Entry Level Sales Rep Position - Any Pointers, tips?

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Dusty Gillson
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Entry Level Sales Rep Position - Any Pointers, tips?

#1 Post by Dusty Gillson » April 22nd, 2014, 1:01 pm

My wife has been considering the possibility of entering the wine industry via a sales rep position for some time now, but the opportunities just do not come up very often and it seems to be a hard nut to crack. Recently a local distributor posted a position opening for an entry-level sales position. This particular distributor carries largely very high quality wines (think Leroy, ABC, Elio Altaire, etc.).

My wife has probably 10x the normal consumer's knowledge of wine but probably 1/10 that of the wine reps we know and respect. She wants to go after it, but I thought I would throw this out there and see if any ITB'ers out there had any sage words of wisdom on either how to pursue the application or what to expect starting out if she gets it. Thanks in advance, you guys always come through. [cheers.gif]
Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something clever. - Aristophanes

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Roberto Rogness
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Entry Level Sales Rep Position - Any Pointers, tips?

#2 Post by Roberto Rogness » April 22nd, 2014, 1:52 pm

Does she like to drive....a LOT? How does she handle constant rejection?
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Peter Tryba
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Entry Level Sales Rep Position - Any Pointers, tips?

#3 Post by Peter Tryba » April 22nd, 2014, 5:19 pm

Rule 1: Show up
Rule 2: Follow up
Rule 3: Repeat
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Entry Level Sales Rep Position - Any Pointers, tips?

#4 Post by PeterJ » April 22nd, 2014, 6:19 pm

Tough job these days, but getting some experience is important. It seems as if there are lots of people with advanced wine credentials looking for work. From what I've seen you have to have a quality book, a territory that matches it in need, a great attitude, knowledge, and PERSISTANCE.
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Dusty Gillson
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Entry Level Sales Rep Position - Any Pointers, tips?

#5 Post by Dusty Gillson » April 23rd, 2014, 6:34 am

Thanks for the input! She is nothing if not persistent, but she might have to learn not to argue with every customer that rejects her ;)

I feel like the experience aspect might call for her to get a job at a bottle shop for awhile. She worked in retail for years, but never in wine retail.
Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something clever. - Aristophanes

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Tom D
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Entry Level Sales Rep Position - Any Pointers, tips?

#6 Post by Tom D » April 23rd, 2014, 10:46 pm

Dusty Gillson wrote:Thanks for the input! She is nothing if not persistent, but she might have to learn not to argue with every customer that rejects her ;)
Nah, it's not arguing, it's negotiation! [cheers.gif]
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Entry Level Sales Rep Position - Any Pointers, tips?

#7 Post by Thomas Keim » May 3rd, 2014, 6:47 am

Peter Tryba wrote:Rule 1: Show up
Rule 2: Follow up
Rule 3: Repeat
The best sales reps I ever had knew absolutely nothing about wine - but they were great at following through and always doing what I requested of them.
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Entry Level Sales Rep Position - Any Pointers, tips?

#8 Post by Brent C l a y t o n » May 3rd, 2014, 7:24 am

+2 to what Peter and Thomas said, but I think there are some cases, especially with a wine geek kind of portfolio, that knowledge is important.

Have a very thick skin. Or armor. Best of luck to her.
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Entry Level Sales Rep Position - Any Pointers, tips?

#9 Post by PeterJ » May 3rd, 2014, 12:09 pm

I think I've posted this here in another discussion, but it's worth repeating. I think Gerald Weisl, the somewhat cantancerous owner of Weimax (in Hillsboro, CA) might differ on the knowledge thing.

http://weimax.com/how_to_be_a_wine_sales_rep.htm
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Entry Level Sales Rep Position - Any Pointers, tips?

#10 Post by Thomas Keim » May 4th, 2014, 4:31 pm

PeterJ wrote:I think I've posted this here in another discussion, but it's worth repeating. I think Gerald Weisl, the somewhat cantancerous owner of Weimax (in Hillsboro, CA) might differ on the knowledge thing.

http://weimax.com/how_to_be_a_wine_sales_rep.htm
I've always admired the store, and think they have a great wine department - but this article is about as contradictary as they come -

"It's been said for sales reps in general, not necessarily wine reps, that you have to visit an account about eight or ten times before you can expect to make a sale!"


"We received a call from a rep who introduced herself on the phone, taking over from the previous guy. He made but one call here and made a nice sale, too."


The bottom line from his article is pretty much the same as what I said previously. Show up, take notes, give the people what they want, and you will be a very successful salesperson. Wine Geeks make the worst sales people in the world, they love to wax poetic about wines, but don't really know how to sell a bottle.

Common sense is really the other key. If you are selling a predominately Italian catalog, it's pretty easy to just walk over and see what they are thin on, and go from there. The buyer is going to want to taste the wine anyways (unless it gets 146 points from Parker or the Speculator), so again, it's just simple note taking and following through.

AND - A good wine buyer is going to know most of the wine wholesaler's catalogs better than the sales people calling on them anyways, and when I was a buyer, I hated people trying to shove things down my throat (especially geeks waxing poetic).

Come in, listen, mention, leave.

Come back next week, bring the info and wines I asked you for, and you are a winner.
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Entry Level Sales Rep Position - Any Pointers, tips?

#11 Post by Michel Abood » May 4th, 2014, 5:21 pm

Peter Tryba wrote:Rule 1: Show up
Rule 2: Follow up
Rule 3: Repeat
Ad nauseum.
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Entry Level Sales Rep Position - Any Pointers, tips?

#12 Post by Todd Hamina » May 4th, 2014, 6:19 pm

Love your book.
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Terence T-Bone Livingston
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Entry Level Sales Rep Position - Any Pointers, tips?

