1WD reader Robert has written in to yours truly, with an interesting double-barreled challenge. I think that we need the collective wisdom of the insanely-intelligent, hyper-attractive, overly-inebriated, and mega-hyphenated 1WD readership to help this guy. Also, I’m in Champagne this week collecting vinous memories that will make you all jealous, so I could use a little help here as I can’t effectively type with one hand while the other is busy raising glasses of amazing bubbly to my face.
Here’s Robert’s request:
I am brand new to the world of wine, sure I drank my share but now want to get serious in the industry of selling, sampling and the tastings of all types of wine. I just took on a sales rep position with a small fine wine importer/distributor and want to learn on best ways to succeed. Any advice on what baby steps to take or where to begin as a sales rep would be very much appreciated.
Notice that Robert has a dual challenge here, in that he simultaneously needs to learn the fine wine ropes (primarily, I’m guessing, through tasting, which – lucky for him – has already been touched on in Reader Mailbag form here), and in learning the fine wine sales rep ropes.
Now, I know that there is no shortage of the wine sales rep populace reading 1WD, so I’m asking you folks to help brother Robert!
Shout it out loud in the comments, people: what advice would you give to a newly-minted wine sales rep?
1WD reader Matt (that’s all your getting, as I don’t have permission to print the person’s full name here) recently wrote to me via an email with a title so intriguing, it sparked the first-ever “reader mailbag” style post on this site in its seven-some-odd-year history:
“Trying New Wine Is A Pain In The Ass”
There’s much juiciness to be squeezed from Matt’s email, so I’ll first reprint it here before addressing Matt’s questions in detail:
“Let me rephrase that… Trying new *quality* wine is a pain in the ass, literally in the wallet. Its all a gamble really and I’d bet that the average person, let alone the active wine drinker wants to bet on a $50 bottle. We are not all in your position where nice wines may be shipped to us for tasting purposes in hopes that you blog about it.
So… My reason for contact is this. Today I read the article, ‘Wine execs are scared of the craft beer and spirits growth.’ You probably read it since its well circulated. Following the gambling terminology, beer and spirits have a relatively low buy-in. If that bet pays off and I like it, then I can opt for the higher price points. Quality wine, on the other hand, does not have this low cost of buy-in. It’s all or nothing and if you get burned once, then you will likely never go all-in on a 50+ bottle again.
I’m curious, do you have any opinions on opportunities of low buy-in options for higher priced wines? The tasting room is the only opportunity I can think of and that is not exactly mass market. When exactly does the average person opt for that $50 bottle cab? marketing fluff? friends advice? impressing the boss? Do wine drinkers randomly buy expensive wines that they have never had before? If not, when are they exposed to them that creates a buying opportunity? I’d love to hear your comments and what your readers may think. I’ve never met a wine I didn’t like… to try. Thanks Joe! Matt.”
Talk about food (or drink?) for thought! And Matt seems to want to hear your responses to all of this as well, so it’s giving us a nice opportunity to argue in the best internecine fashion that is the hallmark of modern wine discourse!
Well, Matt, following are my responses. I hope you don’t mind the delay, I just wanted to share the dialog with a (much) wider audience!…
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