When to walk away
Years ago, I used to go to Marseille on 44th st. and sit in a line to show a few wines to the Wine Director. It was a lineup – same time, same day, everyone who comes gets to taste with the Sommelier.
Every single time I had to wait for an hour plus and I watched every other rep put on their show. I listened as much as I could to every meeting I could and then I took my turn.
The buyer never took more than a few cases of anything and I am not sure he ever bought big from anyone.
To most managers and owners, this type of account would appear to be a colossal waste of time. Not true.
I learned so much from those that presented wine. What they would say. The stories they would shape.
What not to do was often on full display.
I also met people that were just beginning as reps that now own their own companies.
A few basic points that I have mentioned before:
It is possible to show too much wine.
Anyone can sell a label everyone knows.
Listening matters more than artful storytelling, but both woven together are the Jedi move.
Buyers have a style of buying that has nothing to do with their palate, and is likely more important. You should figure out both.
“ Sometimes you have to walk away from an account that has meant a lot to you.
One day in the Fall, I walked away. I decided to let the account go and pass it along to someone else.
It had nothing to do with the monthly number, which had actually built up.
It also had nothing to do with the wine director, who was skilled and I had a good relationship with.
I looked around and I realized I had outgrown the account – I couldn’t wait in line anymore. It didn’t feel right anymore. I learned what I needed to, connected what I could to that Sommelier/program and now it was time to move on.
You have to make choices as a rep that appear counterintuitive, but open doors that others can’t see. Management will likely not understand because they see customers as a constant stream, but we know better. There is no stream. There is no real constant.
Sometimes you have to walk away and start something over.
Go make waves.