Rep. Rant

I have a rep that carries many really good & great wines. He typically comes at the end of the day and usually mid to end of the week but he will have wines that he’s opened 2 or 3 days earlier. Some can use the extra air time and are fine but often they are toast by the time we taste them and at the end of the day many of the whites are warm [bleh.gif] . Of course the wines don’t show well, in turn I end up not ordering anything, you would think after being in the business for many years he would learn how to keep them cool. I know most of his problem is he starts his route at
9 a.m. then it gets hot, he travels all over No. Ca. and lands here around 6 p.m. Needless to say he just left with some ok Pinots but pricey and a red that was pruney from being too warm.
I’m done bitching…


We started appointment only with our reps back in 2003. If a rep shows up without an appt, they are shown the door.

We do appts as well but this one is a late appt guy because his territory is so big and we generally schedule our tastings in the afternoon but it’s still no excuse for warm wine, no one else seems to have problems that we deal with.

Dan, I use a little homemade Freakonomics: we have a policy that when the number of reps for that day exceeds the number of customers for that day that rep buys lunch for the whole crew or is persona non grata…

I’m not fond of the “out of the wood works” companies too. They tend to have some iffy wine on paper, and god only knows they get worse once you taste them.

We have over 50 vendors (and that may be light) that come by, and I have to tell you, they don’t like to hear NO. I find it very hard to do normal business with someone hocking crap in one ear. Most sales reps are order takers. I can count on 1 hand how many people call on me that I know have a clue about wine. I end up buying a boat load of wine from those guys, simply b/c they know what I will like.

Having said all of this that, “oh, you have to buy this to get that” sales pitch is getting tired, and scarce. I got a call today offering me close to 100 six packs of 98 point rated wine with no strings attached. I said I had to think about it, and the reply was “ok, just get back to me by early next week”. Makes me think he isn’t concerned about the wine going anywhere. Boy how the times have changed.


What’s the wine?

We have cut our suppliers down to about 20. I make about 6 appts per week. And only if they have something interesting to taste. Never more than 3 per day.

These people have nothing to do all day. Not my problem.

Come to the Napa Valley, everyday there is another new winery and they all come galavanting through the door with their wines that start at $60.
No appointment, go away !

I assure you I’ve heard of SW&S. In fact, they distribute the wines I make in many states.

They will eventually realize (right?) that they can’t lose sales trying to tie sales of one product to another. It worked well 5 years ago, but these days I have to imagine retailers/buyers tell the reps who try that to get f’-ed more often than not. I have heard grumblings of us losing more than a couple placements this way.

I doubt the evil empire will realize it or change their ways.
We order very little from them any longer because of their bundle programs & B.S. allocations and blowout sales on product that we still have in inventory. I know other companies do the same thing but none are as guilty as SWS

Grange 2004

At $400 per btl, that one is a joke.

Non-retailer alert!

I’ve read this thread, and as a longtime salesman/sales trainer (not ITB; I sell medical devices) I can see a consistent theme of reps who are falling victim to the demands of their manager/company. In short, they have no balls.

I’ve been in sales my entire life and have never used the "if you don’t buy “x”, I can’t sell you “y” close. In my opinion, that is for hack salespeople, no matter the industry. Customers don’t want to hear about your troubles as a sales rep. If I ever caught one of my people begging for business because it would help them get to quota, a bonus, trip, whatever, or threatening business if someone didn’t purchase a product they didn’t want, they would be out on there ass . . . period! No questions asked. Middle managers’ success is based on their people, the reps you see. If the rep gets that, he/she pushes back and make she manager realize how the real world works.

This just shows the lack of training for wine/beverage salespeople. Apparently the senior managers could care less what the stakeholders (you ITB) actually want/need, and force down their own agenda to their reps. Sad indeed. There is a great need to teach “salespeople” how to sell. The books/programs out there are crap; catering and coddling “reps” so they don’t quit.

Man, if I was ITB and was one of these guys/girls I’d love to call on Posner. He’d need to find a new warehouse for all the “deals” I would close him on. neener

No disrespect Kevin, but I’m not sure you can make such generalizations across industry. Especially without knowing things like the success rate of tying products or where the policy of tying them comes from. I’m not going to get into details but you don’t necessarily have the mechanics, or the net result as far as sales correct.


No disrespect taken. Just my opinion as a sales guy who loves the art of what I do (and suspect you might do as well?). Point taken, although I am a bit confused as to what you are trying to convey with your last line.

I can certainly see your angle on the sample thing in the wine industry. It is important to taste retailers so they can convey thoughts to their customers. I am sure the policies in place for buying “x” to get “y” have a reason behind them, I just don’t know if it is the best to hold customers hostage. Maybe this has been going on in the wine industry for so long it is accepted, and I am naive to that? Sort of like the demon I fight in medical sales that every Dr. expects me to buy his office lunch if I want to speak to him?

I feel like too often salespeople and sales organizations fail when they forget the #1 skill of selling, listening to customers. By forcing product that you think the customer will want, you lose credibility. By asking questions and listening to the answers, a successful salesperson can then determine needs and thus offer product(s) accordingly. Basic sales stuff I am sure you are well versed in, but so easily forgotten by many, me included, don’t you think?

If you are to agree with that sales principle, conversely, offering something a customer doesn’t want as a way to get what they do want seems to me a great way to increase tension in the relationship and break down the ability to succeed for both the customer and salesperson/sales organization. Would you agree?

Yeah, I noticed that one jumped up, which is pretty unusual in this market. Maybe they can get that price in Australia? [scratch.gif]

Well here in Oregon we have a similar issue with new brands or labels popping up all the tiime. We are now closing in on about 600 brands and labels. We have lots of virtual wineries. I would say that for every 10 new labels that I taste
I will find maybe one or two that is worth considering. I customers who ask how come I don’t carry a certain brand of Oregon Pinot Noir. I have about 150. That is less than 10% of all the Pinots from here.

Local shop owner via Twitter:

@domaine547 Things not to do when trying to sell me wine: tell me it’s gone bad, but for $3/375 will make great sangria mixer for customers.

Not to de-rail the thread at all, but I hate when consumers ask why I don’t carry a certain wine, and it’s usually over priced wine or really obscure.

But back to the point at hand. I am in sales (I actually have a team of people that work under me), and I have no real natural sales ability. I can’t do the “hard sell”. I rely on the fact that we draw in smart consumers, and they are the ones that latch on to me, which is great. We have friendly conversation and I am able to recommend them wine to their tastes, so they keep coming back.

What’s funny about tie ins, they some times gain good traction, and end up on every shelf. Santa Cristina was that item, and it’s every where now. Same with Koonunga Hills (you had to buy TONS of the whites to get Grange, now they offer up dozens of cases with no strings attached! [rofl.gif] )

I like how Dustoff refered to the other board as “Eboob.” [rofl.gif]

Holy shit - if anyone is in the DC area, please look up Lee Klym and tell her that someone kidnapped Kevin and is posting on his WB account!

The art of sales? Tension in the salesperson/customer relationship?

Seriously, can Amber Alerts be issued for adults?