Yesterday I wrote about the problems with large, commodity, goofy, and quotas. If you haven’t read that article, please check it out, for it puts this one in context.
I bumped into four people that read yesterday’s post. Two of them worked for very small distributors and basically gave me a high five. “Thanks for telling it like it is!” one of them said. The other two work for a large distributor and said “What do you have against us?”
All four of them read it the wrong way. A large distributor doesn’t automatically qualify you as a bad distributor, and a small distributor doesn’t qualify as good. There is nothing wrong with commodity, for big brands exist in every category of retail and trade. Goofy wines sell well, and if they get people to open the wine door and walk into our room, I can’t fault them. And quotas can be a way to incentivize, track, and reward if done right.
What I was writing about were the potential (and all too common) problems that come with big wine business in particular.
So if you do work for a gigantic wine wholesaler, here are some hints and tips:
You have to be human, and have opinions. You can’t sell wine based on scores and marching orders. Take the time to educate yourself further about not only your products, but wine in general.
You can’t assume that the largeness and the long history of your large company is an asset. Buyers (heck, people in general) are attracted to the new and shiny. They also want to support the small and under-represented. It’s human nature. So you have to figure out ways to make it more about you, your trust, your knowledge, and the small part of a larger entity that you represent.
You need to be careful when taking out the biggest of the brands. You can’t let the brand define you, rather you have to define the brand. Dropping off the full line up of Mommy’s Happy Juice at a retailer and saying “try them out, they sell great!” is not selling. Take one, the best one, make it work, and grow it from there.
You have to figure out ways to counter the uphill battle you have before even setting foot in an account. Do they know you? Do they know your company? Do you know what they think of your company? What is your competition saying about you? How do you counter that? All of this before you even make the first pitch.
You have to realize that a door cracked open is not an invitation to kick it. An invitation to try a wine or two is not permission to bring in the whole line, set up massive tastings, and act like you’re taking over the world. Slow and steady will win the race, always.
The final thing to remember, no matter what size company you work for, is that you’re an individual that is building a reputation for yourself (and your company) in the wine marketplace, and therefore the ultimate goal should always be for a higher purpose than just sales.