Wine, Food & Drink Articles

Submit Your Article View More Articles

Selling Wine In 2020. And Why It Matters.

by Amanda Wilson

A pandemic. Election anxiety. Murder hornets. Fires. Protests and riots. Virtual schools. More hurricanes than we have letters for. Proof social media is changing humanity. Seriously - what’s not to stress about in 2020?

At times it feels wrong, even futile to continue with business as usual amongst all the external pressures and anxieties we’re all experiencing. We say to ourselves things like, How is it appropriate for me to place a sales call right now? What do I say?

I hear these kinds of comments from people across industries. Whether you’re selling software, marketing construction services, or printing t-shirts. We have something similar to survivor’s guilt, even though we’re all in this together. We think to ourselves that whomever we’re selling to is going to think we’re greedy or callous. Or worse, we’re so wrapped up in how everything is impacting ourselves that we forget our customers, suppliers, and everyone we come in contact with are impacted as well.

But never more so than now is it important for us to continue to do good work. We’re in this business to bring amazing products and experiences to people to make them happy and feel connected with others. The wine and food industry is made up of people who are social by nature, who want to delight others and are grounded in hospitality. We have an opportunity to bring some normalcy, pleasure, and connectedness to others that is critically needed right now.

“Your work is too important to be left to how you feel today.”
— Seth Godin

In this interview, Seth Godin, one of today’s most prolific writers, says something that struck a chord with me. He states, “Your work is too important to be left to how you feel today.” Read that again. I had to rewatch that part a couple of times before it sunk in. When it did, I smiled broadly and was reminded of why I’m here. Why I chose to be in this business and work with the people that I do.

Now keep in mind, I say all this assuming you do, in fact, strive to do good work. That you’re in this business because you want to do good work and make people happy. If not, then well this article definitely isn’t going to help you.

But if you are, then let me remind you of this: What you do matters. Our lives have never been more so impacted by our daily interactions with one another. Isolation and frustration creep up on us and we crave human interaction. You can make an impact. What you do matters to people around you. No matter what it is. It’s in the day-to-day where we find our solace, purpose, and clarity that this too shall pass.

A good salesperson is the one who is never trying to sell. A good salesperson educates, delights, and adds value to the customer beyond just taking payment. It’s in this light, with this definition of “good work” that the below tips (or reminders) can help you get over your survivor’s guilt and continue to do the good work.

The good news - people are drinking more wine and becoming more adventurous. Two things that align well with your efforts in selling wine. Even in 2020. According to a article, “It seems like people are drinking more. People might want to drink at lunch [but] maybe don’t want as heavy a wine.”

And many wine-shop owners have noticed their customers seem increasingly interested in exploring new wine regions. The article also states, “It’s interesting to see people becoming more adventurous. Maybe the same old, same old doesn’t hold your attention.”

Four Tips on Selling Wine
So there are plenty of reasons to keep up the good work. To help motivate you, here are four tips on selling wine in 2020 - and beyond!

Socially distant, of course. We mean socialize on social media.

Many salespeople immediately cringe when you say “social media” and say “I’m not in marketing.” But that’s part of the reason it is so impactful when a salesperson is on social media and engaging with their customers and products. Your customers and prospects want to see you enjoying your own products - if it’s good enough for you, maybe it’s good enough for them. If you won’t drink a wine, why should they? And supporting your local restaurants and shops by sharing their news and posts is tremendously impactful. Help spread their news of reopening, new hours, or special events. This shows you not only follow their business but that you care to help them succeed.

What thing of value can you bring to each interaction with your customers and prospects? Is there a recent article you think they’d find interesting? Local news? Or is there something you can do or create that is helpful to them regarding the wine you’re selling? Maybe create a “cheat sheet” for the wines you are selling that week. Or a summary of the region or winemaker of the wines in your bag. Anything to help them consume and understand the information you’re hoping to share. These tools not only are extremely helpful, but they are also memorable and a physical leave behind will remind them of you and your wines.

This is a tough one. But one we generally forget. We often are so anxious and wrapped up in what we are trying to get out of the meeting or conversation, that we forget to empathize with our customer or prospect and show the patience and understanding they deserve. We get frustrated when they don’t pick up their phone, or reschedule a meeting yet again, or multi-task as we’re trying to tell them why they should love our wine. But remember you don’t know how they have been impacted. Don’t assume they are being rude or blowing you off, but more likely that they are dealing with something as a result of this crazy year that is distracting them from their best self. A little grace goes a long way.

When in doubt, ask. In a meaningful way, not in a perfunctory greeting like, “how are you?”. Ask specific questions like what their biggest challenge is this week. Or how their customers are responding to the new operating hours. Whatever it is, ask it and mean it, and LISTEN to their response. They are likely tired and frustrated and thinking too much about how to make it through the day instead of how they, in turn, can delight their customers. Ask questions that help them think about their sales and marketing approach instead of what a cluster things are right now.

As a bonus, download our free guide on How to Sell More Wine (without a big marketing budget) and steal some ideas from there. Maybe you can give them an idea for their email newsletter. Or what to add to their website that customers would find valuable. Or just send them a copy of the guide for themselves. In the end, they need to see you as someone who adds value to their day, and they look forward to seeing again. Regardless of if and when they buy the wine you’re carrying right now.

While the above is written through the lens of a wine rep selling their portfolio to stores and restaurants, this list is equally relevant for servers, hospitality staff, and restaurant or store managers. And quite frankly, anyone trying to market or sell their products right now.

Just remember what you do matters. You have a chance to bring some positivity, a little wine-derlust, and inspiring vibes to your customers amongst all the anxiety. Do good work. It matters.


About the Author

Amanda Wilson - Amanda is the Co-founder and Managing Director of Ahtel Wines, an importer of wines from Central Europe. Prior to getting into the wine business, she held various marketing leadership roles in many tech startup companies building business from scratch while also driving growth. She holds the WSET Level 2 Award, and when not marketing brilliant wines, she is golfing, motorcycling, skiing or just cooking at home with friends and family.

Visit Amanda Wilson's Website