Passions vs. Skills

Two wine sales reps.

Two different ways of doing business.

Sales rep number one has a passion for what she does. She is so into wine! It’s her life. It’s all about the aromas, the flavors, the food, and the occasional travel. Wine is first and foremost the creator of her energy. A wine sales rep with a passion for wine oozes and drips that energy into every sales call. The pour of the wine, the lifting of the glass, the great vintage! This is what she is in the business for! It can be off-putting to some buyers because she’s not necessarily looking at their business and profitability, only how good the wines are. At the end of the day, she reads endless wine books before falling asleep with a copy of The Wine Advocate in hand, dreaming about the 2010¬†Bordeaux vintage.

Sales rep number two has skills for the job. She has a spreadsheet of her accounts, has made sure all of her buyers are updated in her contacts, and keeps a tight Google calendar for the work week. When she walks into an account it’s business first, and business means numbers, profitability, and growth. Her style can be off-putting to some buyers because she’s not necessarily selling the wine in her hand (“do you like the wine?” never comes up) but rather the goals of what it can bring to the restaurant or retailer. Sales and territory growth is what she’s in this for, and at the end of the day, she falls asleep with a copy of The Little Red Book of Selling in hand.

One rep is not right, and one is not wrong. All of us fall into the spectrum in the middle.

The question is: where on the spectrum are you? And is that where you need to be to achieve the goals you have in your career?

Or, to turn this questioning on its head: what if you slid to the other side and took on a new persona for just one week?

(My final thought on this: passion is easy, skills are hard. The wine sales world has no lack of passionate people. But we always need more skillful people. The most successful wine sales reps I’ve met usually started from outside the wine or hospitality industry.)