Revamping Your Sales Organization for Home Furnishing Wholesale Success

Revamping Your Sales Organization for Home Furnishing Wholesale Success

Ever sat in a meeting where everyone’s a bit frustrated with the outside sales team? It’s a common scene. But before we start pointing fingers, let’s take a closer look. Those reps? They’re doing their best working with an outdated playbook. The outside sales model we’ve all grown accustomed to was built for a different era – one focused on servicing retailers and dealers in brick-and-mortar stores.

The problem is that the buying landscape has evolved dramatically. The rep who thrived on securing large orders through face-to-face meetings with retailers just isn’t cut out for the designer segment. Retail is on the decline, and exciting new growth is happening in the design sector. Design projects are smaller, more intricate, and often don’t lead to immediate sales. It’s no wonder reps might feel uncomfortable or unmotivated in this environment.

Here’s the good news: instead of feeling lost and confused, you can hit the refresh button and restructure your sales organization for optimal performance. Wondering how? Let’s dive right in.

Understanding Your Customer Segments: The Key to Targeted Strategies

Revamping Your Sales Organization for Home Furnishing Wholesale Success

The home furnishing industry caters to three distinct customer segments, each requiring a unique sales and management approach:

1. Interior Designers

Here, order sizes are smaller and project-driven. To truly serve designers, we need to understand their workflow.

a) They visit various wholesale websites to curate products for projects.

b) They create mood boards and storyboards to present to clients.

c) They require customer approval on cost sheets.

d) Physical samples are crucial, especially for textiles.

To become the go-to supplier for designers, you need to make their lives easier. Here’s how you can do it.

a) Allow them to send mood boards and receive curated product recommendations.

b) Enable them to download these recommendations in various formats (PowerPoint, PDF, Excel).

c) Stay in the loop on their ongoing projects to ensure you’re part of the evaluation process.

The good news? Most of this can be done remotely! So, what would be the best way to cater to this segment? Let’s find out.

Introducing the Inside Sales Model: A Designer’s Best Friend

The designer segment is where the inside sales model shines. An in-house team dedicated to designers acts as a true consultant, saving them time by putting together the perfect product mix for each project. In our conversations with wholesalers who have adopted this model, we found that one inside salesperson can effectively manage 500-1000 designers, making 70-100 calls daily, creating opportunities, and servicing them through product curation.

Building a whole new team might seem daunting, but with a little optimization and technology, you can leverage existing resources. Consider repurposing a few customer service team members to pilot the inside sales model.

We also want to make it clear that this doesn’t mean outside reps are obsolete! They can still be a valuable asset for designers with specific needs requiring an in-person visit. Since you’ve already identified the need, reps won’t feel like their time is wasted, making these visits more productive for everyone.

2. Small to Mid-Sized Retailers

This segment often has multi-generational owners who value the personal touch. Here, your sales reps should be front and center, building relationships and making regular in-person visits.

3. Large Retailers

Dedicated sales and support are crucial for large retailers in the home furnishing wholesale sector. Depending on volume, consider assigning Key Account Managers who focus on just a few of these high-value customers. These reps will be responsible for building strong relationships with buyers and aligning product development efforts with their specific needs. When hiring for this role, prioritize candidates with existing relationships with these buyers, as cultivating such relationships can take years.

Building the Right Sales Organization Structure

The ideal structure for your sales team will depend on its overall size. Here’s a potential model:


Building the Right Sales Organization Structure

Remember, the VP layer is optional. The Chief Sales Officer (CSO) might directly oversee the sales teams at smaller organizations. As the company grows, these VP positions can be added to provide additional management and strategic focus.

This structure allows home furnishing wholesalers to balance customer focus with efficient sales operations, while remaining scalable based on their specific needs.

The Way Forward

By implementing a targeted approach that caters to the specific needs of each customer segment, you can create a sales organization that thrives in today’s dynamic market. It’s time to ditch the one-size-fits-all approach and embrace a structure that fuels optimal performance!

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