Tell and Show

When we are young, we have Show and Tell in elementary school. Then we grow up and become wine sales reps. And we continue our version of Show and Tell. We pop the cork, we show the wine, then we tell. Flip it around. Tell and Show. It works better that way. Tell your customer Read More…

The problem with being the first to say it

Sometimes the truth needs to be said. The problem is somebody has to say it first. “This brand really doesn’t fit our portfolio or our company style.” “That customer is not good for our business, even if they buy more and more wine.” “Your technique in selling is too abrasive and confrontational.” “The cigarettes you Read More…

Screwing up (gracefully)

You dropped the ball. Screwed up royally. There are no excuses. Somebody is going to be mad. The owner’s manual on screwing up gracefully reads pretty simply: Own it. Don’t make excuses. Don’t try to hide. Apologize. Hope for the best. Then apologize again. Too bad more people don’t have a copy of the owner’s Read More…

Proven and tested vs. taking a chance

When taking wine out to show to your accounts, take a moment to think about how you’ll present the wine in the context of the rest of the marketplace. A wine that has been proven and tested can be a big brand, stacked high at all other retailers, on the top ten hot brands list, Read More…

When problems happen

In the wholesale wine biz, life can seem like an ever-ending pattern of putting out fires. Wrong pricing. Wrong delivery. I need it NOW. I needed it yesterday. And on and on. The organizational structure of most wholesalers treats problems the same: “we will solve the problems as they come up because we believe in Read More…

The myth of the overnight wine success

What is this wine and where did it come from?? It’s suddenly everywhere! Who is that sales rep that is mopping up business all over town? Nobody knows anything about her! Overnight successes are found in all industries, including ours. Some brands, from previously unknown wineries and tiny weird distributors, shoot into a city like Read More…

The communication quandary

The single biggest problem wine wholesalers have is simple and universal: communication of important information. Nobody does it well. Nobody. What’s new in the portfolio? What’s leaving the portfolio? What is out of stock? What containers just arrived? Which sales rep left? What sales reps just got hired? When is the next portfolio tasting? Who is Read More…

What’s your one great talent?

We all have one. The one talent that we can say with confidence “I’m better at that than most.” When I was selling wine for a local fine wine wholesaler, I learned over time what my great talent was: dealing with problem customers. If somebody was pissed of, if they kicked out their previous sales rep, Read More…

What is focus?

The process of “focus” gets bantered about endlessly, especially at wine distributor sales meetings.  “You have to focus on this line of wines.” “We need focus on this important importer.” “You have to focus better on our number one account.” “We have to focus on getting that wine on that wine list.” In this light, Read More…

The stories you hear

Rarely does a customer tell you a story just for entertainment. In fact, it’s incredibly rare. Stories are told to tell you the reason or justification why an account is doing something. Or, if that’s not the case, they are asking for something without asking it directly. Stories about other sales reps screwing up? It’s an Read More…