I work for a 3 year old, family owned tequila company (25-30 employees) that produces high-end tequila headquartered in So Cal. Only been with them a few months and my sales started off extremely hot but i'm running into a few roadblocks. Getting the product placed isn't necessarily the hardest part, its getting the product off the shelves. I've been scheduling tasting with clients which allows me to walk around the bar/restaurant hand out free samples and tell them more about our brand and how we differentiate ourselves. Sometimes i'll be at a tasting for 3hrs and maybe have 3 people order a drink of our product which is beginning to look like a waste of time/ product. People will always taste the product and the feedback is great but getting them to actually order it is another story. Plus when im doing tastings during the work week not many people are wanting to order tequila, its mostly a weekend spirit. I'm starting to work on scheduling my big tastings on fridays.
The product costs the same as well known staples that are heavily marketed in our area like don julio and Casamigos i'm struggling getting patrons to order drinks. Our costs to the bars/restaurant are nearly 35-40% less than those brands (because we do our own distribution to keeps costs down) charge but since we sell retail at similar costs bars charge our product the same as those big brands. These brands also bend the rules and pay for menu placement which our company simply doesn't have the budget for and its technically illegal.
Not tooting our own horn but the product is incredible for the price point and has won multiple national awards, so it really is worth the premium ticket but influencing customers to switch up their go-to tequila for a new local brand is surprising a struggle so far.
to help persuade patrons to buy drinks I tell them if they order a drink they can get a free swag t-shirt or hat etc which sometimes works but it gets mixed reviews. Some are all about it others find it a bit schemy. Speaking of which another rep i work with tells the customers before they taste it, "if you like it you gotta order a drink" says he frames it in a more joking manner but he's getting success. When I've been using this line I notice the interaction more often than not gets a bit awkward and your placing the customer in an uncomfortable situation. I too frame it in a more joking manner but the last thing I want to do is make the customer feel forced to buy.
None of the 15+ liquor stores ive sold to have a tasting license so I can't set up a booth and sample the product for their customers and which has resulted in our product sitting collecting dust.
We aren't in any major retailers just yet like bevmo, total wine or trader joes, but that could be changing soon. Had a solid meeting at Costco with a regional buyer a couple weeks back but still awaiting a decision.
The big clubs, restaurants, and larger liquor stores main objection is that we are too new and not many people know about us in an already hyper-competitive space. They like the product when they sample it but said they wont bring us on until people start asking for it. Or they are so understaffed they aren't reevaluating their liquor portfolio just yet.
After this long-winded background my question to you guys would be:
What approach would you take at these tasting to influence customers to order our product?
How would you go about getting our name out in the community so more people try it out and start talking about it?