The Playbook: Losing a brand

Every wine wholesaler needs a series of playbooks. These are plans and protocols that you pull out when the inevitable happens. When you lose a sales rep, when you hire a new sales rep, when you bring on a new brand, and of course when you lose an important brand.

Here’s a quick outline for your own “losing a brand” playbook.

  1. Take ownership and stay positive. Don’t disparage the brand and definitely don’t start talking about how “it really hasn’t been good the last couple of years.” Yesterday you sold it happily and today you can’t … if it hasn’t been good the last couple of years why did you keep selling it?
  2. Make a list of everybody who currently carries it, and bring restaurants that serve it by the glass to the top of the list. Contact each customer and be the one to tell them the news, assuring them of a window of inventory. Most importantly, let them know you’ll be coming with solutions.
  3. Come with solutions. Three or four ideas to save that placement. This has to be done quick, within days of telling them of the loss, for the moment savvy competition finds out about the situation they will pounce like crows on the carcass of your hard earned placement.
  4. Lastly, stay on the high road. Go back into your list and thank each buyer personally for their support over the years for that brand. “Sucks that we don’t have it anymore, but we have some great ideas and exciting things to replace it with.” Why? Because you want to associate your wholesale branding with positiveness and partnership. By saying thank you for the years of support of the freshly lost brand you inherently imply we are in this together.

If you have this laid out in a playbook, you can instantly pull it out when needed and simply put it into gear. Makes the pain of losing a brand far less.

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