At Parna we’re proud to say that we’ve been a part of the vape industry for over 6 years. In our time recruiting within the vape and e-cigarette industry we’ve built numerous sales teams from different companies from fresh SMEs to internationally-renowned vape businesses.

During this time the most important thing you begin to notice is the pattern of trends. Recently we’ve been seeing a large increase in businesses who want to expand their sales teams to hit convenience stores. We’ve put together some essential points to consider first.

The Hunter / Farmer split

Before we get into specifics, it’s important to acknowledge the broad truths. First and foremost, there are two sorts of sales people. You’ve got hunters who are hungry and will kick down new doors for you, and farmers that will nurture and maintain current accounts.

Neither one is better than the other but you do need to know how best to apply their abilities. You can acquire Business Development Managers who can do both, but that’s a real rarity. Instead, check your data and build a proper profile before deciding which one to recruit

Choose your first areas wisely

People’s spending habits, vape knowledge and disposable income varies from city to city. For example, London and the South coast have traditionally seen a faster uptake of new products when compared to the North East. Simultaneously, since most new businesses target London as their first territory, competition can be rife. Do your research properly before you consider rolling out.

A different hat to vape shop sales

The why and the how of selling to a vape shop compared to c-stores is a whole world apart! C-stores are solely focused on profit on return, which means they’re concerned about holding stock they might not be able to shift. Vape shops, on the other hand, will buy based on trends and the internal mechanics of the device. That’s why we suggest having different sales people for c-stores and vape shops.

Keep your KPIs relevant

You should put a lot of emphasis on creating relevant KPIs in line with building your c-store team. The minimum amount of stores a rep should be visiting is between 10–12 per day. This is very different to vape stores, where we generally see an average of 3–8 per day.

Once again this means ensuring you need to align your KPIs to your focus, because the same KPIs you had when selling to vape stores won’t necessarily apply. So, if you want to open new doors, increase the bonus earning potential on this KPI. Likewise, if you need to increase the spend per store then incentivise your team accordingly.

Wholesale channel

The route to market is very important. If you employ a strong wholesale National Account Manager to open the distribution channels for you, it will open the door for central billing. Simultaneously, it’ll massively help increase sales since retailers can buy from the cash and carry directly at their convenience.

It’s not a race to the bottom

Look in any c-store and you’ll see that cigarettes are around £10 per box, yet there seems to be an ongoing war to bring out the cheapest liquid and offer the most amount of free stock to retailers.  People appreciate premium, quality products: take hold of the gap in the market!

Don’t underestimate the scale

There are over 50,000 c-stores in the UK. Some are independent and some linked to buying groups such as Bookers. Either way, if you’re looking to cover the whole of the UK, you’ll need a sales team that scales efficiently.

When you’re reviewing your profit and loss alongside size, take into consideration that it can take between 6–9 months before a sales rep becomes profitable for your business, especially when starting a territory from scratch.

If you are looking for further advice on building a team, please feel free to contact one of our vape experts at Parna or 01212274767 to discuss further.

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