Wine sales can be tricky. Unlike other sales jobs, there are few “constants” and the sales cycle is shorter and more unpredictable. But I am seeing a lot of mistakes repeatedly made on the street that can be easily remedied. Below are the classic top five mistakes and some thoughts on how to avoid them.
I hope this helps.
#1. Fetishizing the appointment
It is romantic to think that sitting and tasting wine with someone will solve all sales problems and make everyone understand, but I can tell you with confidence that the moment you start fetishizing the “appointment,” you are lost. It is over. Finito.
You must find another way. The answer is in this question: Why would they ask YOU to sit/taste and not the other way around?
#2. Account Hunting on Eater
Trying to find new accounts? Eater should never be your primary source. Do pay attention to it, because it CAN give you a heads up, but keep in mind that everyone else sees it – and therein lies the problem.
Best way to find accounts in NYC? Take a walk. I know, it is a lot less sexy and requires much more time, but you will find much more gold. Many worthwhile accounts in the city never appear on a Heatmap.
#3. Preparation and the Bag full of “everything”
I used to sit at a bar in midtown waiting to taste behind a line of reps and watch them open twelve bottles of wine for a buyer that was rarely going to buy one case from them. Contrastingly, I would roll in with less than 4 bottles and the buyer would take a few cases. There was no genius in this, I had done my work before I got there. I knew what the gent liked and what in my portfolio had a chance.
Never open bottles for a closed mind – and do whatever work you can ahead of time to know what you have that is actually worth showing. Also, (and most importantly) avoid the trap of trying to have a bag full of wine that has something perfect for everyone. It can really lock you up. This bag of wine doesn’t exist, and you will always be missing something. Don’t worry – this is a good thing.
“ Many worthwhile accounts in the city never appear on a Heatmap.
#4. ‘Over Talking’ the Wines
Don’t over talk the wines. Want to have connective conversations with some of the best wine professionals in the world that buy wine in NYC? Stop ‘over explaining’ the technical, mundane, google-able aspects of the wine and get to what is true about it. If you actually know something deeper, artfully share it.
And while you are at it, ask a question and just listen. Watch how someone tastes. Learn from them. Then think about how you present wine to them.
#5. It ain’t surgery, it’s the wine biz
In 2007, a superstar veteran salesperson said something to me that changed my career. He told me that I shouldn’t take this job too seriously. Even though I was struggling at the time just to get by, he was right. I smelled of fear, and no one wants to work with that. Faint desperation is not a good look.
Stay as light as you can with the job of selling wine. If you have to have that sale, you need to re-evaluate what you are doing so it isn’t that serious.