Do’s and Don’ts for Great Wine Distributor Meetings
If there is one thing to remember in the wine business, it’s that distributors and wineries are not of the same species! However, in the U.S. wine market the survival of both depends on them working together. It’s critical that wineries have a clear understanding of how to maximize face time with distributors in order to successfully execute a great wine sales strategy. So, what’s the secret handshake you’re wondering?
Well, there is no secret handshake. But, while helping wineries assess their under-performing distribution network, I’ve observed severe miscommunication resulting in ineffective meetings, dare I say wasted time. Witnessing this repeat pattern first hand, I thought I’d share some helpful information for wineries to get the most out of their distributor meetings:
- Give yourself lead time. It’s best to plan your review meeting well in advance because you will be more likely to get a meeting on a day and time that you request. You will also have as many distributor managers as possible who are involved in your brand attend. (Kindly request attendance of responsible parties, but be willing to accept if not all requested members are able to attend.)
- Do your homework. Distributors are more likely to agree with what you are asking for if you are prepared for a meeting with accurate and complete information.
- Be clear and concise. Leave no room for misinterpretation.
- Start and end at the time that has been provided to you.
- Keep the group on topic otherwise you will not be able to accomplish your meeting objectives.
- Present ideas that are reasonable and relevant to the market and actionable.
- Take control of the meeting – this is your meeting to discuss what you need accomplished to build your brand.
- Assign responsibility and accountability to both the distributor and yourself.
- Send a follow-up email within 24 hours of the meeting to keep everyone focused on their responsibilities. Remember, after your meeting it is highly likely that other wineries will be meeting with your distributor asking for more time and attention, too.
- Check in and follow up regularly until all the agreed upon actions have been completed. That way you won’t be out of sight and out of mind.
- Don’t show up with a half-baked presentation or without hard copies of your presentation (that has also been sent electronically).
- Don’t spend unnecessary time talking about an issue in front of all attendees when the issue pertains to just one sales manager. This is a way for you to quickly loose interest from other attendees.
- Don’t present ideas that are not actionable or reasonable for the distributor. Distributors will not entertain ideas that they know won’t work or will take up too much time.
- Don’t try to run the meeting without an agenda with clear meeting points (that have been sent ahead).
- Don’t leave sales managers who are involved with your brand out of the meeting. Secondhand doesn’t have equal impact.
Happy Meetings ~ GP