Colorado Group – A Friedman Sales Case Study

Back in the 1990s and early 2000s Australian’s had a dalliance with the Colorado brand of clothing. People liked to buy their shoes and boots initially and then this expanded to buying their outdoorsy fashion lines at a premium price. Colorado filled a void between what was then a limited retail space with high end specialist camping stores at one end and Colorado as the mass-retailer in every shopping centre selling fashion outdoors clothing.

In the 2000s the brand started losing its appeal as new players entered the market, such as Ray’s Outdoors, BCF and more recently Anaconda. Brands such as Kathmandu reinvent themselves and Colorado with their high retail prices at the start of the GFC started to be squeezed.

In March 2011 the Colorado Group collapsed with the rest of the company’s brands (Colorado, JAG, Diana Ferrari and Mathers) leaving 3,800 staff without jobs, 441 stores closed and $400 million in debt. This was a sad ending to a brand that was founded in 1864 in Ballarat, Victoria.

The brand was saved in September 2011 when it was bought from the Administrations by the Fusion Retail Brands who have ceased the clothing fashion lines of the Colorado brand to concentrate on the roots of the brand by producing just shoes to be sold in the Diana Ferrari & Mathers shops. Colorado as a retail shop brand has now ceased.

2005 – A Holiday to Tonga

In 2005 I took the family for a 2 week holiday to the Kingdom of Tonga, a pacific island nation near to Samoa, the Cook Islands and Fiji. We had a wonderful time away in the balmy weather of the island, even as Adelaide was getting cold at the start of winter. We left in May and by the time we got back to Adelaide in early June it was cold.

Around this time I read some research that suggested that if you had been away in a warm environment for at least 10 days that you would badly adjust to cold weather upon your return. Well, I experienced this first hand. June in Adelaide isn’t the coldest month of the year (August is normally the worse month) but we came back to rainy days with maximums around 15 degrees and nights at 5 degrees. Now this might not be cold for some of you, but it is in Adelaide! Two nights after we arrived back I needed to go to Port Pirie overnight and as this town is 3 hours north of Adelaide, it gets much colder at night.

After entertaining that night I retired to my Motel room with the heater cranked up, the electric blanket on & fully clothed, but I still shivered through the night. I resolved at that point to buy a new jumper that weekend.

Colorado – A Friedman Experience

Fast forward to the next weekend and we were in Rundle Mall wandering through the Retail shops when my wife wanted to look at a boutique. Being a bit bored I went into the Colorado shop and start to browse the rack of jumpers.

As I moved into the shop an assistant came towards me and started to refold some jumpers, as she approached she said Hi and then continued. To my trained eye I had just had the Friedman 180 degree pass by. I continued to look at jumpers and one caught my eye. It was a jumper with elbow patches – something I hadn’t seen since the 70s. In my subconscious I thought I would never buy this in a million years.

The next thing I heard was the assistant saying to me...are you looking for a jumper today. I did my immediate block and said ‘yeah...but I’m just having a quick look...’ Sensing my apprehension to engage she took the initiative and picked up the jumper with the elbow patches that I was looking at and said:

“These are new and what I really like are the elbow patches, they are a bit different and lots of guys are buying them”. This is a stated Friedman technique of suggesting an item to a customer to try to get engagement, she was also becoming a trusted friend who knew fashion and could assist me in making a purchase.

This got me thinking, if other people are buying them and I’m cold, maybe I should treat myself. Now, I was intent on buying a jumper, but not from Colorado (not really my brand) and I didn’t want to spend $100. But the suggestive sell, the uniqueness of the product and because I was there caused me to put it in my hand, head to the counter and buy it.

Even better the consultant tried an add on – do you have a shirt to go with your jumper, but I didn’t bite, however I was happy that she gave it a try.

Finally during the farewell she assured me that I had made a good purchase and invited me back again to visit her if I needed anything else. Another Friedman technique.

Colorado – The Demise

Clearly this sales consultant had good training, was able to engage with her customers and took the transaction down a sales funnel using the Friedman system to generate sales. But sales consultants can only sell to customers that come across the threshold. Buyers need to buy product that the market wants at a price acceptable to the market, good salespeople will then convert. Marketers need to run strong campaigns that generates the foot traffic. Sales Executives need an integrated strategy to drive traffic and conversion rates while protecting margin.

Clearly Colorado had one piece of the puzzle in the lead up to their demise – well trained salespeople. But their Administration seems to suggest that the other elements of the business were unable to react to the downturn during the GFC.

For salespeople the moral of this story is that the Friedman sales system works and by following it step-by-step you too can enjoy sales success. And I enjoyed the jumper for a number of years! Cheers Michael

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