Advice to a rookie salesman

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arthurk
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Advice to a rookie salesman

#1 Post by arthurk » December 31st, 2009, 2:25 pm

I'm asking the wine pimps of this forum for some advice from senior to a junior wine salesman.

I've recently started this job on the side, it grew out of my passion for wine and when the opportunity to become a rep came along i jumped on it with all the possible enthusiasm!

I love studying, drinking and discovering every day more about wine and i've been assigned some real top producers to work on, and on a greenish market too.

That said, even starting with the best enthusiasm i failed to make any consistent sales in the 3 months i've worked. I have top producers, very fair prices (compared to the competition!) and restaurant managers and sommeliers tell me they're interested in the wines, yet fail to make the order call. Some of my wines really need no introduction, and i'm fairly well prepared at introducing them, and getting better all the time as i study. Furthermore i'm sensing there's some kind of cartel in my market where long-time importers and sommeliers have established very concrete relationships that are proving very difficult to deal with.

Doing this as a side-job doesn't help either but i don't really have an option as i wouldn't be able to live on this for now.

What do you experienced sales people would advice to a rookie? How would you get into a new market and make it big!
Arthur Kinsky

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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#2 Post by Ken V » December 31st, 2009, 5:46 pm

You could become cute and female. [bye.gif]
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#3 Post by Rick Gregory » December 31st, 2009, 6:11 pm

Are you asking for the sale? You would not believe how many sales people pave the way, know their stuff, do a good, not pushy pitch, show the wines... then don't ask for an order. Waiting for them to call you isn't going to work aside from people who are reordering.
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#4 Post by M. Smith » January 1st, 2010, 3:54 am

Welcome to the board arthurk !
Here's hoping you'll receive some helpful guidance from those in the know.

Yiamos !
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#5 Post by Peter Tryba » January 1st, 2010, 5:49 am

Rick Gregory wrote:Are you asking for the sale? You would not believe how many sales people pave the way, know their stuff, do a good, not pushy pitch, show the wines... then don't ask for an order. Waiting for them to call you isn't going to work aside from people who are reordering.
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#6 Post by Todd F r e n c h » January 1st, 2010, 12:46 pm

Arthur, what you are experiencing is likely the cause of the economy, not your ability level or sales skill - at least a good part, anyway.

Now's a great time to start developing relationships, however, so that when the economy picks up again, you are well positioned to have the orders take off as stores start buying. Just ingratiate yourself to as many as you can, show your promptness, fairness, and lack of pressure, and hopefully it will be rewarded when the buying flows back in.
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#7 Post by Peter Tryba » January 1st, 2010, 1:07 pm

[youtube][/youtube]

[thankyou.gif]
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#8 Post by Roberto Rogness » January 1st, 2010, 1:39 pm

When calling on retailers...BRING FOOD!
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#9 Post by Randy Bowman » January 1st, 2010, 5:20 pm

Arthur,

As Todd pointed out its the current economy.

Unfortunately, you couldn't have picked a worse time to start as a rep. We purchased 20% less wine this year because demand was down. We also went with wines people are looking for. As a retailer, we've been offered wines that were previously restaurant or winery only. Even got a call or two from wineries who outright said they needed cash flow. Overall, our internet and walk-in wine sales were down 23 percent. Fortunately, our cigar sales were up nearly 50 percent.

There have been at least 10 restaurants in Napa either close, sell or cut hours and employees in 2009. Some are being very creative, lowering wine prices, lowering or eliminating corkage fees, etc., just to get the cash flow to stay in business.

There are a number of wineries and vineyards that have changed hands too. The price of grapes this year is the lowest its been for some time. There were ads in the newspaper offering entire grape crops cheap. Caymus SS in Costco for $96.00??? Wines are being dumped by both wineries and distributors to generate some cash flow.

So I don't think its you or your approach, it's the way it is right now. Hand sell wines are slow moving, particularly in a restaurant at typical restaurant pricing of three to four times wholesale cost.
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#10 Post by Randy Bowman » January 1st, 2010, 6:01 pm

See, there you go Serge. You give him a list of how to be successful. I try to build the kid's confidence back up so he knows he's not a failure and can run with your list. Then you go right back and point out that if he had been doing it right in the first place he'd be rich by now. [shock.gif] [pillow-fight.gif]
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#11 Post by arthurk » January 2nd, 2010, 2:18 am

Thanks all for your kind advice it's much appreciated.

