Is the sales rep as good as their Rolodex?

For some product lines, having a showroom is really the only option if you want to build a successful wholesale business. Some stores are reluctant to buy without having seen the goods and checking for quality and styling with their own eyes – totally understandable right? Showrooms, or independent sales reps, can be a wonderful revenue source if, and only if, they have the right contacts for you……a.k.a. the sacred rolodex.  It's so important to pick a showroom or rep that has the contacts you want as well as a large pond to fish in.  Most reputable showrooms have between 4000-10,000 stores in their data base. The main reason I picked certain showrooms over the years was for their connections…..and of course, I had to like the sales staff, but that was second to the list they were going to send my collection to.  Bottom line was always – are you going to make me any money?  Be sure to inquire about the types of stores they sell to the most, and where they see yours being sold.  You want to be sure your line will be seen and sold to their best stores.

If you are thinking of joining a showroom or hiring an independent – here are some questions you can ask AFTER you have grilled them about their rolodex and feel it is a good marriage. 

Some questions you can ask a sales rep:

1.     What other lines do you represent?
What tradeshows do you attend?
Do you require that I attend them?
What commission do you require?
Will you need catalogs or can you print them if I email a pdf file?
What kind of stores do you service? Dept? Boutique? Mass market?
Do you have a standard contract?
Do you return samples? If not do you purchase them?
How many sample sets do you require?
   Do you go on the road as well?
    Do you have road reps that work for you in other states?
Do your road reps need samples too?
    Do you have showrooms in other cities?

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    Written by Sarah Shaw

    There are 3 comments

  • This is a great post Sarah! Thank you!

    But how do I go about even finding a showroom or rep? Do you have a previous article on that?


  • Mariana L says:

    Great article with essential questions designers need! Thank you for posting this. Can recommend a good resource for finding reputable showrooms?

  • My biggest challenge has been finding reps or showrooms interested in rep-ing my lines. Any suggestions in that department.

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