Category Archives for "Productivity"

Jul 24

Fashion Industry Customer Service and The Human Touch

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Productivity


Okay this post addresses  a bit of a personal pet peeve.  But, there is nothing I can’t stand more than a company I buy from not having a telephone number I can reach a person on.  Especially when I have a problem.  Or they have a telephone number but you have to research the internet for 30 minutes to find it.  This activity of having only an email address to handle customer issues is off putting and I don’t believe it is good for business.

Using emails as the only interaction with your end customers creates a wall that separates you from your them.  It prevents you from benefiting from the opportunity to deliver an outstanding customer experience.  Outstanding customer experiences is what you should be trying to achieve.  When you delight your customer you not only create a loyal customer but you also gain customers from the friends they talk to about the experience.

“Branding Through Customer Service Over the years, the number one driver of our growth at Zappos has been repeat customers and word of mouth. Our philosophy has been to take most of the money we would have spent on paid advertising and invest it into customer service and the customer experience instead, letting our customers do the marketing for us through word of mouth.”
― Tony Hsieh, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

Recently I was at Chase Bank making a cash deposit.  I was at the teller drive up and was told no less than 3 times I could make the deposit at the ATM machine.  I did not want to and explained why to the teller.  She told me that Chase wants their staff to encourage people to use the machine.  Wow, what a way to make the banking experience even more impersonal.  It makes me wonder what the management is thinking when they are telling their customers they don’t want to interact with them.

So the moral of this post is:  Have a live persona who is knowledgeable, friendly, and empowered to find solutions handle all your customer service and watch your business grow.

Jun 26

10 Tips From Some of The Worlds Top Salespeople

By Maria Pesin | Business , Productivity

I love quotes!  Nuggets of information that are very inspiring.  Here are 10 tips from some of the worlds top salespeople.  Some of whom you already know.

  1. I have always said that everyone is in sales. Maybe you don’t hold the title of salesperson, but if the business you are in requires you to deal with people, you, my friend, are in sales.
    Zig Ziglar
  2. No matter how busy you are, you must take time to make the other person feel important.
    Mary Kay Ash
  3. The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way.
    Dale Carnegie
  4. I didn’t get where I am by thinking about it or dreaming it. I got there by doing it.
    Estee Lauder
  5. If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.
    Jack Welch
  6. You can make a positive out of the most negative if you work at it hard enough.
    Sam Walton
  7. An immediate reward for lack of discipline is a fun day at the beach. A future reward of discipline is owning the beach. Unfortunately, most of us would choose today’s pleasure over tomorrow’s fortune.
    Jim Rohn
  8. “To build a long-term, successful enterprise, when you don’t close a sale, open a relationship.”
    Patricia Fripp
  9. Never again clutter your days or nights with so many menial and unimportant things that you have no time to accept a real challenge when it comes along. This applies to play as well as work. A day merely survived is no cause for celebration. You are not here to fritter away your precious hours when you have the ability to accomplish so much by making a slight change in your routine. No more busy work. No more hiding from success. Leave time, leave space, to grow. Now. Now! Not tomorrow!
    Og Mandino
  10. “The key to success is to focus our conscious mind on things we desire not things we fear.”                                  Brian Tracy
Jun 22

10 Traits of a Top Fashion Industry Salesperson

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Productivity


I find that people still believe that being a top salesperson means you need to be cut-throat or at the very least super aggressive.  In fact many think that to be a salesperson you also have to be a bit slimy. Fortunately that is not true.  In fact the best sales people I know are kind, soft spoken, and ethical people.  So if you are looking for a good salesperson here are some of the top traits you should look for.