I'm not gonna blame it on the economy, because there's always a small pocket of people that still spend a lot of money, even during crisis. I could have done better but when i get a sommelier tell me "i'll call you back with a date for when we can organize a tasting" i naively expect a call, after all i'm giving him the opportunity to buy top wines. But i could be a bit more proactive like saying "do you want me to call next week to remind you to choose a date for the tasting" or something on that line.

Also if i was telling you the brands i'm selling, you'd bow in front of their names so it's really not even a matter of introducing the wine and i'm giving it to them at the price our competitors sell inferior wines of the same kind.

I've been playing around with the idea of starting a 1 page printed magazine on the line of Wine Advocate (sans the authority!) that would be distributed freely at wine bars and that tried to educate people on the matter of wines, styles and grape varieties so that i could write an overview of, say, Chianti and sneak in a positive comment about the one i sell.

Also i've been thinking in terms of writing a wine guide, of course very different from the ones available around and try to have it attached to some wine and food magazines, to try create demand around my wines.

What do you guys think about these ideas?
Arthur Kinsky

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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#12 Post by Peter Tryba » January 2nd, 2010, 6:48 am

Serge wins
I'd buy from him even if it were Beringer White Merlot [berserker.gif]
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#13 Post by Daniel McNiff » January 2nd, 2010, 7:48 am

Two traps I see I'd like to point out:
1) There is a sea of great wine out there. They are going to buy from someone, not something in particular.
2) Be there. Instead of asking if you can call next week tell them you will be there next week (and do so.)

Even if you present them with a great opportunity (which isn't usually the case with top producers like you've mentioned representing) they are much more likely to pass or "think about it" if they don't have a strong relationship with you. If one of their regular sales reps pops in that week with a similar proposal they are more likely to take it.

Is your portfolio all high end wines? I would worry about opening a relationship where you are delivering wines before you focus on extra materials like pamphlets, emails, or websites.

Please note this is advice from a rookie salesman to a rookie salesman, I am speaking more from a retail background.

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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#14 Post by Rick Gregory » January 2nd, 2010, 9:47 am

arthurk wrote:Thanks all for your kind advice it's much appreciated.

I'm not gonna blame it on the economy, because there's always a small pocket of people that still spend a lot of money, even during crisis. I could have done better but when i get a sommelier tell me "i'll call you back with a date for when we can organize a tasting" i naively expect a call, after all i'm giving him the opportunity to buy top wines. But i could be a bit more proactive like saying "do you want me to call next week to remind you to choose a date for the tasting" or something on that line.

Also if i was telling you the brands i'm selling, you'd bow in front of their names so it's really not even a matter of introducing the wine and i'm giving it to them at the price our competitors sell inferior wines of the same kind.

I've been playing around with the idea of starting a 1 page printed magazine on the line of Wine Advocate (sans the authority!) that would be distributed freely at wine bars and that tried to educate people on the matter of wines, styles and grape varieties so that i could write an overview of, say, Chianti and sneak in a positive comment about the one i sell.

Also i've been thinking in terms of writing a wine guide, of course very different from the ones available around and try to have it attached to some wine and food magazines, to try create demand around my wines.

What do you guys think about these ideas?
I think your attitude is the problem. "Also if i was telling you the brands i'm selling, you'd bow in front of their names so it's really not even a matter of introducing the wine and i'm giving it to them at the price our competitors sell inferior wines of the same kind."

Um - get over yourself and your portfolio. If you came into a shop with that attitude, I'm surprised they let you back in much less ordered. YOU might be impressed with the names, but I guarantee that any experienced wine person isn't - they've seen it all, as have the customers who buy high end wines. None of us are impressed by names anymore, esp when those name wines can be hard to sell and for customers, those names are nationally available.

You act like you're doing them and us a favor by making the wines available - you're not. You're selling something that people might want. They'll buy if they like you and feel they can sell the wines you have. If they don't (either one) you're toast.
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#15 Post by Roberto Rogness » January 2nd, 2010, 10:09 am

"Also if i was telling you the brands i'm selling, you'd bow in front of their names so it's really not even a matter of introducing the wine and i'm giving it to them at the price our competitors sell inferior wines of the same kind."

Vinifera?

Paterno?

Chadderdon?

That statement could have come from a rep from any of those...
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#16 Post by Bruce Leiser_owitz » January 2nd, 2010, 11:23 am

Without knowing the particulars of your situation--your company, your portfolio, your customers--it's difficult to know how much of your lack of sales is due to the economy, how much is due to your portfolio, how much is due to whether your wines are a good match to your customers, etc. You could carry an incredible portfolio of well-priced wines, and it could still be the wrong fit with the potential customers you've contacted.

