Early on selling wine I realized I had to make a choice: be honest and sell less in the near term, or be deceitful and sell more. This was not a difficult choice for me because even the smallest half truth causes me sleepless nights. So I chose to lose early with an honesty policy and hopefully win later with trust, even though supporting myself was in question at the time.
I have never regretted that decision and would do it all over again. Even though I know some salespeople in this market routinely hide the ball and “play” with their customers for sales, I watched them and learned what not to do.
Some classic maneuvers: hiding a price, then making it look like you made the deal, lying about farming practices, or lessening availability to make the wine seem more valuable…It is a big list of half-truths and goes on and on. The honest salesperson doesn’t play in this neighborhood.
I definitely could have taken multiple shortcuts and made the numbers look unbelievably sexy. There were opportunities to goose the whole market that I passed on, and I am certain other salespeople would say it was insane to not take them. I know this is a harder road, but ultimately, it was a foundational choice and I am staying put. Anytime I get the chance to give advice, I always mention this choice first. It defines a sales career.
“ Most buyers are accustomed to schnookery, or blatant sales tactics, that rely on jazz hands and a big finish, not the simple subtlety of an honest salesperson.
There are conflicts that arise after you make the decision to be honest with your customers. First one: every buyer says they want honesty but very rarely are they prepared for it. It isn’t their fault, actually, it is ours – the wine salespeople of America.
Most buyers are accustomed to schnookery*, or artful (many times deceitful…) sales tactics, that rely on jazz hands and a big finish, not the simple subtlety of an honest salesperson. A buyer of wine will be surprised, and possibly put off by honesty, at first. Don’t be deterred, it is natural to react this way. Stay the course.
The second one is that the delivery of honesty needs to harmonious with you and your style of communication, not used as a blunt instrument. You know what I mean. Honesty can be dropped like an anvil. I am not saying to never do this, but approach with extreme caution. Everyone is the author of their own experience, etc., but the way you communicate impacts the tone of the dialogue. Stay true, honest, and genuine, and this road will lead you to great people and trusting relationships. Nothing but good comes from this dynamic.
*Schnook is defined as a dunce. In recent years, it has become synonymous with a wine salesperson due to poignant and sarcastic writing by the late Joe Dressner.