Every market has them, usually on the wholesaler or retail side. I call them The Wine Wizards, because they often look the part. White hair, a look in their eye, an air of wisdom and voice of knowledge.
They have decades of experience.
They have traveled the world.
They have more stories about meeting great winemakers than you (think) you’ll ever have.
They can recount the 1982 Bordeaux vintage like it was yesterday. They talk about the state of Burgundy in the 1970’s.
They are often men because men dominated the wine industry when they started.
They are a different generation. An older generation.
Respect them, yes. Use them as an excuse to not sell your wine as well as you think you should be able to? No.
Wine Wizards are people too. They have ups and downs. They have problems and joys. They have personal issues. They work hard. And while it may seem that the wine wizards can walk into an account, wave a magic wine key, and *poof* they have stacks of wine on every endcap, that is not actually the truth.
What they have going for them is experience, which another way of saying they have learned to deal with “no” more than you. Their magic power is not based on a magic wand but rather on experience with interactions and the subtleties of selling, combined with a large network of people they know. In other words, all the good stuff that comes with time.
How do you compete with them if you don’t have decades of experience, stories, anecdotes, tales, and sales tricks? There are many ways. Work harder. Work smarter. Show up on time. Follow up. Focus on getting your workhorse wines into the account, while they wax poetic about Condrieu (no sales rep ever paid their mortgage by selling Viognier, sorry). Prove to the buyer your reliability and honesty. Be consistent. Don’t be intimidated.
And a final trick: learn from the wizards. The Wizards thrive in an environment of attention. They, just like all of us, simply want to be heard and loved. Ask them questions. Get to know them. They will give, because that’s what great salespeople do.
They don’t have magical powers. They are people too.