes are barely high enough to break even on wholesale pricing, and we don't have much extra room for sales commissions.

But to increase production, we need to increase sales. And to increase sales, a good sales rep will certainly be a help. She gave us an introductory discount on her fees, so that we can have a little extra room the first year, to get our volumes up and our production prices down.

It will be an interesting year. We'd be glad to have it lead to showrooms or reps in other regions, but for now it's nice to be starting down this road gradually, with our own sales venue well established.

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