A month has past since Masùt was awarded the Best Wine award at the " Drink The Best Wine in Japan" event. The event sort of gave me a big push and I am now more active in making phone calls and visiting restaurants to have restaurnnteers, bartenders and servers taste our wine. Our company stared out as a trading company focused only on medical goods back in 2008 and this September marked our 10th year. We have a good distribution channel for our medical products division. Our primary customers for this division are wholesalers, so we don’t sell directly to clinics and hospitals which consume our products, as they buy through wholesale channels. As a result, my promotional activity for our medical products has consisted of exhibiting at medical seminars and conferences to introduce and demonstrate our products to those who actually use them.
Seeking to develop some rather uniques opportunities our company has been offered outside of medical products however, led to the creation of a food division within our company, which includes foreign wines and spirits. Due to my interest, education and now liceinsing in this area, the company has allowed me to develop this segment of our business in Japan. The hard truth is, we took a big leap into this area and I've had to develop the supply channel from scratch. I didn't know the players, the rules or the market. I figured that most businesses in Japan have a pretty stable distribution system where wholesalers play a big role, so at first, I approached the wholesalers, but soon learned that the market is very saturated with products and no one wants to offer their limited warehouse space to "a wine no one knows."
As I visited restaurants and bars I began to realized that it’s hard for them to commit to a case of wine with the limited space they have in their wine cellars. So they prefer to buy through wholesalers, because that way they can have other wines consolidated in a case delivery. Wholesalers say they don't have room, buyers say they need to order from a wholesaler. Both parties are sincere. It is just a really tough, well established distribution system to work your way into.
Well, the situation hasn’t improved much, but this brand is now more valuable than it was when we first imported it and my sales pitch is definitely more convincing than was only a few months ago. I think I am getting good at picking restaurants and I'm becoming more successful at getting appointments. Even though rejection is a part of this process, I learn something new from most of the people I have a chance to visit with and I often get referrals to other restaurants. But best of all, I’m not scared of being rejected anymore, I got over it, which is huge for me.
I must confess that, since my childhood, the only job I didn’t want was a salesperson. LOL. What I've learned however is that experience makes you stronger, like exercising your muscles, as long as you don’t give up trying. When I think back, I was pretty shy when I started exhibiting our products at medical conferences a decade ago. I was scared because I didn’t speak the technical language of the industry and so I felt afraid to field questions. I’d spend my time in our booth hiding behind the back of a petite dental hygienist who helped us at exhibitions in those days and who explained everything clearly and confidently while demonstrating our products. After a few years of experience listening to and assisting her, I was no longer scared of anything having to do with our products and the industries they support. I even became a bit of an expert in the field, by listening to all of the lectures I was able to attend and from leading small lecturers myself while exhibiting.
I suppose, with the wine and spirits business I’m planting seeds right now and earning my chops. It’s hard to tell when and how many of my efforts will bare fruit, but I have faith that liquor to the lips (tastings) and feet on the street (persistence) must be the way to do business in this field. You have to meet a lot of people and they need to taste things for themselves. A few years ago, I thought we would hold a big 10 years anniversary party this September, but life has not been so easy for me lately. I guess I'll plan on having a big 15 years anniversary party instead!