Each month, ForceBrands partners with The Tasting Panel magazine. The Tasting Panel offers an insider’s look at the tastemakers and trendsetters in today’s growing beverage industry. From winemaker profiles, to brands that are the bartenders’ best friend, this monthly publication gets up close and personal with today’s influencers and explores the products they love the most. With a readership of 85,000 professionals across all levels of the industry, The Tasting Panel maintains its position as a leading authoritative voice in the beverage industry. This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of The Tasting Panel.

ForceBrands’ Hot Shot feature in The Tasting Panel magazine’s March issue zeroed in on Breckenridge Distillery‘s Gustavo Valverde who takes pride in selling the luxury brand. We caught up with him to learn more about his career and what he finds most exciting about the state of the beverage industry right now.

ForceBrands: You’ve spent nearly 15 years in wine and spirits — tell us about your current role.
Gustavo Valverde: As a Regional Director of Sales, I am responsible for negotiating financial terms with the wholesalers that distribute our portfolio, analyzing selling costs and margins, and managing the supply chain. A crucial aspect of the role of Regional Director is building programming that will execute the strategic direction of the business unit across the channel segments; the strategic direction is focused on driving depletions through distribution to deliver the annual profit plan, all while growing brand equity.

FB: What are some industry trends you’ve observed take shape in the past year or so that will help define the future of the beverage space?
GV: Technology is having a huge impact on our business starting with geo-based sales and analytical data in real time, supply chain traceability, all the way through direct interactions with our customers via social platforms: and social media interactions have now migrated from impressions to direct transactions.

FB: Given your successful track record in sales, what advice would you give to someone looking to succeed in your role? What qualities should he/she possess?
GV: Early in my career, I struggled to find a manager who deeply understood our industry. My advice is to identify a team and a strong mentor who will nurture and coach you. It’s critical for your career progression. An ideal mentor is someone who understands cross-disciplinary functions. This is key because sales, distributor management, strategy, supply chain, and most importantly the finance and accounting component, will differentiate you from the average supplier.

FB: What’s one of your favorite products to sell and why?
GV: Breckenridge whiskey of course! Our industry has moved from selling products to selling brands, now shifting from selling brands to selling experiences and services surrounding these brands.

To sell a luxury brand like Breckenridge is a joy, having an authentic story to share is an advantageous tool when engaging the market place.

FB: If you could work in any other part of the industry, what would you be doing?
GV: Each morning, I wake to the sector and region of the industry that provides a complex tapestry of wholesaler organizations, state laws and rules, and a knowledgeable and passionate clientele. These complex factors challenge my mind and help me to be a better professional. I am fortunate to be doing what I love, I would not change a thing.

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