Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Work-With

I can't remember if I have posted about this before, so if I'm repeating myself, sorry. As a wine sales rep, one of the things you get to/have to deal with are "Work-Withs", also called "Ride Alongs." This is where somebody from one of your suppliers works the day with you, as you see your accounts, and you only focus on their products. I bring this up because I have a work-with today, and I'm taking around a guy that I have never met before. Sometimes these days can be really fun. If the person is cool, you can get into a lot of accounts, sell some wine, and they usually buy me lunch. If they aren't cool, then the day can be about 10 hours of pure torture. I can usually tell how the entire day is going to go based on my first account-call with the person. A good supplier realizes that we know our accounts intimately. We know what makes them tick, and also what will keep them from ever buying the product being featured again. A good supplier also listens to us when we say what to focus on, or what not to bring up. A bad supplier ignores our experience with the account, because they think they know everything there is to know about sales.

For example, I once rode with a German wine supplier in Boston. This chick (who only worked there for about 6 months) literally brought along 11 different rieslings to sample, in the middle of January, with a foot of snow on the ground- not the optimal time. I would say to her "This next stop is Bargain Spot. He knows some about wine, but not enough to know the difference in all 11 rieslings. Pick 3 that you want to show him, and focus on those." The idiot rep still drug out all 11 bottles, and the owner gave me a look that said "get her the hell out of here." I did, and he bought nothing.

I have had two suppliers fall asleep in my car because they drank too much the night before.

I have had several suppliers try to throw their weight around in an account, resulting in them getting all of their product permanently banned from the store.

I have had one supplier that talked so rudely to an account I kicked him out of my car 3 hours early.

I had one supplier that drank so much during the day, I was worried dropping her off at her rental car because she was obliterated at the end.

Bad suppliers get what I call a lot of "windshield time." I will sacrifice being alone in a car with them for extended periods, just so I don't have to tarnish my relationships with my accounts. The way to do this is to act like you have an account call first in Chesterfield, then downtown, then lunch, then out to Wildwood, then maybe Clayton. By this time, they get the point, act like they have work to do in their hotel room, and ask to be dropped off.

This is not to say that all work-withs are bad. I had an amazing lunch talking about wine with a winery owner from Alsace. I had one of the top meals of my life eating dinner with a rep from Chicago. I got in a car wreck with a supplier in the car (not my fault), and we still laugh about it to this day. I had another rep set my parents up with an incredible winery tour and dinner. I have sold hundreds of cases of wine by putting the right rep in front of the right account.

Let's just hope that today's guy is more of the latter, and less of the former. If you see me cruising back and forth on 40, you know how my day is going.


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