Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How to Be a Good Wine Distributor

by Rob Bralow, Wine Post Editor

Have you ever bought a car? You needed four wheels that moved when you wanted them to and stopped when you said so. Therefore you went to the used car lot, because why go for the newest, top of the line model when it will be devalued $5k the moment you drive it off the lot.

And then there's the car salesman.

He (or she - we are all about equal opportunity here) is a pleasant person when you first meet them, but that's the last time you think they are your friend. After that they grate on your nerves to buy this most excellent green car, or look this grey one has a sun roof! What about this one? No don't worry about the mileage, it's a great car, I promise...

You know exactly what I am talking about.

It is a trap that sales people fall into all the time. You want to make the sale, but it's really not a natural way of speaking when you start waxing on how much this one product is so awesome, and so is this one... oh and this one is also amazing.

What if it was your job to listen to people trying to sell you things every day?

Welcome to my world.

That's right, that is what a Wine Buyer does. It is actually in my job description to interact with these people who are trying to sell me their wares. The best distributors are the ones who effortlessly show me their wines or spirits, enjoy a moment of time with me (perhaps not even talking about wine) and then leave.

The worst want to tell me their life story and then the life story of each product they have. They want to know when I am going to buy from them. They want to know why I am not buying at that very moment. They want to know why I did not like this product that they think I absolutely should have. They want to know why...

Chill. I will buy when I am ready to buy. There are hundreds of reasons why I am not buying right then and there. The primary reason is that I don't do that. Then there is 'How much money for inventory do I have to play with?' Then I need to make sure we have a need on the shelf for that product. Just because I like it does not mean I think it will sell (which is another thing I need to think about). Then I need to run it by the boss. And then, if it is sunny and warm outside and we are feeling particularly good, we might decide to put in a small order. That is if your company does not have too high a minimum purchase for your products. If there is, then we are involved in a whole 'nother ball game, which might require another few months of tasting and considering.

If you are not willing to put up with that, then do not come knocking on my door.

Do I break my rules? All the time. The circumstances? If I have the budget and we have a need for that particular product in the store.

And if you think you have a product that I NEED then see the paragraph above about the car salesman.
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