Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's Hard out Here for a Pimp

I was watching the Oscars on Sunday, cheering wildly for "Man or a Muppet". I was considering how Jason Segel made a great Muppet movie, in large part, because of his enthusiasm and passion for the Muppets. You may laugh, but that film is brilliant. I think so, my kids think so, the critics think so, and even rottentomatoes.com thinks so. There are a thousand reasons why he shouldn't have even tried to make this movie, among them, The Muppets haven't been relevant for 20 years, nostalgia rarely hits the right tone, no CGI, and many more. Segel persisted, and made this successful largely because he was so passionate, sincere and enthusiastic. In fact, that was the only way he could have made this successful.

Then, I remembered the rap song in the title of this post, and while the song is ok, and the film from which it came was pretty good (Hustle and Flow), the 2 songs made me think about wine. Huh? Well, they made me think of how we approach our job of sales in the wine industry, or more to the point, the 2 contrasting approaches to sales.

How many of you are slogging through your day, waiting to be done, turn your phone off, put your feather duster away and escape? You hustle through your day, working your ass off, sitting in meetings, waiting in line, opening boxes, begging for placements to hit your quota, getting yelled at by accounts, picking up a case of wine and delivering it to the other side of town all while trying to transmit your orders. Wine and your love for wine rarely enter into the equation. You are pimpin' and hustlin', and it's a damn hard way to make living.

Your life should actually be like this:

Well, not exactly, but you get the idea. spending a day talking to your friends about something you love, wine, is a great job. If you bring enthusiasm and passion into your day, life's a piece of cake. Seriously, if you love wine, then you need to remind yourself that your are TALKING ABOUT WINE ALL DAY LONG, that's how you get paid! If you're really good, you get paid well. If the company you work for has sapped all of the joy out of your day, then you need to either fix your situation or update your resume. There isn't any room for the joyless in this business, because the people with passion and enthusiasm will flatten you and your feather duster. Like I always say, you may as well be selling widgets.

Friday, February 3, 2012

a new approach to competition

At our most Darwinian, we are competitive. It's natural, we can't escape it, and it's always there deep down. We are often at our ugliest when we are competitive. We aren't great neighbors, we're not great advocates, and we're certainly not a trustworthy resource.
There are sales managers that approach this business with a Cobra Kai mentality. they want nothing less than domination. They want to write the wine list, print the wine list and then walk into the restaurant like they own the wine list. Then, they become territorial when the buyer even considers buying from another distributor. I've even seen them get angry when the buyer (the customer for god's sake!) wants to replace the item that is important to the distributor with a different item from the same distributor, but of less importance. That's getting off track though, apologies.
The point is, distributors, top to bottom, often forget who their customer is, and as a result, turn themselves into untrustworthy resources for their customers. The approach that blocking your competitors will generate greater sales is a flawed concept. While you may dominate market share in certain accounts, you will fail in areas where you could succeed if you were credible and trustworthy.
Good wine programs buy from a number of sources. while they may prefer to deal with a small group, it will always be in the buyer's best interest to buy from multiple outlets. Assuming, as a rep, that you are getting a piece of the pie, don't you want to be the one that the buyer leans on for candid and trustworthy experience and advice? If you can demonstrate that the customer's best interests are your best interests, you can build a reciprocal relationship. Going against nature, you may need to compliment, or even show professionalism to your competition. You may need to work with them to help find the best combination of selections to make your client the most money. your disparaging remarks, maneuvering and jealousy won't help you sell more wine.
It really comes down to some sage philosophy that's been floating around for some time "You only need to worry about you, the rest will take care of itself". So true, your competitors are out of your control, but if you are better than them, smarter than them, work harder than them, and are nicer than them, guess what you have mastered? The crane kick.