  1. Optimistic – Salespeople see the glass as half full.  They need the positivity to over objections that they experience through the sales process.  In fact it has been proven to be true. One of the best case studies comes from the work of psychologist Martin Seligman. He was hired by the CEO of Metropolitan Life in New York to help with their sales turnover challenge. Dr. Seligman persuaded Met Life to give him access to their new sales candidates and administer their usual testing measures, as well as a new test he developed which measured optimism. He followed the progress of the new sales hires for one year and found that salespeople who scored high in optimism sold 33 percent more insurance than those who scored low. After two years, the optimistic salespeople were thriving in their positions. Met Life experienced increased retention, decreased turnover, and increased sales.
  2. Confidence – “Confidence can get you where you want to go, and getting there is a daily process. It’s so much easier when you feel good about yourself, your abilities and talents,” – Donald Trump.  Exuding confidence will he
    gain a salesperson credibility with a customer.
  3. Knowledgeable – A good salesperson will endeavor to know everything possible about their product.
  4. Good Follow Through –   I have seen many orders fall apart because the salesperson did not make sure to follow through.  I have also seen customers stop doing business with a company because the salesperson was not responsive to their needs.
  5. Good Listener – A salesperson listens to their customers to find out what their needs are and where the opportunities exist.
  6. Perseverance –  Selling is an effort to beat the odds of rejection. Even top performers don’t close every sale. But they don’t take the rejection personally either.
  7. Passionate – Passion is infectious.  It is more vital than what you realize.  Successful salespeople have the ability to maintain their interest and passion and communicate that to their customers.
  8. Disciplined –  Top salespeople make sure that their days are productive with things that make sales and not just busy work.
  9. Looks for a win win – A good salesperson makes sure that the sale is a benefit to his customer as well as the company he represents.
  10. Creative – Creativity is the cornerstone of selling. Top salespeople find possibilities where other people quit.
Jun 19

5 Tips For Selling Your Fashion Brand To Retailers

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Productivity


I know, I know, selling is scary.  Will the customer like your product?  Will you seem too pushy?  Will you not push enough?  What if they reject you?  How do you even start?  These are many of the questions my clients ask me.  The truth is selling is not as hard as you think.  Just like anything you do there is a process.  Following the process will help take the fear out of selling.  The more you do it the easier it becomes and the better you get at it.  As entrepreneurs we need to get over our fear because without sales there is no business.  Even if you hire great salespeople, business owners who involve themselves in sales have better results.  Buyers love when the owner cares enough about their business to interact with them.  Here are my 5 tips to selling your brand to store

Have a brand story

“The best brands are built on great stories.“—Ian Rowden, Chief Marketing Officer, Virgin Group

Your Brand Story is the narrative that, in the telling, portrays the heart and soul of your brand and emotionally connects your brand with the consumer.  Calling an account and telling them you have contemporary dresses does not have the same impact as telling the story behind your contemporary dresses.  We used to call it romancing the brand.

Create a target list of stores

“Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of targets”                          —Nido Qubein, President, High Point University

One of the mistakes that I see salespeople make is trying to sell their product to everyone.  If you think about it, you realize there is a certain kind of store that gets your ideal customer.  Those are the retailers you want to sell to.  They not only will be more interested in your collection but chances are will be more successful with your line.

Identify the decision maker

“Selling to lower or mid-level employees is a multi-step process. If they’re not a decision maker, then that person then must persuade their manager or executive to make the ultimate purchasing decision most-likely losing much of your intended message.” — Stuart Leung, SEO, Manager, Salesforce

It’s all well and good to speak to salespeople or gatekeepers at a store in order to get a lay of the land.  But don’t count on them to sell your product to the buyer.  No one knows your product like you do and the best way to communicate it’s greatness is to talk to the decision maker yourself.

Come up with a strategy

“The chief strategist of an organization has to be the leader – the CEO.” – Michael Porter, Bishop William Lawrence University Professor

Planning your approach is key.  Are you doing an email campaign, a phone campaign, direct mail , or all of the above.  A specific strategy consistently applied bears the best results.  As the owner you are the one who needs to set it up.


Ask for the sale

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.” —Nora Roberts, Author

I still can’t believe how many sales people never ask  their prospect or customer for a buying decision!  You need to actually ask.  It is not enough to just make a great presentation and expect that to close the sale.  Salespeople sometimes think if the customer wanted it they would have bought it.  But the truth is some buyers need a nudge.  Besides if you don’t ask than if there are customer objections you won’t be able to counter them. Once I was trying to sell a store chain.  I kept calling the buyer for the order. When I finally got her on the phone she explained that the reason she hadn’t placed the order yet was she was trying to place her basics first and she needed to find a company that made them.  I ended up offering her the basics which I made especially for her and she placed a half of a million dollar order.  Not bad!

May 22

Taking Massive Action To Build Your Fashion Business

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Productivity


Building your fashion business is about taking massive action to market it.  It is not just about making a good product because if no one knows about it you cannot make sales.  You must get the message out.  I find through discussions with many fashion companies that they just dabble in the marketing process.  They do a little of this and a little of that.  They try one thing and it doesn’t work so they try something else.  Or they do the same thing consistently but not often enough.

