Securing A Distributor For Your Craft Spirit
For the most part, on this topic I tend to give the same advice for both national and international brands.
Before you get a distributor, you have to build your brand. Period. There really is no way around it. Fortunately, there are companies that facilitate this. Strategic Distributors.
They import, warehouse and deliver your product. The only thing they do not do is sell. That is completely your responsibility.
Now that you understand this, the rest is fairly simple. A good sales team would consist of at least one full time salesperson, and a team of brand ambassadors to execute tastings.
This allows your salesperson to secure as many accounts as possible, and ensure repeat orders from those accounts by proving tastings. This way the account knows you stand behind your brand. But more importantly, you get your product into the hands of buyers who have never heard of you.
This is a double win because ideally you would now have a loyal customer and a happy retailer.
One word of caution. When you have secured your distributor, do not make the mistake of getting rid of your sales team. Very much the opposite, that is when you should acquire additional support staff.
It will take your distributor a while to gain momentum, and do not forget that this is a relationship based business. To have someone who the market is already familiar with work hand in hand with the distributor is a sure formula for success. But more importantly is to let your distributor know that your brand is also coming with sales support. That would almost guarantee their agreement to add your to their portfolio.
This is no magic formula in this business. What works for one brand may not work for another. But setting consistent, achievable goals over time, is a sure way to secure and maintain market share.