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Strategy when talking with liquor stores/retailers


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We just opened our distillery and are currently going out there making sales to liquor stores and retailers. I was just wondering if any one has any tips and tricks they want to share that is effective for them.

Right now we visit their location, provide them with a 50ml sample and sales sheet. This works fine but I noticed that most retailers we visit don't even care about the sample, so I am not even sure I need to include it. I did have several liquor stores asking for an entire bottle for free so they can put it on their shelf to test it out (one asked me for an entire case!) and they claimed that everyone does this if they want shelf space (seems shady!). I didn't give it to them.

I know this is a broad question but any tips would be great!

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OK. So selling to liquor stores is a complex, yet exceeding boring business. Because, retail is very staid. Also, the liquor stores you are likely to approach are already awash with product - so what are you going to sell them, vodka? Whiskey? Gin? What haven't they seen? Yawn.

The key to success, is understanding that your business model is different than the liquor store model. They have loads of product, so they only need to sell a selection of what they have to make a profit. You, on the other hand have to sell all of your product to make a profit. So - rather than trying to get into a lot of stores, focus on a few key stores that believe in you and who are willing to work to train their staff about your products. Sales staff who like your product will sell a lot of it. Sales staff that don't know about the product won't sell any.

Selling to retailers is pretty easy, set up an appointment, pop by with some tasters, expect to sell one or two sku(s) and see what happens - however, if the product doesn't sell to the end users, you won't get reorders and without re orders, you have no business.

Therefore, the responsibility to make your product successful is on you to figure out how to drive customers to those retailers once you get your products on the shelf because the retailers won't do it. Expect to spend at least a year and probably more to develop meaningful, stable demand for your products.

Effective sales and marketing are time consuming and expensive. There is no way around it.

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