Restaurants wine lists, for example, can be very difficult to break into after they've been established. The restaurant's finances may be such that they can only support one or two pages of wines, and once they've filled those spots, they are less likely to add new wines to the list. And yes, some sommeliers/beverage dept. managers DO have existing relationships with certain reps and certain distributors.

In addition to "making the ask," you might also consider gently and diplomatically asking for feedback if someone says they love the wines you pour yet still don't give you an order. If you have good people skills, and if you listen well, you should be able to find out WHY you're not getting orders you think you should be getting.

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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#17 Post by Timothy Linders » January 2nd, 2010, 4:13 pm

"Is their a wine on your list that you may be looking at eliminating and if so I may be inclined to help you with that If mine wine is the replacement"

Ask how many btls need to be taken care of.

Find a way to take care of them or replace them.

NC goods as in a trade.

Buy one btl give it back and have the rest poured off as a feature or glass pour.

If it is a wine I like, I buy (at establishments cost) it and take it with me.

Most importantly, when is the last time you got laid without asking? You have always got to ask for the sale!! It's called clossing.
TL

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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#18 Post by arthurk » January 4th, 2010, 4:34 am

Timothy Linders wrote: Most importantly, when is the last time you got laid without asking? You have always got to ask for the sale!! It's called clossing.
So true! ;-)

Anyway thanks everybody for the advice!
Arthur Kinsky

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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#19 Post by Brad Kane » January 4th, 2010, 7:52 am

Arthur-

Having a good portfolio to work with is important because it can mold your relationship with an account, but the relationship is the most important thing in sales. If you just started working the last quarter, it doesn't surprise me that sales weren't consistent for you because you hadn't established any real relationships with buyers yet and during the holiday season, buyers tend to work with the people they know, not with Johnny come latelies. Now is the time to forge new relationships with buyers. Be polite, be persistent, don't make promises you can't keep, follow-through, don't be afraid to ask for the sale and develop thick skin.

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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#20 Post by Bob Wood » January 4th, 2010, 10:24 am

Arthur, I've never sold wine but I've sold other things and trained about 400 salespeople in one way or another. I'll offer a few words of advice, many of which have already been addressed by others.

1. People buy from people they like and trust. Develop your relationships and you'll be better off in the long run. To the extent you either allow or cause your book to be reduced to a commodity you'll always fall prey to price-shopping. Within certain limits, a case of onions is a case of onions and the lowest price will prevail. Put another way, a high-volume retailer like a supermarket will create an end-cap display where they can palate-stack whichever wine will move fastest and give them the greatest margin, regardless of what's in the bottle. That's where whoever is selling Yellowtail is in competition with whoever is selling Columbia Crest, and that is NOT the environment you're trying to create.
2. Your customers are always looking for the WIIFM - "What's in it for me?" Especially in this environment, what Rick Gregory said (though I'll attempt to be more delicate) holds true. The mere fact that you have highly-rated or desirable wines in your book means very little in and of itself. 99% of consumers won't care if you're offering Screagle at a price that will end up as a $250 bottle of wine on the list. They've never heard of it, so it will sit.
3. Your customers are interested in making money, so help them do that by offering them wines that will sell, not gather dust. Once you've done that, help your customer sell the wines by thinking of creative ways to sell them - tastings, by the glass programs, food matching recommendations, etc. If I owned a restaurant, I'd be giving away free 1-ounce pours of especially attractive wines to encourage sales. Maybe you could suggest that and perhaps you can help your customer train his staff. "Would you like to see the wine list," and "Would you like to order wine this evening," don't cut it. Something along the lines of, "The Vieux Telegraph is mind-blowing with that lamb you've ordered. Let me bring you a taste," works more often than not.
4. Selling is much like a seduction. It's something you and the customer do together for your mutual benefit, not something you do TO your customer. The objective is for everyone to wake up tomorrow satisfied, with no regrets and certainly not wanting to chew off the offending arm. The worst thing you can do is be clever, tricky and manipulative.
5. Ask for the order. Always. Don't allow your customer to fall back on "Don't call us, we'll call you." Respond with something along the line of, "Let's get together on XXXX at XX time to finalize this, and pull out your appointment book. Would you end a first date with Charlize Theron without asking for another?
6. Ask questions. Lots of them. LISTEN to the answers. Find out how you can fill your customer's needs and do it!

