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 customer service.” This is fine except that it means 100 different things to 100 different sales reps.

When are your sales reps to bring up the problems to management? By bringing management into the problem solving not only are there more troops on the ground to solve the problem, but you get the collective knowledge of the group to strategize. However, the other side of the coin is that some sales reps might cry wolf or bring petty problems to the table, thus slowing down everyone’s momentum.

When are your sales reps empowered to solve problems on their own? Of course ideally all reps solve all problems on their own, but what if it costs something? What if to quickly and easily solve a problem a rep has to quickly and easily offer six bottles free of a product? Can they do that without bothering management?

Maybe the bigger question is this: how many wholesalers have even had a discussion with their reps (much less an company plan) on how to approach and solve problems?

Maybe THAT is the real problem.