I read an interview of Jack Canfield, co-author of Chicken Soup For The Soul Say: “I believe that people make their own luck by great preparation and good strategy. We used The Rule of 5 which I write about in The Success Principles, which is to do 5 specific action steps each day to move you towards the completion of a goal.  So every day for the 14 months before we hit the New York Times bestseller list we would take 5 actions steps. We would make 5 phone calls to newspapers to review the book. We would send out 5 free copies of the book to reviewers.”  In 2008, Chicken Soup for the Soul became the best-selling trade paperback series of all time.

Notice that the authors did the same things consistently over time till they produced results.  They did not try many different things.  They did 2 actions repeatedly over time till their target audience got the message.  According to Tony Robbins, self help guru:  “The path to success is to take massive, determined action.”

Choose your marketing actions, test which ones produce results, then repeat them over and over and before you know it people will start getting the message.  I liken it to riding a bike uphill.  The first few revolutions are extremely difficult, but then as you start to peddle it gets a little easier and then before you know it you reach a momentum that takes you to the top of the hill and you begin to glide.  Make your marketing plan and then work the plan and before you know your business will glide to the top.

Apr 27

Controlling Cash Flow For Small Fashion Businesses

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Productivity

Cash flow is a big concern for fashion businesses.  The industry operates on a seasonal basis and all costs need to be paid before you ship.  It is an especially big concern for new or smaller brands where they have not yet built a business with significant cash reserves.   Most companies don’t  ship every month of the year.  They also do not ship the same amount for each month.  Fall may be their biggest season and they ship most of their product in September.  Summer can be a very small season and they only ship a small capsule group. The ebb and flow of income  gets even more uneven if you sell something like bathing suits or coats.  These classifications sell the majority of product during 3-4 months of the year.  Controlling the flow of cash is extremely difficult.

“Despite the fact that cash is the lifeblood of a business — the fuel that keeps the engine running — most business owners don’t truly have a handle on their cash flow,” says Philip Campbell, a CPA and former chief financial officer in several companies and author of Never Run Out of Cash (Grow & Succeed Publishing 2004). “Poor cash-flow management is causing more business failures today than ever before.” Cash flow is of vital importance to the health of a business.  There is a saying that: “revenue is vanity, cash flow is sanity, but cash is king.”

In the fashion industry cash flow is critical.  Our costs for product come way before we ship and even once we ship receiving payments can take 30 to 90 days.  But this is not the only reason for cash flow problems.  Other reasons are:

  • Low profits or losses
  • Too much inventory
  • Bad Debt
  • Unnecessarily high overhead
  • Non productive use of funds

The question of how to handle cash flow is twofold.  How do you insure that you are not a victim of the above issues and how do you operate with the fluctuations of income?  Over the next several blogs I will discuss ways to manage your cash flow.

Apr 24

Funny and Interesting Facts About Fashion

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Productivity


These are some funny and interesting facts about fashion that I have heard.

  • Napoleon Bonaparte ordered for buttons to be attached to the jacket sleeves so as to prevent soldiers from wiping off their runny noses on their sleeves.
  • The low-waist baggy pants originated in the prisons of Los Angeles, where inmates were not allowed to wear belts to hold their pants in place.– New York Mayor Fiorello Henry La Guardia invented the thong when he was scandalized to see the cities exotic bar dancers performing without an underwear. He immediately ordered to sew tiny panties or thongs for them.
  • Elizabeth I loved hats so much that she made it compulsory for all females over the age of 7 to wear hats on Sundays and holidays. Anyone who refused to do so was stiffly fined.
  • The Ancient Greeks exercised naked. In fact, this is where our word “gymnasium” comes from; γυμνός (gymnos) means naked in Ancient and Modern Greek.
  • Initially, both men and women wore togas in Rome, but after the 2nd century BC, respectable women wore stolas and prostitutes were required to wear a toga.
  • In 1907 a woman was arrested for wearing a fitted one piece swimsuit on a beach in Boston
  • In 1999 two women died when electricity struck and their underwire bra acted as electricity conductors and transferred the current between them.
  • The bikini was named after the island Bikini Atoll, where the US military was testing its bombs in World War 2. It was so named because its creator, Louis Réard, belived the revealing suit would create a shock like that of the atomic bomb.
  • The skirt is the second oldest piece of clothing, outdated only by the loincloth.
  •  Sneakers came to us thanks to Keds, the first company to create this type of shoe, in 1917. Converse produced their first pair of sneakers later that year.
  • The first pair of Doc Martens were created from old tires.
Apr 06

