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How to pitch to trade partners

Learn how to develop a compelling pitch to secure global distributors.

The 5 rules of trade partner pitches

Working with a good trade partner is key to building brand awareness in market, getting the appropriate product placement and increasing sales.

However, even after you’ve chosen your route to market and identified which trade partners to target, you will still need to convince them to actually work with you. 

Wine distributors have a portfolio of brands from different categories and countries, most of which are your direct competitors. So while consumers want to know how a wine tastes, how it’s made or how it will make them feel, distributors want to know the business benefits of including your brand in their portfolio. They need to understand how you are planning to make your wines sell and why you are a valuable business partner.  

Good trade partners are busy. They also get endless requests from wineries for representation, meaning your opportunity to stand out is limited. Follow these golden rules and prepare a personalised pitch to make your time with them count. 

1. Tell a compelling brand story

What is the narrative of your business that will connect with their market and audience? Start with a memorable hook – an opening line that is different, focussed and relevant. Even if they walk away with one piece of knowledge, as long as it stays with them, you’ve made an impression. 

The wine industry is rife with generic pitches that don’t actually differentiate the product. When developing your story, avoid overused terms such as innovative, new, world-class, -leading or -best, craft, quality, technology and tradition.

2. Personalise your pitch to each partner – and their audience

Remember that each market is different, and distributors tend to work in specific regions and with certain types of retailers. Understand the local distribution system and do your market research to learn who their consumers are and what drives their purchasing decisions. 

The key here is to ensure your story, customer benefits, price point, volumes and budget complement your partner’s portfolio. 

3. Show evidence of your success

Consider how you can demonstrate your brand has a proven track record with both consumers and retailers. This could include top-line sales figures from other vendors, positive customer engagement, or accolades and endorsements. Are there any wine publications, competitions or shows that help sell your success story within that market? Focus on facts rather than adjectives. E.g. ‘96 Gold, James Halliday Wine Companion 2021’ is far more convincing than ‘legendary wine’. Be sure your claim is relevant to your market. The US market, for example, is much more familiar with The Wine Advocate or Wine Spectator than James Halliday. 

4. Demonstrate marketing commitment and prowess

Distributors are looking for brands who will actively work alongside them to increase sales. Make it clear you will fully support their efforts with marketing campaigns, promotional materials, training, events, tastings, famils, social media and budgets – whatever they need to increase sales.  

5. Provide incentives for sales performance

Actively encouraging trade partners to meet your sales KPIs proves your dedication and commitment to achieving mutually-beneficial goals. This can include discounts and financial incentives, as well as non-financial incentives such as market exclusivity. 

Developing your trade partner pitch

Download trade partner pitch template

Use this trade partner pitch template to create a full pitch that can be used when in-market. While it’s unlikely you’ll actually say your pitch word for word, using the template helps you collate your key messages on a single page.

Depending on the circumstance of your pitch, you may also need a presentation or other supporting materials. Take a look at these articles to learn how to best prepare and conduct yourself at trade shows, during market visits or via online trade platforms. 

The elevator pitch

While a full pitch is best for face-to-face meetings, some scenarios will call for a shorter elevator pitch. If you’re planning on doing some cold calling, for example, and know your time is limited, consider how you could deliver a 30-second pitch covering the following:  

  • Our wines will sell because (30 words for the key story element)
  • We want to work with you because (30 words about why you will be an asset). 

Finding and securing the right trade partners can be the difference between export success or failure, so it pays to get your pitch right. But remember, trade and distributor relationships should be a mutually-beneficial partnership. You’re assessing potential trade partners, just as they are assessing you. So do your due diligence before signing any contracts.

New to market opportunity in South Korea

In partnership with Wine21, we have an opportunity for Australian wineries interested in exporting to this market to showcase their wines on the platform for importers to find as they are sourcing new brands for their portfolios, and contact producers directly. Showcasing your wine on this platform will give your brand exposure to importers and trade actively seeking new products as they look to create or expand their Australian wine portfolio.

This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.

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This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.