Good luck. Feel free to PM me if you have questions.
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#21 Post by Richard Leland » January 4th, 2010, 10:40 am

Brad Kane wrote: Having a good portfolio to work with is important because it can mold your relationship with an account, but the relationship is the most important thing in sales. If you just started working the last quarter, it doesn't surprise me that sales weren't consistent for you because you hadn't established any real relationships with buyers yet and during the holiday season, buyers tend to work with the people they know, not with Johnny come latelies. Now is the time to forge new relationships with buyers. Be polite, be persistent, don't make promises you can't keep, follow-through, don't be afraid to ask for the sale and develop thick skin. Brad
Arthur,

I think Brad has it exactly right. Over the years I've had a great many sales reps come into the store to introduce themselves, leave a catalog but then never return. I think a lot of people get into the business because they think it'll be a fun way to make a living, find out that it's damn hard and then move on to something else. I don't really pay much attention to a new rep until they've been in the store at least four or five times - it's only then that I start to believe they're serious.

Richard
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#22 Post by Bruce Leiser_owitz » January 4th, 2010, 12:54 pm

Bob Wood wrote: Put another way, a high-volume retailer like a supermarket will create an end-cap display where they can palate-stack whichever wine will move fastest and give them the greatest margin, regardless of what's in the bottle.
Good luck. Feel free to PM me if you have questions.
Yeah, I have a question. Over here, over here. Call on me, please....

What is this "palate-stack" thing of which you speak? neener

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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#23 Post by Rick Gregory » January 4th, 2010, 1:20 pm

A palate stack is made up of only wines with HIGH scores....
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#24 Post by Bob Wood » January 4th, 2010, 2:00 pm

Bruce Leiserowitz wrote:
Bob Wood wrote: Put another way, a high-volume retailer like a supermarket will create an end-cap display where they can palate-stack whichever wine will move fastest and give them the greatest margin, regardless of what's in the bottle.
Good luck. Feel free to PM me if you have questions.
Yeah, I have a question. Over here, over here. Call on me, please....

What is this "palate-stack" thing of which you speak? neener

Bruce
Oy. I'm sooooo embarrassed. Pallet. Arggggh.
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#25 Post by Richard Leland » January 4th, 2010, 3:36 pm

Bruce Leiserowitz wrote: What is this "palate-stack" thing of which you speak?
It's part of the Grand Slam Breakfast at Denny's and I'm pretty sure it involves pancakes.
Richard

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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#26 Post by C Zeitler » January 5th, 2010, 12:08 am

I have sold investment products for the past 20 years to pension funds etc. and the
only advice I can give is:

#1 - Listen to Serge, he seems to know about selling
#2 - Be more proactive (Ask for next appointment, ask for the sale, ask how his wife is, ask how many kids he has..ask)
#3 - Get out and meet people and follow Carnegies rules - and you WILL SELL

You are being paid for being rejected. You are also being paid because you are able to pick yourself up
and try again. And again (etc.). Don´t take no as an answer, I learned over the years that although not
everybody likes pushy salesman/women, they tend to sell more than the rest.

Cheers
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#27 Post by John Davis » January 5th, 2010, 8:16 am

Ton of good advice here but to add or re-state.

Ask for the appointment and be on time. Be cordial, ask about business, spouse, kids, pets, whatever. Act like you are interested in the person and their business.

In these parts reps never bring food but it is a very nice touch. Ask for the sale but don't appear desperate. Don't be too disappointed by rejection because its going to happen. Read everything you can about wine. The more you appear to know the better your comments about a wine will be received. Some of my favorite reps are the ones who really love wine. Some might as well be selling Tide or pork n' beans.

JD
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#28 Post by jeffz » January 5th, 2010, 9:28 am

Arthur, one important thing you didn't mention: where are you? Demographic is important. Areas and people respond differently.

My top three points:

1) Know your potential client. This is huge. If my store doesn't carry Australian wines, don't bring me any. And if my focus is smaller production old world wines don't bring me Trader Joe/mass produced California wines.

2) Know your product. But don't pontificate for hours. Some clients will know their stuff some will not but don't come in on auto pilot with your rap.

3) Use feel to accomplish #1 and #2. Both of the above points are paramount but you need to understand where you are going and what you are doing. This feel thing leads to doing stuff like having a printed list of what you go out with each day, following up on time with phone calls or e-mails, pursuing wines your customer will like, etc.
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#29 Post by Roberto Rogness » January 5th, 2010, 9:38 am

"In these parts reps never bring food but it is a very nice touch."

