Thursday, October 20, 2011

preplanning will save you from a snowball?

Being a wine sales rep is easy right? Your job is so glamorous, all you do all day long is listen to music in your car in between quick friendly back and forths with your friends/ buyers, who also happen to give you glorious orders on a regular basis. Well, at least it feels that way about 2% of the time. The rest of your days are filled with dread trying to get ahead of all there is to do without making any major mistakes. If you forget one thing, it will snowball and bury you in an instant. Music in your car? Maybe in between deliveries on a Friday, otherwise, car time is phone/text/email time. Feeling helpless within the machine is de rigueur in the wine biz. So, how is non-sociopath supposed to deal with this constant dread and feeling of drowning? Organization.

This is not a 10 step, motivational, "what I learned in business" post. I am just telling you the one thing that any decent manager has already told you, that pre-planning is key. I ride with about 50 different sales reps on a semi-regular basis, I like to think I've seen it all. The best reps, without question, are the reps that have great organizational skills. In such a bohemian industry, where we are all peddling expressions of art/ intoxicating elixir/ natural products, it would seem that listening to "the man" would go against all of the rebellious intuition that landed us in the business in the first place. It does go against our instinct. It feels like a corporate, commodity driven approach to such a romantic product. Fight against that stigma. Here's the clichéd expression I'll trot out for this: "If you're not ahead of it, you're behind it". There's no way around it, all the charm and good intentions won't save you.

So, you may ask, how am I supposed to change? I'm not an organized person, my car is a mess, I'm a right-brainer for god's sake! That's fine, that's why you get excited about sherry and "a little" bret. You don't need to change you DNA. You need to do just 2 things: preplan and take notes.

You know how it's awesome how you can't even see your first account before 10am? That only means that you need to get all of your day's planning done before that first appointment. What do you need to plan? You need to have a quick outline of everything you need to talk to everyone about, written down. You need to remind them about old business(that taking notes thing), follow up on things they've asked you about previously, inform them of product updates, etc and scout new opportunities. Then there's note taking. While you are working your day, your accounts will invariably assume that you are their secretary. It's your role to keep them on point and reminded of all of the things they asked you to remind them about. They have a dozen sales reps, you have 80 accounts. They aren't expected to remember stuff, how are you supposed to? Write it down! Figure out a way to plan things forward, look back at notes, figure out your best method. Maybe you use a tablet or a computer. Whatever works. Just stay ahead of it.

You know how they say that showing up is half the battle/ well, your competition shows up too. I guarantee, if you are the most organized rep, you will sell the most wine.

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