The ‘P’ in YPOS needn’t be a real problem – it could be a question that’s been seeking an answer from an expert in a particular field. We took this one, about who does what in sales, to Andy Murray of Murray Agencies, who has sat in all camps in bridal and loves being where he is right now…
Having been involved in sales within the bridal industry for the best part of 30 years, Andy has often been asked by his retailers to explain the differences between the following routes to market – the manufacturer selling their own brand with the help of their sales reps, the distributor/agent, and the sole agent. “I’ve been there and done them all,” he says, so who better to explain the various roles and the responsibilities that go with each?
The manufacturer selling their own brand
“I started my journey in sales,” explains Andy, “in the early 1980s. I was drafted into the family business by my older brother, Mike Murray, who – despite my lack of experience – took a huge leap of faith and employed me as a sales rep to help generate business and establish new accounts for Cupid Bridal Gowns.
“That was where my journey began. Cupid was a UK manufacturer and, like many other domestic companies, preferred to employ its own sales team. This provides the manufacturer with a dedicated sales force that is, usually, remunerated with a salary and a small commission and (/or) bonus package achievable against sales targets.”
While the arrangement may be very beneficial to the manufacturer, Andy personally found it limiting in terms of his personal growth, development and earning potential.
However, to many, the stability of a regular salary is often more appealing because it appears to offer greater financial security. “I guess it is horses for courses,” he says.
A distributor is essentially an independent sales contractor who enters into a distributor agreement, and buys products in bulk at a reduced margin from a manufacturer (usually overseas).
Then they will sell them on to their own customers in their domestic market. This can involve the distributor in considerable expense – in stock-holding, product dispatch, paperwork and credit control, but the reduced purchasing price enables them to add their own margin to cover costs and make a profit.
This is what Andy has found to be the most interesting sales channel: the sole agent.
“I found it to be enjoyable and more rewarding, with benefits to both agent and retailer. In a nutshell, a sole agent is appointed by a company to exclusively sell products on their behalf in a defined territory. Working on a set percentage of sales, the agent receives payments from the principal company by way of commission, usually ranging from 10 percent to 15 percent. The agent does not have the responsibilities of distribution, invoicing or debt collection, and is only involved with sales and account management within the designated territory.”
In general, sales agents have the potential to earn more money – usually earnings are uncapped and relate to how hard the agent works. Agents have more autonomy and can make decisions about who they sell to, how they service the territory and the hours they work, which means that they are principally their own boss.
That, Andy explains, also benefits the retailer because: “as a self-employed agent, you have to go the extra mile for your customers as they are your primary source of income.”
Andy first became an agent in the late 1990s, when he left his family business and went down the self-employed route, contracted first to Dutch company Modeca – then a new name to the UK. Andy successfully got the brand off the ground.
“Backing the wrong business can be damaging to your reputation, as I found out later with a company called Intuzuri,” he says. “But as a result of the success I met with Modeca, I was head-hunted by Pronovias. The four years I spent as an agent with them was a fantastic experience, and one that still stands me in good stead today.”
He went on to say, “For me, the bridal industry is one of the most creative industries within the fashion sector. Needless to say, I still have the same boundless enthusiasm and passion for bridalwear as I did when I first started.”
Twenty years on, Andy is still a self-employed agent and now represents what he believes are two of the most exciting brands to enter the UK market in recent years – Whiteday by Jose Maria Peiro from Barcelona and Nicole Spose from Italy.
“I believe,” he says, “that whatever your role in sales, you must always remember that people buy from people – and always endeavor to Andy’s excitement about the two new collections he is representing got us keen to know more.
You can contact Andy on:
+44 (0)7540 323418 | firstname.lastname@example.org