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up Your Office

By Maria Pesin | Business , Productivity

“A well-organized office has huge benefits. In the first place, it provides a feeling of control and competence, which leads to higher levels of productivity. Second, the very fact that it’s organized defends against distractions. Your organized office can absorb the incoming work, and position you for success.”  This is according to Neil Patel Co-founder, Crazy Egg in his article “How to Organize Your Office For Maximum Productivity” – December 4th, 2014.  I totally believe this.  My ex-husband’s office was a mess. He swore he new where everything was.  But, the truth is he lost things all the time and spent hours trying to find the things he lost.  I know we have all been in that position.  It costs us countless hours of productivity.  It also plays havoc with our ability to think clearly.  So when Neil Patel says a well-organized  office can position you for success I think that he’s right.

Recently I ready a book called “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying”.  It is one of the best books on organization I have read and believe me I have read a lot.  It’s written by a young women Marie Kondo.  Ms. Kondo has a new take on how to approach organization.  One of her tips  is you should only have to do a massive organization once and from there it should be easy to keep up.  As long as you put things away after you are done with them.  She also claims that if you organize using her system you will want to put things away and she has hundreds of client success stories to prove it.  As my mother always used to say,”A place for everything and everything in its place.  This is a book I would recommend to anyone that knows the value of an organized work space. magic of tidying


Mar 16

Sales Management and The Fashion Business

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Productivity


“In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence”, Laurence J. Peter from the book “The Peter Principle”. Good salespeople become good sales managers.  Is that true?  Not according to Laurence J. Peter.  Just because you were good at sales doesn’t necessarily mean you will be a good manager.  Yet many heads of companies think so.  Their hope is that the new manager will teach the salespeople how to be good at sales.  The idea is sound but the execution usually is not there.  And why?  Because we don’t train our managers to be good managers.  Many industries have comprehensive training programs for different kinds of employees.  They don’t throw them in the pool and expect them to be able to swim.  So why does the fashion industry do that?  Just as we should be teaching our salespeople to be the best they can be, we should be teaching our sale managers.

According to “Most sales manager training is simply re-purposed sales person training, and sales leadership programs are often focused on generalized leadership skills. But sales leaders need more than better selling skills and an executive presence – They need targeted education on how to guide their salespeople to higher performance.”

So what are some of the things we should be teaching our sales managers?

  • How to communicate the companies vision.
  • How to coach salespeople for maximum results.
  • How to set performance standards.
  • How to be proactive rather than reactive when handling customer related issues.
  • How to go from being a super salesperson to a super sales manager.
  • How to lead instead of just managing.

Ironically we don’t train our sales managers because we think we don’t have the time or the money to invest in training.  Keep in mind, that there is no investment that you can make that will do more to improve productivity in your company. Therefore if you really think about it finding the time and money to train is really an investment in you business.


Dec 03

The Fallacy of Multi-Tasking

By Maria Pesin | Productivity


multitaskingMC (1)

As a business owner and single mom life is pretty complicated. So in order to get as much accomplished as possible in the shortest amount of time I bought into the whole concept of multitasking. I proudly tackled projects and chores while taking calls, answering emails, keeping an open door policy for staff, and spending time with my children. Generally multitasking to the Nth degree. But am I really getting more done or in fact less?

 Gloria Mark PHD and Professor in UCI’s Department of information was quoted saying “we found (in her research) about 82 percent of all interrupted work is resumed on the same day. But here’s the bad news — it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task

Would I be better off letting calls go to voice mail, emails not being read and closing the door in order to have uninterrupted time to concentrate on the job before me?

According to John J. Medina Author of Brain Rules and a developmental molecular biologist. “Multitasking, when it comes to paying attention, is a myth. The brain naturally focuses on concepts sequentially, one at a time. At first that might sound confusing; at one level the brain does multitask. You can walk and talk at the same time. Your brain controls your heartbeat while you read a book. A pianist can play a piece with left hand and right hand simultaneously. Surely this is multitasking. But I am talking about the brain’s ability to pay attention… To put it bluntly, research shows that we can’t multitask. We are biologically incapable of processing attention-rich inputs simultaneously”.

Probably doing laundry when you are with your children is a good way to multitask as laundry is a low concentration activity and you can spend quality time with your son or daughter talking. They don’t need to be entertained all the time. What I do now is block out time and actually use my phone timer to where I allow uninterrupted time to focus on a particular job at a time. It is working for me and I accomplish more in a shorter time.  Think about working smart rather than working hard.