Selecting a Craft Beverage Distributor Part 6: Sealing the Deal with a Distributor

When that long-awaited deal with your ideal distributor comes through, all the patience and perseverance will seem worth it. However, the work isn’t done. Now, it’s time to seal the deal with some questions, discussions, and paperwork.

What to Ask

As you begin to move to the next stage with your ideal distributor, you may need to ask more questions to ensure it’s the right fit.

  • What other specialty brands does the distributor carry and what is their track record of success with these specialty brands?
  • Is there a dedicated brand manager or salesperson who will be responsible for your branded products?
  • Will the distributor be able to sell all of your product lines if you have more than one?
  • Is there flexibility during certain seasons where there may be additional products you want to offer?
  • Does the distributor’s sales staff undergo regular training?
  • What type of metrics are used to track sales and competitor activity?
  • Are there any delivery minimums?

The Legal Side 

Part of sealing the deal with any distributor involves addressing some legal issues related to pricing and margins. As the supplier, it is your responsibility to put together a contract. You will also need to decide on a distribution agreement that has an expiration date and addresses any termination requests. Rather than provide you with legal advice, we recommend that you get professional legal help to draw up this agreement.

The distribution agreement should also cover contact frequency, what should be discussed, and interaction like when and if there will be retail outlet ride-alongs. Decisions must also be made about how you will help educate your distributor partner’s sales staff so they can market your products appropriately.

Final Tips on Your Distribution Relationship

At first, it can seem daunting to identify the right distribution company for your craft liquor branded products. The best approach is to be thorough, decisive, proactive, persuasive, diligent, and organized in how you research, negotiate, pitch, and work with a distributor.

Do your homework when it comes to understanding the distribution regulations for your ideal geographic territory. Know what makes your product standout and create promotional kits when pitching to your shortlist of distributors. Be patient and know that the process will take time but that it will be worth all the effort.