Many talented fashion entrepreneurs find they are surprisingly uncomfortable promoting and selling their products. While they believe in their vision, many want to avoid the negative stereotype associated with sales. There’s often a public perception that salespeople are shifty, dishonest, and willing to empty the pockets of anyone naïve enough to be taken in.
While you might initially be uncomfortable assuming the role of a sales representative, salesmanship is essential for fashion business growth. It’s time to expand the parameters of your comfort zone. Embracing the art of salesmanship and self-promotion will empower you to get your designs noticed and reach your business goals. The truth is, anyone can learn the art of confident selling. Here’s how:
Don’t Let Your Initial Lack of Confidence Keep You from Trying
There is a lot to be said for faking it until you make it. Success builds confidence and confidence generates success. Successful sales techniques take time to evolve. Nurture your abilities. If your negative inner dialogue is interfering with the sales process, remember your positives and keep going.
Many emerging fashion designers just like you shy away from sales because they are concerned that promoting their products will somehow cast their business in a negative light. Not true. When you sell with integrity, you can promote yourself and your fashions confidently at every event you attend.
Try to think of it this way. You offer a product that many people want, something with a unique design or sense of style that sets your customers apart from the masses. In your effort to sell your creations, you offer your customers valuable information that sets your creations apart from the competition. If you don’t really make the effort at self-promotion, you deny your potential customers the chance to get to know you and appreciate your brand.
There is No Logical Reason to Feel Embarrassed About Promoting Your Brand
If you are self-conscious about promoting your fashion design business, your discomfort could stem from trying to promote your products and engage your customers in a manner that is not natural to you. If you are not true to your own nature, your sales strategies may come across as inauthentic or insincere.
You do not need to be a perpetually over-excited, undeniably upbeat cheerleader to promote your product line if that doesn’t feel right. Just be true to your nature instead. Create a brand voice that feels authentically you, and sales will come easily.
You also do not need to market your business in an over-the-top manner to impress your colleagues or other designers. While networking and creating a community is crucial, these people are most likely not your customers. All you really need to do to be successful in sales is to address the needs and concerns of your intended target audience.
Successful salesmanship relies on the ability to be true to yourself and your brand while engaging potential customers. When you find your balance and learn to speak directly to your customers, you will gain their trust. To build your sales confidence, consider the following:
- The public is generally interested in products that solve their problems
- Speak to people directly, in a style and manner you are comfortable with
- When you consider the needs of the people who want your products, you will know what to say
- Sincerity and authenticity build trust. If you are trying too hard to sound a particular way (continuously excited, or super smart) you will typically find it harder to connect with others.
When you communicate with your prospective customers its essential to use language that everyone understands. There’s really no room for ambiguity or industry jargon.
If someone outside of your industry would not easily understand what you are trying to say, if your mother or best friend would be baffled by your explanation, then you are not relating to others as a human being, and you will not earn their trust.
Remember that Rejections Are Not Personal
When you are the person responsible for selling your designs, it is likely that you will initially take rejection personally. With time, you will learn to understand that when someone does not make a purchase, it is unlikely that you could have changed their mind.
There are many reasons you may hear that dreaded “no.” Just a few potential reasons a prospective customer may decline to purchase include:
- The prospect was simply not interested in the particular style you are promoting
- The timing was inconsistent with their needs or available funds
- Your prospect is not ready to make a purchasing decision
- The customer may have a specific need your product does not fill
Successful Sales Requires Product Advocacy
To sell with confidence often requires changing your perspective. You may find it increasingly helpful to consider yourself a product advocate rather than a salesperson when you attend an event or fashion trade show.
In the role of an advocate, you are in the position to promote products that fulfill a need or desire. As others become familiar with your brand, they will likely advocate on your behalf. The following observations may help you feel more confident in this role:
- You are not simply trying to encourage people to part with their money; you are a fashion professional providing a valuable and unique product.
- When you advocate for your product, your brand will sell itself.
- Make a list of every bit of expertise that goes into your products and your brand, so you understand your value.
- Understanding your value will help you relay the value of your creations to others.
- Define what sets your business apart from the competition, and become an expert in those differences.
- Demonstrate value. Whether it be the value of unique products, the benefits of a particular fabric, or the value of end-of-season pricing, promoting value builds customer loyalty.
- Build relationships, engage in meaningful conversations and get to know your customer’s needs.
- Highlighting the features and benefits of your brand will help you sell with confidence. For example, the feature may be linen fabric. The benefits would be a hypoallergenic garment that will not require the use of fabric softeners or dryer sheets to remain static-free.
A Few Closing Thoughts
To close more sales, you may need to work on creating a rapport with your customers based on fulfilling a need and providing a unique vision. A compelling story and focused agenda helps you build trusting relationships with those who benefit from your unique perspective.