Two examples of how this can be a big win / win:

We have a rep who has a mix of restaurants and retail accounts. He often finishes a restaurant call by asking "What's really good today?", getting some of that to go (and paying for it) and taking it to a retail account. NOTHING opens the door better than "You won't believe these goat tacos I got at Monte Alban..." or "That new dim Sum place is off the hook, check out these dumplings!".

When Danny Phillips was starting Grateful Palate, he lived across the street from our store. Once a month he would get chefs like Sang Yoon and Don Dickman to cook up a storm at his house, invite all the buyers, open a bottle of everything and just let things sell themselves. HE learned that from a couple of French guys who used to work for Henry Wine Group who did the same on the rooftop beach front patio of one of them. Not only did it work but you could CONSTANTLY here one sommelier telling another one "Oh, we BURN this shit up at our joint, you need to put it on your list..."
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#30 Post by Nick Ryan » January 5th, 2010, 1:33 pm

A local wine shop runs tastings all day, every day, and the owner goes ballistic if anyone dares bring in food, so YMMV on this technique. :)
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#31 Post by Roberto Rogness » January 5th, 2010, 1:41 pm

"A local wine shop runs tastings all day, every day, and the owner goes ballistic if anyone dares bring in food, so YMMV on this technique."

That guy has a seriously skewed POV on wine. Is he afraid a bunch of low acid glop monsters won't show well with food? That would be a valuable data point for both his buyers and his customers...
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#32 Post by Nick Ryan » January 5th, 2010, 9:28 pm

Roberto Rogness wrote:"A local wine shop runs tastings all day, every day, and the owner goes ballistic if anyone dares bring in food, so YMMV on this technique."

That guy has a seriously skewed POV on wine. Is he afraid a bunch of low acid glop monsters won't show well with food? That would be a valuable data point for both his buyers and his customers...
Actually he specializes in high-acid monsters, mostly. But anyways, how can people properly taste wine if some guy brings in an onion bagel sandwich stinking to high heaven, or Chinese food, or McD? I don't want to be smelling somebody's lunch if I pay $40 for a tasting, I want to smell the wine.
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#33 Post by arthurk » January 6th, 2010, 7:39 am

Terrific advice people, thanks a lot!

I believe that my biggest mistake until now was to not follow up, expecting like in my other world that if someone tells you "i'll call you" he actually will.

I'm starting to network with some foodies in my area now and they already asked me to host a wine-tasting so we'll see what comes out of that.

The other rules i have them well tatooed in my soul so i don't think it's my soft skills that damage me, and with a handful of aces i should be able to do better with a little bit more effort.

I've been probably too nice to my customers until now, it's about time to get some orders in ;-)

Thanks again!
Arthur Kinsky

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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#34 Post by Kevin Shaffer » January 14th, 2010, 5:06 pm

Get your customers drunk. Always works for me.
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#35 Post by NickWittman » January 14th, 2010, 6:13 pm

Good advise above. Beyond relationships, have a good sense of your company core competencies, and be able to have a dialog how it may benefit your potential customers!

Are you truly:

The Low Price leader
Offer High Quality Products
High Responsiveness
Large Inventory Availability
Trustworthy / Customer Service
Other

What makes you different? Where do you excel? What would make a new customer want to give you a shot over, or in addition to vendors they already have a relationship?

And as others have said, develop a thick skin. You will get a lot of no's for various reasons, but in the end, remember it takes both a good company, and a good customer to result in a good long term relationship!
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#36 Post by Thomas Keim » May 6th, 2010, 3:14 pm

I've been on both sides of the fence over the years - and there are some basic things -

1) Take notes. Write down everything the buyers says positive and negative - the more you know about them and their palates the better - A good buyer will usually throw out a few names off of your list that he likes or is interested in - bring those wines for him to taste - and if you don't write them down, you won't remember by the time you get home that night -

Make sure you write down the name of each buyer (nothing more embarrassng that walking into a store that you have been in before and still don't remember who you are supposed to see), and make sure you make appointments a week in advance - just dropping in when you are trying to open an account can be tough - so make an appointment so you can have his/her full attention -

2) Be consistent - don't just call for an order - make sure you show your face at least every other week - let the buyer know you mean business - and are reliable -

3) Most buyers rarely call in orders - they wait to see you (which reminds them what you sell) and then order accordingly - Only the most dedicated or anal will actually call you with an order -

3) Hard sell is not the answer. Show them a good product, give them the best selling points ya got - and let them make the decision - being pushy really does turn alot of people off - be consistent - bring them good products - provide all the info you need - and the product will sell itself -

