Throughout this blog I will be talking to people in the industry that I think can inspire and give you tips and insight to the industry. This might be other sales professionals, buyers, shop owners and creative business owners that's already started their journey. These conversations will bite sized and I will ask just a handful of questions. First up is my lovely friend Victoria who lives and work in West London.
Victoria has been a sales agent for over 16 years in the London and Surrey area. Her journey in the industry started when her husband who owns a chain of independent gift shops noticed that one of his suppliers, Ryland Peters & Small was looking for an agent. This was before you could find books in almost every gift shop and the brief was to sell their new stationery range into gift shops. Now Victoria represents several book publishers and gift companies selling to around 300 independent businesses.
For those of you who are new to the industry a sales agent sells products for several suppliers in a particular area on a commission basis.
I've sold to Victoria's husband Mark since I started in the industry and got to know Victoria at Ryland Peters and Small where I worked for 4 years. I meet up with her and Mark in their kitchen for tea and biscuits and had a lovely conversation about both selling and buying. It was really interesting to hear from both sides at the same time. However, for this post, I will focus on my conversation with Victoria. To read Mark's story, please click here.
How do you approach & find a new potential stockist?
During the quiet months, I visit as many shops as I can in my whole area, dropping in catalogues and chatting about the companies I represent. I also get sent leads from the companies I work for and attend various trade shows throughout the year.
How often do you follow up?
Sometimes it takes years to get into a new shop, the range might not be right at the time but I don't give up, I keep going back or phone or email every time I have something new to say. It might be a range that is selling particularly well at the moment or just one product that is flying off the shelf. Anything that I think might be of interest to the buyer is worth highlighting.