There are basically four types of wine sales reps.
- Brand new, green, inexperienced but excited.
- Established, productive, successful, and still very much excited about the industry.
- Established, productive, successful, but pretty entrenched and doesn’t want things to change.
- Very experienced, continuing to be successful, but complaining about any rumor of anything shifting.
You can see the ones that are going upward, the ones that are staying steady, and the ones for whom the world will eventually pass them by.
For the ones going upward, what does that mean? And what if you’re a wine rep that wants to look forward five or ten years and no longer be a wine rep?
Here is where the dilemma lies.
A great wine sales rep has developed a certain skill set that makes her successful. Customer management, attention to detail, sales pitch styles, the art of closing the deal, putting out fires, hitting sales goals, etc.
The problem is that skill set does not necessarily translate into success on the next level, be it wholesale management, winery representation, or import management.
The next level demands skills that are hard to quantify onto a resume, and often hard for a wine sales rep to learn on their own. People management, leadership, employee grooming, vision development, the nuance of hiring and firing, the balance between profitably and investment. This is why many of the best sales reps do not end up being good managers.
So to be a wine sales rep that rises to the next level, whatever that means, you have to actively learn about things other than sales. Learn about leadership, learn about vision, learn about business and corporate structure. Find ways to gently integrate it into your life (it doesn’t necessarily have to be your daytime work life … being on a volunteer board for the local park or school covers much of this). By learning these skills you suddenly have far more options in your work life and in your future.
And it goes without saying, all of this only applies to half of the four types of sales reps.