4) Never, ever, ever describe a wine to a customer while they are tasting it. Give them all the important info up front (aged in barrels or stainless steel, residual sugar if important, fruit sources and quality highlights from the winery) BUT - let them taste the wine and decide - trying to put words in buyers mouths is a really pretentious thing to do - Every time a wholesaler would bring a wine in for me to taste - they would start with that "...this wine has a lovely cherry bouquet with rich fruit framed by scrumptious toasty oak notes - it's so incredible!" - By the time the salesman had the third word out of his mouth - I wanted to shove my glass down his throat and scream -

5) Retailers are ten times easier to call on then restaurants. For one reason - most retail buyers are much more knowledgable than restaurant buyers - most restaurant buyers are either the son/daughter of the owner, or was a server/assistant manager last week - the major exceptions are in California or New York -

Retailers are always looking to fill holes - find out what those holes are and show them the proper product - they could be looking to source some new Zins, or Rieslings, or looking to expand their Rhone section - find out their needs (rather than yours) and bring them something they have already admitted that they are looking for - you rarely get placements when you just taste what you want with your customers - bring them what they want to taste!

When in chance you do run into a restaurant buyer that knows his stuff - you have struck gold - those guys/gals like to rotate wines by the glass, love showing their customers different things, and you can usually squeeze something into their "by the glass program" eventually if you are consistent -

AND GET TO KNOW WHAT IS SELLING -

Australia and high end French and Italian wines are NOT selling - so bringing in the new Brunello from a great producer you represent might not fly if your customers still have the last three vintages on their shelves -

Last but not least -

Be prepared to hear the word no 90% of the time - and don't let it get you down. 80% of the buyers you will be calling on are completely clueless - just go with the flow - be nice to everyone - and good things will eventually happen -

BUYER EXAMPLE - I walked into the office of a major Liquor Warehouse chain with over 40 stores to see their beer buyer - I just received some incredible German beers in and wanted to do a presentation to the beer buyer - so I walked into his office - set the bottles on his desk and said - "I have some incredible beers from Bavaria to show you!" - his reply? "You mean Bavaria Ohio?"

And yes, he was not kidding.
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#37 Post by Thomas Keim » May 6th, 2010, 3:29 pm

And - to show you how much I know -

I made six sales calls today - didn't sell a bottle of wine or beer.

Came home and there were three big orders waiting for me on my e-mail -
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#38 Post by Bob Hunnicutt » May 6th, 2010, 8:09 pm

Kevin Shaffer wrote:Get your customers drunk. Always works for me.
That works best if you're cute and female.
lol

Great info to read here. I think the key points are "relationships" and "ask for the sale."

Try looking at it from your customers point-of-view. They've probably got wine coming out their ears. They've probably got hungry wine sales people coming out their ears. How can you be different (better) to make them want to buy from the new guy? I don't have an answer for that but maybe you can come up with it.

When I bought from vendors it was always much easier for me to buy from someone I liked and trusted to not BS me.
(Not Hunnicutt Winery BTW)

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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#39 Post by Roberto Rogness » May 7th, 2010, 9:56 am

"4) Never, ever, ever describe a wine to a customer while they are tasting it. Give them all the important info up front (aged in barrels or stainless steel, residual sugar if important, fruit sources and quality highlights from the winery) BUT - let them taste the wine and decide - trying to put words in buyers mouths is a really pretentious thing to do - Every time a wholesaler would bring a wine in for me to taste - they would start with that "...this wine has a lovely cherry bouquet with rich fruit framed by scrumptious toasty oak notes - it's so incredible!" - By the time the salesman had the third word out of his mouth - I wanted to shove my glass down his throat and scream - "


+1000!!!
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#40 Post by Ray Walker » May 13th, 2010, 8:11 pm

Roberto Rogness wrote:"4) Never, ever, ever describe a wine to a customer while they are tasting it. Give them all the important info up front (aged in barrels or stainless steel, residual sugar if important, fruit sources and quality highlights from the winery) BUT - let them taste the wine and decide - trying to put words in buyers mouths is a really pretentious thing to do - Every time a wholesaler would bring a wine in for me to taste - they would start with that "...this wine has a lovely cherry bouquet with rich fruit framed by scrumptious toasty oak notes - it's so incredible!" - By the time the salesman had the third word out of his mouth - I wanted to shove my glass down his throat and scream - "


+1000!!!
I wish wineries would follow this as well.

