To the Salesperson: What to do in a Down Month
There have been long stretches where I have been on a roll and couldn’t even imagine what a down month looks and feels like.
The moment you think a down month can’t happen to you, guess what comes a knockin’?
This is precisely why I am writing this down. Read it when you need to.
The Down Month
It is August of 2019 and I am not having my greatest month of sales. It will likely be a down month year over year, and I have never had more understanding of the movements of the market and what I offer. But, shit happens and here I am.
Did I see it coming? Yes. In many ways, it is just one of those things. A perfect wine storm. It is a super rare pop up in 12 years of hard-hit line drives. I tend to not think any month is worth the worry (I think in 6-month blocks), but in the beverage sales game it is much better to understand why a month trended a certain way.
A few years ago, I would have been sweating myself to sleep. Dreaming of the suffocating action duo of coulda and woulda. But today I breathe easily.
So – when you are having a tough one, lean on this message: what defines our sales game is how we deal with challenges, not any percentage. There is no perfect and there are few (if any) constants. In the most volatile and fast-changing beverage market in the world, yo’ shit will get f’ed up and you will need to be able to roll with it.
So what does one do?
How to deal with a down month
Find a Win
Look beyond the surface and pat yourself on the back for a few things. Realize that keeping glass pours and wine flowing in the most competitive market in the world is a total win.
Go see someone you truly treasure.
When I struggle, I do everything I can to laugh and spend time with people I really dig. It’s one of the great goldmines of our business. You can always just hit the bar and have a blast.
To do or not to do?
Look at what you can actually do.
Don’t tighten up and just email more. Do something that makes actual connective sense. A real action that propels dialogue in an empathetic way.
Find a Challenge
Is there a curmudgeon-y bro somm that needs to be taken down with a thoughtful Jedi wine move? Go connect them to the absolute right wine for them. Surprise with forethought.
Get. A. PHILOSOPHY
I have gone over this in many posts. I am on record. Having your own philosophy is crucial.
What are you trying to do? If moving boxes and numerical attaboys/attagirls is the philosophy, I can see the meltdown coming. And…it will be devastating.
My philosophy is like my secret mantra. When all else fails, I meditate on the mantra. The constantly changing nature of the NYC market is a beast and having something to go to that is yours will only serve you.
Don’t go Dark
Decide not to engage with the worrying gremlin in your head. Breathe deeply. Enjoy wine, make art, listen to ‘trane. Try the opposite thing.
I know people who are constantly in a recession mindset. Pay attention – but stay off the dark side of the sales game. That side of the aisle is crowded and a bad neighborhood.
Let it go
IF you find yourself really struggling…
Look at the history and write down what led up to the month – what went right and what went wrong. Then write down what you plan to shift around or change next time. Now – let it go. Or reach out to me. @iamlooper
“ ...what defines our sales game is how we deal with challenges, not any percentage.
Epilogue – A Related Story
A conjoined business you have…
Heads up: You are tied to the business of your accounts. You cannot control or predict the trajectory of their business.
That account that is on complete fire today could be in a legal battle tomorrow. A partner could go rogue and disrupt that business forever. A 10k a month account could go to 0 tomorrow. I don’t mean to sound fatalistic, but you must have a longer viewpoint. When it is going well, enjoy it fully and at the same time don’t engage in the thought that it will be that same lovely dynamic forever.
Years ago, I had the biggest sale of my career (an ocean of wine) and a month later they were late paying. I coordinated with the wine director to pick up a check the next day, and when I arrived the doors were chained up and the account was closed forever. In fact, the restaurant that took that space over sold some of the wines for profit. And the crooked previous chef with the closed restaurant took all the expensive Burgundy to his house.
Due to a recent rant post from an Instagram Crazy Wine Importer, I feel the need to make this clear: better people make better business people. They also make better business partners. Keep that in mind when you make that sale to the chum hunting shark who views you as a pass-through or the hot shit restaurant in a constant #metoo brawl.
You can’t control the business of your customers.
If they are dead and struggling and you decide to send 20cs of wine to them, are you a great partner? Only if you have their best interests in mind.