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As a supplier, you must know your supply chain on the tips of your fingers. One more thing you must also know is that your sales rep is the most important person in your supply chain.
How your brand is represented in front of retailers, restaurants, and bars is very important. You wouldn’t want the buyer to have a negative impression of your brand. Now think about this, who is actually representing your brand in front of the retailers?
Let’s look at this in a process format:
A winemaker, brewer, distiller, or brand owner creates a product that they are passionate about.
This product is then worked on and pitched to distributors to go ahead and sell in restaurants, bars, and retail stores.
Once the product is added to the distributor’s portfolio, it is then the job of the sales rep to go and sell the product.
So technically, your sales rep is the one representing your brand. Your sales rep is going to be the one who is going to go out and sell your products and create retail accounts for you. In one way, your sales rep is your brand ambassador, so how he/she will represent the product is how retailers will perceive your wine, beer, or spirits.
When your sales rep is pitching your product to an account, they have between 10 to 20 minutes to seal the deal. What happens between this time and after the pitch depends on the relationship the sales rep has with that particular account, and also on how the sales rep is representing your product in front of the account.
An account will most likely give your brand a try, based on the sales rep more than your actual brand. If your brand doesn’t have its ‘self-selling factors’ such as ratings, consumer demand, or something unique, then your product securing that account will depend solely on the sales rep who is representing your brand. So, in the 10-20 minutes that your sales rep is pitching your product to the account, your brand can either make it on a retail list or not. Once again, this highly depends on the sales rep and the way your sales rep portrays your product to the account.
So, as a brand owner, it’s very important to make sure that the sales rep is on your side, and is genuinely interested in selling your wine/beer/spirits. One of the ways to make sure that your sales rep is going to sell your product, and is going to enjoy selling it, is by building a good relationship with them.
As we’ve already established, it’s very important to build a good relationship with your sales rep, as they are the ones representing your brand in front of retailers. Just like every other industry, it all boils down to personal relationships and likeness. If you’re not a supplier that the sales rep likes, then there’s a high chance that they aren’t going to sell your wine/beer/spirits with all their heart.
Here are a few ways on how you can build a good relationship with your sales rep:
Meet them in person to discuss business
Meeting your sales rep in person to discuss the business from time to time will show your seriousness in selling your wine/beer/spirits. Your sales rep needs to know that you are completely into the process, and are still involved in things even after securing good accounts for your wine/beer/spirits. So sit with them, discuss business, ask about what is happening in the accounts and what is the next thing that you’re going to do to increase sales.
Maintain good communication
Communication is an essential part of any relationship, be it personal or work. It is important for your sales rep to know what you’re thinking, and it is also important for them to know that you appreciate their feedback and consider their opinions as well. If your sales rep thinks that there is a certain strategy that needs to be implemented in marketing and selling your product, then make sure you’re kept in the loop. In the end, they’re the ones putting your product out there, so it’s very important for them to feel like their opinions matter.
Keep them updated
Make sure you keep your sales rep updated with what’s going on with your business.
Are you producing something new?
How much time are you going to take in producing something new?
Until when will you be able to give them the supply of your wine/beer/spirits?
This will give the sales rep an idea about what to do next with your products, and since they will already have a prior update from you, it will make their job easier.
Show your appreciation
From time to time, it’s important to appreciate your sales rep. A great way to show appreciation is by taking them out or sending Christmas cards, or sometimes an extra bottle of wine/spirits, or just a thank you note. If your sales rep feels appreciated and feels like what they’re doing for you is paying off, then they will continue putting a good amount of effort in selling your product.
Help in marketing and sales
Sales reps love suppliers who make their jobs easier. Reach out to your sales rep and ask what you can do to help. In fact, give them marketing material, hold tastings, and build consumer awareness through your own marketing strategies. This way, when the sales rep goes to pitch your product to an account, it will make their job easier since they already have the marketing materials, and they don’t have to work on anything extra by themselves. This will show the sales rep that you’re ready to go all in, and you’re ready to take your growth and sales to the next level by helping them - which will only motivate them to sell more of your wine/beer/spirits.
So, the next time you get in touch with your distributor, remember how important your sales rep is, and how important it is to build a good relationship with them.