To the OP,
the first rule of sales is:

Know your intended audience

After this:

Have a sound product that fits their needs

Follow-up (much of life and indeed sales fits in here)

With sales you have to be able to know all of the answers and be humble enough to appreciate if your audience never asks you the question.

Best of luck!
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#41 Post by justinmcinerny » May 17th, 2010, 6:22 pm

It's hard to add anything new to this. I have enjoyed reading the thread and I have benefited from it. Not sure if I am saying anything new or earth shattering but . . .

Best advice I ever got - "shut up and pour". This was from a friend of a business acquaintance who has a lot of retail ownership experience.

One of my best customers is an old school French chef who told me how much he hated b.s. When I first met him, I was fairly new. Fortunately he had a good handle on the portfolio because he bought from us before and he was ready to buy again. I told him how green I was. I kept my ears open and my mouth shut. He said a rep from another company was talking about some great $100.00 bottles of wine (wholesale). Chef told the rep that the Chef tasted more $100.00 bottles of wine in a day then the rep will in his whole career. He also told the rep that the rep probably hadn't tasted the wines because the company is not opening $100.00 bottles of wine for their reps. Chef then asked me about some wines in my portfolio. Some wines I knew, some I didn't. He really appreciated it when I said - "I don't know". My point is, like many others have said - don't feed b.s. to people.

Lastly, I think it is important to love sales as much as, or more than, you love wine. There are plenty of wine lovers out there who do not want to be in sales. If you don't love sales then stick to being a consumer.
Justin
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#42 Post by Roberto Rogness » May 17th, 2010, 6:37 pm

Don't talk yourself OUT of a sale!

Once someone says, "Yes, I'll take three cases", QUIT TALKING ABOUT THE WINE as you might say something that will nix the deal (like "great, X store down the block is BURNING this stuff up" or "the wines come wrapped in paper with neckers from the Wine Enthusiast").

Next word out of your mouth should be "Thanks, that really helps my month" and "You'll get it ____day". Then GO...
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#43 Post by Matt Mauldin » May 27th, 2010, 7:09 pm

Always show up and do great follow up. Those two things alone will put you way ahead of the pack.
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#44 Post by Randy Bowman » May 27th, 2010, 8:28 pm

Depending on who your distributors are, there is at least one who believes you should spend twenty hours on line, looking up unknown foreign wines from wineries with no websites, so you know all about the wine before he sells it to you. Don't be the weak link.
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#45 Post by Thomas Keim » June 2nd, 2010, 3:04 pm

Ray Walker wrote:With sales you have to be able to know all of the answers and be humble enough to appreciate if your audience never asks you the question.


That's actually the hardest thing for me to do - I keep quiet while the buyers are tasting - outside of basic info - but if they taste through the lineup - and don't say a word - I have to at least find out what they thought about the wines - especially if you are fairly new with the buyer -

It helps you figure out the buyer's palate the best - do they like earthy, old world wines or are they a sugar whore (which I've been running into way too much lately) -
ITB - The Yoerg Brewing Company

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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#46 Post by David T » June 2nd, 2010, 3:15 pm

Thomas,

nice to hear you got some orders.

I would encourage you to rethink the way you are approaching this. The skill set that makes someone a wine enthusiast is often not the skill set that makes for a good sales person, which doesn't mean that the two are mutually exclusive. I would encourage you to study the art of selling with the same diligence you've studied wine. Buy some highly rated sales books and dive into them. Figure out how you can help your customers achieve their goals and how you fit into the picture, how they can start to see you as a trusted asset and not someone that gets in their way.

good luck!
d taaffe

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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#47 Post by Thomas Keim » June 2nd, 2010, 4:39 pm

David T wrote:Thomas,

nice to hear you got some orders.

I would encourage you to rethink the way you are approaching this. The skill set that makes someone a wine enthusiast is often not the skill set that makes for a good sales person, which doesn't mean that the two are mutually exclusive. I would encourage you to study the art of selling with the same diligence you've studied wine. Buy some highly rated sales books and dive into them. Figure out how you can help your customers achieve their goals and how you fit into the picture, how they can start to see you as a trusted asset and not someone that gets in their way. good luck!



David -

I've been doing this for over 30 years - and my biggest customers I have known many of for over 25 years - I am the epitome of the anti-sale - but the king of filling holes -

I usually put a lot of credence into my products - and education is the key. And I have always felt that I needed to create my own markets to be successful.

When I first brought Oregon wines into the Midwest (early 1980s) people laughed at me. When I told them that Washington State was the next hot Cabernet area right after that - they laughed at me again.

