We travel. We travel a lot. Our whole team is on the road weekly working with suppliers, distributors, and accounts. It is our feeling that it is critical to be in the face of the client to create a relationship of trust and a connection. In this day and age of social posting and wireless calling, it is often neglected that to get a deal done you need to be in the face of your target. Today, myself and our National head of sales are headed to Boston, then New York to meet with distributors, on-board a new brand, and see our MA/ NY sales teams. This is what we do, and this is why BevStrat works.
Sitting in my usual seat of 9C I am seated next to the CEO of a major Chilean wine brand. Total coincidence. It was not intentional and was not planned at all. I put my bag up and he is on the phone talking about cases and pricing. I, of course, chimed in, and asked if he was in the booze “game.” He replied yes with a tone that let me know that he has been in the game as long or longer than I have been alive. We sat for 1.5 hours talking about common connections, relationships, distributors, accounts, importers and the like. It was a refreshing ride and perhaps we have a new client, who knows?
But, it was disturbing to hear the following. As we went through our list of common partnerships and relationships it occurred to me that this fellow, with 800,000 cases sold in 2017 was in the same boat as the 1000 case seller in Mobile, Alabama or any-town USA. This man that has been at the wine selling game for 45+ years is still struggling for cases. What a disheartening realization. We spoke about mass march, chain accounts and large regional independent chains and the story was the same. Can you introduce me to XXXX at YYYY so I can pitch my brand?
What hope does the rest of us have? What opportunity does the 50,000 independent brands out there globally have to sell into the Three Tier system with depletion success if this guy was at 800K cases and still looking for introductions?
Well, there is hope! As he and I continued to talk and by now we are somewhere over Flint, Michigan, the conversation began to skew towards selling support and retailer engagement. Those are all things that we love to hear from a supplier.
Wine that is under $10.00 US is bought by price (generally). Wine that is 11.99 and up starts to enter the quality/value game. Do not waste time selling your brands that are <10.00 on quality. Sell them for what they are. Good value brands that the off premise account can deplete or the on premise account can pour by the glass. Your sales call will go much better when you are honest about your place in the ecosystem and the retailer is clear on its place on the shelf. Support your goods in the market! Do not sell it and forget about it. If you follow my weekly writing you are well aware that the SECOND sale is more important than the first sale. When an account makes their short list at 6am- you want to be on that list, and that list is made by looking at sales reports and empty shelf spots. Supporting your brand in market, getting into the market personally and selling your brand for what it is will all help your cause. Distributors will not, especially with merger fever, build and grow your brand. That is all on the maker.
There is a reason we are on a plane. There is a reason that the guy in 9B is also heading to Boston. We are going to support our team and see accounts and visit a distributor and see a Celtics game. He is going see accounts and see his distributor. In this early part of the year, when new brands are coming to market and old brands are (or will be) dropped from big distribution, it is critical that the maker/supplier get into market and sell your goods. I am sitting next to a guy that sold 800,000 cases in 2017. That is a sales number that EVERY ONE of the brands we sell would love to see as a year end number. December brands are built in the 1st quarter. Hope to see you all on a plane in the near future. Happy Selling !