Sometimes paper is better

Your customers, the wine buyers at both the restaurant and retail level, need one fundamental thing. Without this, it the sales relationship falls apart. With it, it grows stronger over time and builds in accountability on both sides.

Communication.

But here is a trap many fall into — thinking that email is communication.

It can be, but more often than not (especially today, with the tsunami of digital crap coming into the inbox constantly) the impact of an email pales in comparison to in-person and on-paper communication.

Email is good for the short, the needed, the here and now. But sometimes having the info on paper and presenting in person helps with deeper impact and understanding. The info becomes a conversation instead of a billboard.

But how do you make sure you tell everything to every account that needs it? Here’s the trick.

A document can be made that pulls info in from a specific spreadsheet (usually called a ‘merge’ or ‘mail merge‘ function … the kind of thing that puts names and address on a letter). Make a spreadsheet with the name of every account in your run in one column. Then once a week write all the highlights of the week (new arrivals, focus items, tastings, whatever) on one document and print with the merge setting on. Thus you get a page for each account, with their account name on top. “Big updates for {merged name}.” Put all of these sheets in a folder, and by seeing which sheets are left, you know instantly who hasn’t received the info.

Why do this on paper? Isn’t email more efficient? Yes, email is more efficient¬†for the sender but it contains no accountability for the recipient. In other words, you don’t know if they have read it. Or if they say they read it, did they understand it?

By printing things up, pulling them out on a weekly sales call, and stepping the buyer through the information, you as a sales rep have checked off the box. They now know what they need to know from you, and most importantly: you know they know. 

There is a time and a place for email. But there is also a time and a place for paper.