When I introduced microbeers into the Midwestern market in 1990, they told me I would never be able to sell a case of beer for a whopping $36 a case to anyone. But I did, and was doing over 2 million in yearly sales three years later.

Now I am going around telling them that Michigan is the next big thing in white wines - and they are laughing at me again.

But you know what?

They are all buying from me. They did then and they are doing it now. Because they trust me. Saw eight accounts today, six of them put in the entire lineup of Michigan wines. The other two will be vilified so bad on Twitter and other various wine blog sites that they will probably lose their jobs by the end of the week.

Just kidding.

Our small company has four salesmen - and I represent 75% of the monthly sales. We specialize in wines from Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Switzerland and of all things, Michigan. We have no competition for our catalog for one reason, we created our own market.

Selling has never been a problem for me - it's the simple tolerance of the ignorant and misinformed, I just don't have the patience for the type of buyer that has learned everything in 6 months and now knows it all - So I pass those accounts on to the young guys - 20 years ago I could deal with them - just can't anymore -
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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#48 Post by David T » June 3rd, 2010, 3:45 pm

Thomas -

My mistake - i wasn't reading carefully, I should have addressed that to the person who started the thread, Arthur K.

My apologies - you definitely aren't new to sales!
d taaffe

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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#49 Post by GregT » June 3rd, 2010, 6:38 pm

Arthur - lots of good advice but really the most important thing is to step outside of yourself for a minute. You said that you've got great wines, etc., you have a passion for wine, blah blah blah.

Guess what. That doesn't matter.

Many people have great wines and many people have a passion for it.

What matters is that you show the people something that they can use. When you stop in, take a look around the store. If you see they've got a million bottles from Tuscany, what are the chances of your getting in a new Tuscan wine? And if that's what they love, your chances of getting in a new Portugese wine are even worse.

So what do you do? You may love your wines to drink, the buyers may also, but that doesn't mean the wines will sell.

So look for some hook. Several people said to develop a relationship. Fine. But the buyer also has a relationship with the guy who drives the bus to work, or the security guard at the parking garage, or whatever. Relationships themselves aren't the point. Make your relationship relevant to sales.

Maybe you've got a wine by one of the winemakers the store is carrying, or from a little area nearby their favorite, or whatever.

Don't go out with the wines you love. I did that at first and didn't make any sales. Go out with wines that you think deliver solid value and that won't stress the buyer if he makes a commitment to add it to the store. Maybe it's not your favorite. But if they can sell 20 cases of it, you'll get a re-order and you're making money. If you take your personal favorite and sell a case, what good is that? Eventually that may happen, but it takes time.

There are plenty of fifty dollar wines discounted all over today - just before you showed up, some other rep came in to tell the buyer about a closeout, clearance, or whatever. So show the guy or gal a few lower end values that rock, get their trust, and you've now got a foot in the door. In a couple years, they may trust you to look at some other stuff.

It also means don't take out a big red in June when it's 96 degrees. People are looking at lighter wines at that point. Of course, they've probably already selected their rosados and whites, but it doesn't hurt to let them taste a few. So understand the cycle. They start looking at big reds in August and early Sept. The customers don't but the buyers want them in the store the first day the temp drops like it always does in the fall. Show your sparklers then too. And show your whites/rosados in Feb.

And especially if you're new, don't try to impress people with your knowledge. There are lots of blowhards in the business. In fact, I think more than 50 pct are probably blowhards, but so what? More importantly, the buyer may be one who isn't. He may be a guy who's been drinking and tasting a few thousand wines a year for 20 years. If you show up bright eyed and bushy tailed and fresh out of a wine course trying to talk about what you just learned, he'll just roll his eyes.

Yeah, people buy from reps they like. But just going around with a big smile will make them think you're simple.
So talk to them about their wines, the kinds of things they like, show some interest in them and their needs. Indicate that at least you know your role is to help them move product. Selling wine, or anything really, isn't about romance, or passion for wine, or anything like that. It's about moving a product from the warehouse to the store to the customer's sweaty little hands. Let the buyers know you understand that and you're working to help them do it.

That's how you get them to like you.

The romance and "artistry" and all that is for the customer.

And you also need to be a noodge. It's why sales are hard for some people.


Good luck!
G . T a t a r

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Re: Advice to a rookie salesman

#50 Post by BLittle » February 16th, 2011, 9:10 am

This is one of my favorite threads on the BB!

Bumping because I sent it to a friend in San Diego looking for a job in the industry and I wanted her to see the great advice given.

Any additional thoughts?
Brett Cyril Little (AKA BC)

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