Hi this is Scott,
I'm currently in Wilmington North Carolina working the market. In the old days, before the internet, we sold 90% of our wines through distributors located through out the US. Because of the consolidation of the distribution system, it has gotten harder and harder to sell this way. It seems the distribution system is becoming more and more viable only for the large volume wines leaving us small producers out. It normally cost two to three thousand dollars to work a market by the time you have paid for plane fair, hotels, car rental, meals, samples and wages. Used to be that visiting a market was an automatic 100 to 150 case order. Today, it is usually less than 50 cases. Luckily, along came the internet and we have been able to supplement our distributor sales with higher margin direct sales. This actually ends up helping the distributors. What happens is that through internet sales, people who had no chance to taste our wines, now do. They find out about the wines through our websites and blogers, order it and find out they like it. They end up telling their local wine shops about us, who then tell their distributors and our wines find distribution by created demand. Because of direct shipping cost through UPS, the wines still end up being about the same price and in some cases even less through the local wine shops. i.e. This is why I'm currently sitting in a hotel room in Wilmington, North Carolina waiting for my ride with to show up, while a driving rain storm is raging outside my window.
Us long timers, all have our ride with stories. On the whole they are with dedicated interesting hard working people. Only yesterday I was riding in a BMW SUV stopped in a long line of traffic when WHAMMY, we were hit from behind. Everyone was fine, my ride with was shook up. I felt so bad for both my ride with and the poor girl who totaled her Toyota . I remembered a ride with I had years ago in Napa Valley. When the salesperson showed up late he was all disheveled. It seems some one had stolen the passenger seat out of is Toyota Celica. I rode around all day setting on a chicken crate. Just think what would have happened if it was his car that got rear ended while I was sitting on the chicken crate.
When working the market we try to accomplish a number of things. First we want to meet the owner or manager for a meeting with the decision maker. In the meeting we determine direction, pricing, any incentives, etc. Second we want to schedule a sales meeting with the sales staff to get them familiar with our wines and our story, bring by any promotions and basically get them excited about why our wines are special. Next it goes to a one on one with sales people by doing work withs were I ride around with a sales person visiting their accounts trying to get our story out to the accounts. Finally, the next step is the customer, were I'm scheduled for in store tastings, winemaker dinners and charity auctions. Needless to say, your day starts around 10 AM and doesn't end till midnight each day. When I get back on the plane to go home, I'm ready to see Jana and enjoy some nice quite time and a glass of wine when I get home.