Missing the Free Throw

A basketball player steps up to the line. This is no ordinary basketball player. He’s a professional, paid millions of dollars to put the ball through the hoop. There is no defense. Nobody attacking them. It’s a free throw.

And how often will they miss? On average in the NBA, over the last two decades, they will miss 24.75% of the time.

In the wine sales business, certain moments are free throws. Your customers, the buyers at retailers and restaurants, might say:

  • “We’re looking to do more business in the [fill in the blank] category.”
  • “That wine (from your competitor) just isn’t working for us, we need something new.”
  • “That other distributor keeps screwing up all their pricing and I’m still waiting for credits.”
  • “I really like that last wine we stacked up. I made a ton of money on it. What else do you have like that?”

In all of these examples, the buyer is basically holding the door open for you and inviting you in. It’s a free throw. And it’s amazing how many sales reps miss it. The sales rep either doesn’t hear it, or doesn’t react immediately to it, or defers the opportunity by saying something like “Let’s talk more about that next week!” That doesn’t work. Next week the door will be closed. A free throw has to be taken right away when the opportunity is there.

The bigger goal? Be like Elena Delle Donne, who makes 95% of her free throws. How much would your business go up at that point?

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