The Right Sales Tools Improve ROI with Designers

Check out the article “Rugs for Designers: Focusing On The Right Sales Tools Improves ROI” by PORTE-COCHÈRE’s co-founder in the August 2013 issue of Rug News andDesign (P.22)!

Rugs for Designers: Focusing On The Right Sales Tools Improves ROI

By Ann Shriver Sargent

I always find it frustrating when I invest my time and energy to attend a trade show, find a product I can get excited about only to be turned off by the “sample program”. When a vendor develops a rigid program they narrow their potential sales partners and thus walk away from sales. I advocate for an organized set of tools that can be tailored by the sales staff or designer and sample programs that do not require I purchase the vendors display racks.

Every manufacturer knows providing samples, holding and managing inventory and taking photographs can dig deeply into profitability. A keen focus on a sales tool strategy is worthwhile. Programmed rug lines that align design, color, quality and price to a targeted market is halfway to success – selling the product will require aligning the marketing and sales tools with the selected sales channel(s).

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Madeline Weinrib has organized their samples to work for designer requests in several ways from postcards of full size rugs with small swatches for color attached to large samples and poms.  They have a Trade only showroom that allows for the highest level of customization, but can ship large samples and poms to designers anywhere.

As a designer I have made my pitch to countless vendors of rugs, tiles, fabrics and surface materials; that I do not need their “boards” or “racks” or ‘binders”. What I want is to select the samples that appeal to me and work with my presentation style. I make beautiful and inspiring piles that sell my client on all the surface materials, textiles and furniture finishes that will become the room(s). I never want to show ALL the choices (the point of a sample rack, binder or board) I want only the sample that makes my pile sing! It is my job to be concerned with the details – I only need to win approval of the design concept to keep the project on track and place orders!

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“Our goal is to provide the Designer with the necessary tools to help the Client visualize their rug.  Custom color and sampling is a basic service that we provide on all our rugs.”

Elizabeth Eakins, Elizabeth Eakins Inc.

Producers who spend a little time looking at online design boards will see the wide range of presentation styles – so offer up your materials and samples in as flexible a manner as possible. The obvious benefit is additional and discontinued skews cause little disruption to your marketing materials. Needless to say EVERYTHING needs to be EASILY DIGITALLY AVAILABLE! Samples of additional color-ways or patterns should be available to ship out the day they are requested, as we designers and customers alike are very impatient and often planning our presentation at the 11th hour.

The great thing about a programmed rug line is the reliability of the end product. Designers use plenty of programmed rugs, custom ordering by size as needed. A wise producer will get to know their potential sales partner and open up the discussion with…

  • “What about our line do you like?”
  • “What samples or sales tools can we make available to you?”
  •  “How do you present with samples?”
  • “How long will your typical customer wait for a rug?”
  • “Is there a square foot price most of your customers are comfortable with?”
  • “Do you like to have on hand a display rug(s)?”

With these questions you have enough information to decide what samples should be given complementary for their library. One well-chosen sample can begin a long and fruitful relationship. Too many samples that are not chosen by the designer(s) and your line clutters their library and becomes “deadwood”.

There a many terrific rug producers making programmed rugs that appeal to designers but some are just doing a better job at coloring, marketing and sampling. Some excellent are Elizabeth Eakins, Merida Meridian, Roger Oates, Woodard Weave, French Accents Rugs and Tapestries and Madeline Weinrib.

Regardless of the project budget, designers want to present their vision in beautiful and un-confusing ways – this includes digital images, boards and tactile piles. If you are not providing designers with materials to suite all presentation styles, you are missing opportunities to build relationships with your best sales partners, Interior Designers!

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Ann Shriver Sargent is a designer and industry insider who knows first hand how ideas become purchase orders. From marketing to designers to building brand loyalty, understanding how to support the designers who make the buying decisions for their clients is her focus. She is the visionary and co-founder of PORTE-COCHÈRE, a collective wholesale marketplace and national consortium for full service interior design firms and their suppliers in the high-end market.

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