Opening new accounts – the first touch

Opening new accounts is the lifeblood of the wine wholesale business. If you’re not opening new accounts on a regular basis you are beholden to the slicing up of the market by competitors. New business is the only way to stay ahead of that curve.

A simple prospecting tool is, of course, email. Make a form letter of introduction saying you have good things to offer, you think they would be a great fit, and that you’d very much appreciate the opportunity to show the wines.

Then you make a list of prospects. You call a restaurant and get the name of the manager. You send it off with a link to your whole portfolio because as you say in your form letter “we sell great wines so please check out our portfolio.” You hope for the best.

What’s wrong with this formula that is used by 99% of the wine reps out there? Oh, so many things!

  • You don’t know if you’re contacting the wine buyer, or if there is a wine buyer. You contact a manager that is then interrupted by your email and has to forward it to the wine buyer. Strike one.
  • Or maybe there is a wine buyer but the real decisions are made by the owner. Strike two.
  • It’s a form letter, which means that if you send it around town and people compare notes, they will see they got the same thing in their email boxes (never forget how tight the restaurant industry is). At that point, your credibility goes down the toilet. Form letters are the worst. Strike three. You haven’t even met this person once and you’re out already.

Ideas of what TO do:

  • Do the deeper homework of visiting the account (eat, spend some money, talk to the bartenders), meet the manager on duty, and get a feel of how wine decisions are made. Get the email of the decision maker and focus on her.
  • Don’t just send an email and hope. Have a plan. Follow up. Give them reasons and incentives to call you back. Follow up some more. Tenacity is what the reps at the largest wholesalers are taught first. Keep knocking on the doors.
  • Be honest. Be forthright. Have solving their goals, not opening a new account, the focus.
  • Make sure your email doesn’t read like a form letter. Keep it short but add information that shows you’ve done your homework.

The only goal is to get a face to face meeting. Focus on that as the only step you’re trying to hit, and you’ll find more success in prospecting.

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