Thursday, October 31, 2013

Jiro dreams of..... salespeople?

Sushi is a special and magical product. It may take a lifetime to master the balance of flavors, the perfect cuts, the technique. In the seminal film, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, this is the theme that is hammered home from the start. Jiro seemingly places sushi above everything, even family at times. The 85 yr old master believes that his son is still too green. When Jiro is pressed as to why he is so good, he heaps praise on his vendors. The brokers that deal with the fish markets always take care of him. Jiro believes he can be no better than his raw (literally) ingredients.A lifetime of trust and understanding of needs has helped to propel Jiro to the very pinnacle of sushi.  If Jiro simply price shopped or bullied his vendors, he would not be at the top, and the converse is also true, if his vendors had betrayed his trust, sold him low quality products, wasted his time or tried to make a quick yen, then the relationship would crumble.

Why don't we look at wine in the same context? Salespeople know which are the best wines in their books (if they don't, please excuse them from calling on you until they do). Maybe more to the point, they should know which are the best wines for each account. Which wines do they represent, that they can select to show to their accounts that make their wine program better, and that they can propel enthusiasm all the way down the chain? Which wines are they dumping on their accounts? Which wines are they placing on the reserve list to hit their unreachable goal for some giant, monolithic corporation? Do they even care? If you want a world class wine program, if you want a great wine program, if you want a smart wine program, you must view your wine vendors the same way Jiro views his fish mongers. You must be able to trust (or be trustworthy), you must know that your "wine mongers" have good palates, that they actually care. Salespeople sell, it's the nature of the beast, if you can take time to find the ones that aren't selling but connecting you with the best grade of fish or wine, the relationship can be in perfect balance, just like Jiro's sushi.

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