As a wine wholesale rep, the biggest trap you can fall into is to sell wine exactly like most of your competition does.
Watch the reps from other companies while they work. They make a ton of mistakes, constantly, yet those mistakes are often repeated by other reps. You can do better.
Six simple habits to increase the value and impact of a wine sales presentation
Let the buyer know you are coming. You don’t need a full month’s schedule mapped out in advance, but never show up without the buyer at least getting a phone call from you that you’re on your way. Some reps have set slots of time with certain buyers every week and that works great, too. But the key is to never show up without them knowing you’re coming. If you do, you’re implying that your time is worth more than theirs.
Set up your wines and confirm how much time they have to spend with you. It allows them to control the meeting to the extent that you want them to. It also allows the buyer to preview the wines, the number they are going to taste, the styles and regions, etc. before diving into tasting. Nothing is worse that not knowing how many more bottles the rep has in her bag or box, while the buyer’s mind starts thinking of all the stuff they have to do other than just taste wine.
Bring real stemware. We all agree that good stemware makes wine taste better. So why in the world would you allow your $50 Pinot Noir from Burgundy to be poured into a plastic cup? Buy a set of Riedel Overture Red glasses and a Riedel stemware bag and your success in wine sales will go up. Guaranteed.
Know where the wines you are presenting would fit in the store or restaurant. You have to do a touch of research when you walk in, but the impact can be enormous. An example: who needs yet another Chardonnay? Basically nobody. But when you mention that the shop has no Oregon Chardonnay and this one is delicious and oh, by the way, I noticed that one of your California Chardonnays (of which you have 20) is almost sold out, and here’s an article from the New York Times on how hot the Oregon Chardonnay market is, so how about we slide this one in there … you get the idea.
Always have a leave behind. A list of the wines poured at the least (it can even be handwritten, but use the company stationary). However the best reps will leave behind not only a list of the wines but also an article or two about the producer, variety, region, or style. That’s selling by educating and it works. In fact it works far more effectively than leaving behind the tech sheet from the winery (which is just another sales pitch).
Sell first, babble later. Business is business, and your job as a sales rep is to problem solve for your customer and use their time with you well. Get down to business as fast as you can, hit all the points you need to hit, and when you pack the wines back up and close your notebook with a good sale in hand only then ask how the kids are and if they’ve seen that great movie that just came out. It shows a respect of time, but more importantly it primes them to know that when you walk in the door it’s time to focus.
In conclusion, think about how many times you’ve seen this: a competing rep walks in without an appointment, interrupts the flow of the buyer’s day, starts asking all sorts of questions not related to wine or business, pulls out bottle after bottle under the guise of “but wait, there’s more!”, pours their wines into plastic cups, and doesn’t have any list of the wines or information to leave for the buyer.
Selling is not complicated, especially when your competition is pretty lazy. Don’t be like them. Don’t take on their bad habits.