#13 Post by Terence T-Bone Livingston » May 5th, 2014, 8:35 am

PeterJ wrote: I think Gerald Weisl, the somewhat cantancerous owner of Weimax

Somewhat? Image
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Entry Level Sales Rep Position - Any Pointers, tips?

#14 Post by PeterJ » May 5th, 2014, 9:50 am

Terence T-Bone Livingston wrote:
PeterJ wrote: I think Gerald Weisl, the somewhat cantancerous owner of Weimax
Somewhat? Image


We'll, he didn't actually use any expletives when he essentially told me to 'f' off for asking him if he'd share some thoughts as I was thinking through my business plan for a shop about 300 miles away from his. :o
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Entry Level Sales Rep Position - Any Pointers, tips?

#15 Post by dgkula » May 13th, 2014, 5:41 pm

I am in software sales and I must say I spent 20 minutes reading that site - it is absolutely universal and anyone selling anything would benefit from the advice contained therein. Good stuff.
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Entry Level Sales Rep Position - Any Pointers, tips?

#16 Post by PeterJ » May 13th, 2014, 8:48 pm

dgkula wrote:I am in software sales and I must say I spent 20 minutes reading that site - it is absolutely universal and anyone selling anything would benefit from the advice contained therein. Good stuff.
That's one of the reasons why I wanted his input. Wouldn't give me the time of day. He told me that the last time he gave info to someone who said they were going to open far away, the person opened up within 2 miles of his store. I guess one if his pieces if input would be to do a background check on anyone who asks for help. I get he was burned, but sheesh!
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Entry Level Sales Rep Position - Any Pointers, tips?

#17 Post by Al Osterheld » May 13th, 2014, 9:28 pm

Great shop! May be an advanced course for Dusty's wife, though.

-Al

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Entry Level Sales Rep Position - Any Pointers, tips?

#18 Post by justinmcinerny » April 13th, 2015, 6:59 pm

Didn't want to start a new thread, even if the topic is kind of old. Here is something not to do. New RNDC sales rep drops by about two months ago. I tell him that RDNC is just not the type of portfolio I deal with. Our store is too small, he will never hit his numbers dealing with accounts like mine and so on. However, RNDC has Cameron Hughes. Not exactly boutique but sells well and can be very good. I ask about Cameron Hughes over a month ago, he sends a screen capture to me from his iPhone about what is in RNDC's catalog under the Hughes name. I order some, none show up. Meanwhile, he sends an e-mail not mentioning Hughes but instead wants to try me on some widely available Pinot Noir and Chard (I won't mention the wine because it's not my point, it's probably decent, if highly processed, wine.) This is an example of the salesperson trying to sell what the boss wants to sell, not what the customer wants to buy. In any type of sales, the seller needs to understand the buyer, not the other way around.
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Bruce Leiser_owitz
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Entry Level Sales Rep Position - Any Pointers, tips?

#19 Post by Bruce Leiser_owitz » April 16th, 2015, 10:16 am

justinmcinerny wrote: This is an example of the salesperson trying to sell what the boss wants to sell, not what the customer wants to buy. In any type of sales, the seller needs to understand the buyer, not the other way around.
Of course, I would apply the same observation to some wine retail sales folk who want to convince you to buy the wine their supervisor wants them to sell, rather than the type of wine I came in to buy.

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#20 Post by Nancy Dolce » April 29th, 2015, 3:06 pm

Dusty Gillson wrote:Thanks for the input! She is nothing if not persistent, but she might have to learn not to argue with every customer that rejects her ;)

I feel like the experience aspect might call for her to get a job at a bottle shop for awhile. She worked in retail for years, but never in wine retail.
One year later, any news about your wife, Dusty?
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Dusty Gillson
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Entry Level Sales Rep Position - Any Pointers, tips?

#21 Post by Dusty Gillson » May 7th, 2015, 8:17 am

Some friends of ours just bought an existing wine shop to act as their second location for their budding wine retail empire, and she may be taking a position there, but like so many people not sure what to do or how to get there, she has since gone back to school for a masters degree.
Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something clever. - Aristophanes

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#22 Post by Nancy Dolce » May 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Wish her well, Dusty. She will find her niche.
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Dusty Gillson
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Entry Level Sales Rep Position - Any Pointers, tips?

#23 Post by Dusty Gillson » May 13th, 2015, 7:06 am

I do nothing if not supporting her.
Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something clever. - Aristophanes

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Entry Level Sales Rep Position - Any Pointers, tips?

#24 Post by Drew Goin » May 13th, 2015, 8:03 am

I worked as a wine & booze buyer for a local, independent gourmet shop for ten years. The sales reps were usually of two varieties : used car salesmen or true lovers of the product.

Used car salesmen were actually former car salesmen (or future ones, as I would later find). The distribution companies wanted volume and maximum SKU's/shelf space. No matter what. Dirty tricks, lies, shipments of unsolicited goods (promptly denied and sent back to the warehouse). They bribed you with bottles of wine and dinners (really nice ones, sometimes). They were out to f--k you, any means necessary.

The true lovers were kind, patient, wanted to teach the staff, and knew that there was more than one way to push products. I tried to make sure that every employee had a chance to taste new stuff, good or bad. I wanted to have a selection of various wines for all palates. The true lovers understood that, and tried to pitch along those lines.

I understand that this is a tough job, on premise or off. The reps were at the beck and call of their bosses 24/7. The distribution companies eventually dropped commissions entirely, and enforced quotas mercilessly. I can see why many reps drank too much or used drugs. It's a hard job being on your top game all the time. You have to eat pool with a smile every day. Just my opinion...

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