Monday, September 13, 2010

Kings of the 4-day work week

"Wine sales", as was once told to me by a mentor, "is the hardest business to be great in, but the easiest to be bad in". What he was getting at, of course, is the impossibility of accounting for a sales rep's time. It's pretty easy to do the bare minimum, work a modified cherry account run, and still earn a buck. As managers, we assume they are diligently seeing all of their accounts, giving solid presentations, volunteering for events, and generally being accountable. The reality is, we have no real way to know on a day to day basis what is going on out there. There are plenty of companies that try to make them submit plans for the day ahead, or for the previous week, but no one ever really double checks.
What has eventually happened, is the entire day of Friday has been largely written off as a selling day. There are usually no deliveries on the next business day (Monday), and it has become culturally acceptable to be creative with this time. This is the most common day for sales meetings, sometimes requiring many hours in the car to and from. Often the time is utilized for end of week paperwork, and emergency weekend deliveries. What if this time were used to sell wine? What if you were to take a bag of samples out, say, 2 Fridays a month?
There are a number of reasons beyond the cynical that we don't really work the market on Fridays. Many retailers are busy getting ready for the weekend, ditto restaurants. But what if you are likely the only rep out there on Friday, and you have an appointment? You will get a better crack at an uninterrupted presentation than if there are 4 reps lined up behind you. If you are well regarded by your accounts, they may even welcome the diversion. Each account is a little different, so Friday's need to be handled carefully. This presents an opportunity to be better than good enough, and certainly better than the majority of your competitors.

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