The Future of Sales in Bridal: How to Choose Your Sales Team

Ivory Grey Project blog post The Future of Sales in Bridal

If you’re a bridal brand that’s been around for at least 7 years, I’m willing to bet you’ve seen your sales decrease, in some cases considerably. New brands, too, are finding it difficult to scale their business at a steady rate. And if you’ve given the situation some thought, you’ve likely figured out bridal, like all other sectors in the wedding industry, is saturated with brands from all over the world vying for that limited bridal boutique floorspace.

But here’s the thing: the vast majority of these brands don’t have a viable sales and marketing plan in place. That is, they don’t have a plan that will take them from being merely a brand that occasionally gets lucky - making a sale here and there - to a successful label that actually fills a market void and solves a problem for the bridal boutique owner. If the former arrangement works for you, great!, but if you’re looking to grow your brand, I invite you to read on because the success of your sales strategy will depend on how well you adjust to the era of the informed buyer.

Before we move on, I want to dispel the myth that simply hiring a sales rep who has “connections” in bridal will get you in all the stores you want. Or, for that matter, that hiring an aggressive salesperson will get you anywhere with stores.

The reality is, aggressive sales tactics don’t work anymore. Here’s why:

You’re dealing with digitally connected, savvy, empowered buyers

the vast majority of buyers prefer to conduct their own research before speaking to a sales rep or seeing you at market

Aggressive selling makes buyers feel used and uncomfortable (as far as customer experience goes, this is as bad as it gets)

Selling to poor-fit bridal stores hurts you in the long (even short) term because you’ll definitely have high customer turnover, which in turn will give your brand a bad reputation

So what can bridal brands do to scale their business in this new environment where the bridal buyer holds so much of the power?

First, adopt a growth mindset. By this, I mean that you need to grow with and adapt to the challenges that a digitally connected buyer presents to your business.

Second, you’ll need to invest in sales reps that understand these challenges and are open to learning, experimenting, and refining their tactics.

Ideally, your sales rep will have a data-driven, strategic mindset and will be tech savvy because he or she will need to rely more heavily on research rather than cold-calling. They will need to be able to identify which bridal stores or buyers are a good fit for the brand as well as where that prospective buyer is in the decision making process. They’ll need to be able to leverage technology to compile customer data, which they can then utilize to be there for the buyer exactly when they’re needed, through the buyer’s preferred communication channel, and with the right information. Some of the customer data they should compile includes: past interactions, top selling bridal styles, price points, customer pain points, stock order buying habits, and trade show habits.

Most importantly, you and your sales rep must make business and sales decisions based on big picture strategies and grounded in current market realities.

This may mean forgoing a sale in favor or waiting for the right customer to be able to pick up your line, or decreasing your minimums to keep your retailer happy. In my experience, selling to a less than ideal store because you want to make a sale never works, that’s because in the end the brand is just not right for the store. And forcing bridal buyers to buy more stock pieces than they can afford, or which they don’t think will sell, always backfires. In both cases you end up losing the customer.

The wise thing to do, then, is to make decisions based on what is good for your brand in the long term. This means your sales team has to be forward-thinking, and it also means you have to cultivate a continuous improvement culture. Yes, technology’s shifting the power dynamics so that customers hold most of the cards, so to speak, but it’s also giving us the opportunity to become more nimble, and to stand out from the rest by providing the best customer experience at exactly the moment it’s needed.

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