Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Selling Ourselves

Right now, I am in one of the least appreciated positions in the wine and spirits industry; distribution rep. Granted, the company is fine, my coworkers are all very talented, and I truly enjoy building relationships with clients within my territory, but I recognize that look I receive when I walk through the door.

"This guy, again?" Yes. It's me, again. I am here because according to the three tiered sales system, you can't be trusted to buy directly from wineries. And, god knows, consumers need the protection of wineries being able to come directly to them. It is a drag when you might have a fantastic relationship with a producer, a family working hard to make beautiful wine in the hills of Sonoma, but because their wines aren't carried by a Illinois distributor, you can't sell them in your store. You can tell your consumers to buy directly, or go visit next time they're out there, but you don't see that on your bottom line.

So, here I am, big green bag filled with reds that have been sloshed around on my shoulder all day, and whites that have lost their chill despite the ice packs nestled in beside them. I am here to tell you why my wines work best for you and your retail store or restaurant. I am here to tell you about profitability and points and discounts and delivery days and service beyond compare. The next guy or gal waiting behind me? Forget about them, they're selling discount bulk plonk that will hurt you and your business. I am the real deal. I am the golden calf with the promises of only the best wines and the best deals for you, and only you. What about the restaurant across the street that I sell to as well? C'mon you know that they don't have the savvy that you do, and anyway, you and I are pals. Best friends. We'll talk about your family, kids, friends, the sport of the season, and we'll grab a lunch together because, I just want to hang out with my friend.

Except that this isn't me. I've been the buyer before and had sales reps do all of these things and more. I can't tell you about points and keep discounts in my back pocket. I want to work with you and see if there is anything that might work in my portfolio. I am not going to force it on you. I will tell you about the producers, if I know them. I will tell you what I have read, and if I don't know the answer, I am not going to lie. I like some of my clients very much, but, I don't have a company card to take them out to lunch. Frankly, I wish I could work for some of my clients. They're just good, smart people. People who know what they want to buy. I can show them wines that I think are gorgeous, and oftentimes we'll agree, but perhaps they know that none of their clients will buy them. And the wines will sit and languish, or they'll end up drinking them themselves rather than having them take up shelf space. Nobody wants this. Frankly, I want to sell you wine so I can keep my job, but if someone else has a better wine than I do, I will be the first to admit it.

So, yes, roll your eyes and dread another salesperson comin through the door. I Promise, I will try my hardest not to be the same old salesperson. And we'll never go to lunch together.