SHOP TALK

Byline: GEORGIA CAMP

Sales Rep: Bill Dabney
Showroom: 12S114
Base: Atlanta, Ga.
Years in Business: 17
Q: What is the mood of the marketplace today?
A: While ours is a cyclical business, and my sales have reflected those periodic ups and downs, 1994 will end as one of my best sales years since I began in 1977. More than 90 percent of the retailers I worked left paper. Q: What is the most important service sales reps can offer retailers?
A: Retailers want a salesman who knows his product, his company's strengths and weaknesses, and his company's competitors' products and will share that information with them. It helps them buy more successfully. A gabardine pant is a gabardine pant, but the salesman who can communicate his pant's quality, good fit and easy reorders is the one from whom smart retailers will buy.
Q: What advice would you offer other sales reps to help them make their businesses more successful?
A: Carefully consider the products they represent or may represent, and believe in them. I represent classic clothing only and have since I started in this business. I grew up in traditional clothing, know what works and what doesn't, and my customers respect me for that knowledge. The times I ventured from the classic look I was not successful, because it wasn't my area of expertise. Q: What can retailers do to insure their profitability?
A. Experience the marketplace. Look, hear and feel what's going on. Find out better ways to display, to promote, to advertise by asking other retailers how they do it. A store in Rome, Ga., shouldn't be afraid to share their best ideas with one in Tifton. We can't operate successfully in a vacuum.
Q: What is the most important thing retailers can do to help you be a more effective sales rep?
A: Be open and honest with me. Don't be afraid to tell me if my product isn't right for them or if it's blowing out the door. With open communication retailers win, with products that are developed by manufacturers who listen and respond to their needs.
Q: You are spearheading the promotional efforts of a group of salesmen who represent "Classic Clothing" in the Atlanta Apparel Mart. What is your group doing, and what does it hope to accomplish?
A: Classic clothing is a growing category, and we want retailers to be well aware of us and our products. We began during the August '94 market with a reception for retailers and will continue with another event during the April '95 show. The atmosphere is informal. We're there to socialize...not to sell. Developing these relationships is key because ours is a people business, and when we remember that, we all will be winners.

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