What is the modern wine wholesaler?

It’s never been this hard for wine sales reps.

It used to be that you could sell on quality because there was a lot of crap wines being pushed into the market. Train your customers what good wine was all about, then they would buy what you were selling.

Then we entered the era of the brands. Have a Ferrari-Carano, Jordan, Duckhorn, or Rombauer in your portfolio and that was a ticket in the door to meet with many buyers.

Then the pendulum swung in the other direction. If you had the obscure, the fun, the rare but affordable, the cool kid wines, then the newly minted somms wanted to get to know you and your portfolio. Big name brands? That was a suddenly a weight and a negative for many buyers.

So where does that leave us now?

Well, a few things to keep in mind.

First, there is no substitute for a good business partnership. Communication, billing, delivery, honesty, outreach, and teamwork. This is where established wholesalers have a leg up on the newbies.

Second, there is no substitute for fresh energy. New portfolio additions, fresh ideas, first-to-the-market kind of stuff. This is where the new wholesalers have a leg up on the established wholesalers.

Third, there is no substitute for pricing integrity. Mega wholesalers use price as a sales tool, causing a cycle that becomes a race to the bottom. Let them fight it out. You don’t want to win that race.

The modern and successful wholesaler and their reps have learned how to tell the stories of their wines, how to find opportunity in the market, and how to sell with renewed passion.

It’s harder than it’s ever been, which makes choosing your customers all the more important, for it you haven’t chosen your customers then you’re wasting the most valuable resource, time. Choosing your customers doesn’t mean you ignore the rest of the market. It doesn’t mean you burn bridges. It means that you put your concentrated energy into a handful of carefully selected accounts that understand you, your company, your portfolio, and your goals. It means choosing your partners and treating them with respect.

The modern wine wholesaler is a small business that takes good care of their customers. Simple as that.

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