Are you an affable, dependable, smiling well-groomed, honest and conscientious salesperson? That's good, but it's just not enough. You may be missing out on engagement. In this new era of social media, we are always discussing engagement. In those circles, engagement is the back and forth dialogue with the people that read your blog, twitter feed etc. The term has certainly been co-opted by the new mediums, but what does it mean in a one-on-one sales call?
Engagement is simple but very telling. It is a conversation. It can be small talk all the way up to real conversations about sales. Being that we are in the wine industry, we are surrounded by educated, intelligent, opinion spewing machines we call wine geeks. Wine geeks want to know how you feel about certain things, film, music art often will flow through conversations and a little friendly ribbing can be acceptable. When it comes to wine, however, many salespeople will be diplomats and start answering questions like they're on the witness stand. They are slightly uncomfortable with having a candid conversation and issuing a real opinion. Why do some salespeople close up the opinion shop when asked? Simple-Bad Training!
Many sales training professionals advise us to be aloof, vanilla, never controversial. This works great when you're taking an order for The Cheesecake Factory, but when you go to Joe's Underground Geek Wine Emporium, you better have an opinion to back up your TJ Maxxx tie. Your credibility as a sales rep will be made or broken depending on your opinions about all wine geek things. If you have an opinion, you'd better share it and back it up. If you don't have an opinion, you should probably ask for a different route.
This is engagement. This is the real back and forth between wine professionals besides the rote: weather kids, economy conversations. And with many accounts, its in these margins where you will succeed or fail.