I have spent a week on the road with clients. 3 days at LibDib launch party working with company leadership on the changing three tier landscape. 3 days in NYC with two clients on sales strategy and national marketing plans. Tomorrow, I am flying to Chicago to drive to Milwaukee to meet w a distributor. The life a road warrior and brand advocate.
One thing that remains top of mind as the blender of consolidation looms and more and more brands continually come to market. The missing piece of sales!
Sales, that 5 letter word that can drive any brand into and out of business. Sales, say it loudly and its a cheer, say it softly and its a complaint.
Sales is what we are all doing at all levels of this business. No matter what tier of the three tier you are in- you will be defined by your sales volume always, and you can surely dress it up with marketing, tastings, brand activation but at the end of the day, sales will define what we are all doing. Me included and my work with clients.
The wave of consolidation at the distributor level along with the continual squeezing of gross margin will cause a seismic shift in how brands goto market. I believe and have learned, heard, been told as much, that distributors will be trimming sales staff to cover only key brands. Those blessed top 300 brands will get the use of all that their 30% commission will buy, while the other 99% of portfolio brands will be left to fend for themselves.
Listen up brands, and this is serious, you will need to invest in a sales force that you control.
I would look at this as a real line item in your PL for your brands for Q4 2017 and beyond. Distributors need to make choices, and your brand might not be a chosen one. I get it, I do!
This is the reality as I see it. We have seen much change over the last 18 months and there is more to come. As industry watchers and prognosticators we are encouraging all brands to think beyond holiday 2017 and look to what 2018 will look like. My crystal ball sees a world where brands put teams on the ground to work with distributors. Sales teams to support the brand in market with activations, hand sells, tastings, on/off premise meet and greets, etc.
No one will work for us if we do not work for ourselves.
This is the current reality. Sales drive success and success is driven by how you react to a new sales shadow that is likely to happen.