From the REPublic: can’t we all just get along?

November 4, 2011 · 8 comments

The lovely 3-tier system in our country ensures that each little post or submission that’s put up on this site has at least 2 other viewpoints. And we haven’t even dragged the consumer into this whole mess. So let’s see, we got winemakers, supplier sales managers, importers, distributors, territory sales managers, brand managers, sales reps, and of course winebuyers… who am I missing? Most likely a whole gaggle of folks. The point is, we’re all out there struggling and fighting, pushing and shoving, shouting and finagling, all for the same thing: a consumer’s wine purchase.


So you would think we would all be working together, our suppliers and our sales managers would be there to help eachother and to help us on the streets and even to help our winebuyers… and I believe we all TRY to work together, but there’s obviously often a disconnect somewhere in the chain. Here’s yet another facet: Dear supplier, From an On-Premise Sales Manager…

(FYI Supplier: I’m a sucker for a sales incentive, by the way. I don’t get them dangled in front of my nose very often, but as soon as I do, I’m off like a greyhound at the races after one of those silly little stuffed rabbits. But $5 a case? Yeah. Save it.)

Dear Supplier,

1: No one cares about medals… from anywhere. I don’t care if your chardonnay got the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism. No one cares.

2: No one cares about Wine Enthusiast, California Grapevine, Wine and Spirits, etc. Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate… period. If it is less than 90 points, don’t send it to me. Best Buy? No one gives a shit.

3: $5 case for an incentive. Keep it. No one gives a shit.

4: Incentive with house goal. Don’t waste your time. My reps are not going to bust their ass to help another rep get a trip to a spa in Napa. Don’t waste your time.

5: Thanks for the generous incentive. No, you do not need to come into the market and do ride-withs to drive your incentive. You put in the incentive, so we would sell your wine for you. Stay at home and play angry birds.

6: Do not request a power point projector for your sales meeting. We hate power point slides and we will hate you for showing them to us.

7: Do not talk about wines that we do not carry at your sales meeting presentation. If we can’t sell it now, we don’t give a shit.

8. Do not talk about wines you represent from another distributor at an account. If you do it at an account, you will be left at that account. You will have the rest of the day to discuss your other offerings.

9. Take notes during your work-with. Do not expect the rep to do the recap. If you don’t have a pen and a scrap of paper, we will give you one.

10: If your shit is stacked at local grocery and club stores, we will not sell it. We don’t give a shit what your bosses want.

11. I’m glad your national accounts rep got a mandatory placement at Applebees. If we have to follow up on it, then it is not mandatory. If it is optional, no one gives a shit…including the Courtyard, Fairfield Inn, Best Western, etc. Mr. Patel is not interested in ordering a Russian River pinot noir.

12. Do not remind us what a hot category Pinot Grigio is because you finally got around to making one. By the way, Pinot Gris is NOT Pinot Grigio. This also applies to the Malbec category with one caveat: if it is not from Argentina, please leave it in the bag.

13. Your Chardonnay sucks. Everyone’s chardonnay sucks. Chardonnay sucks. EVERYONE has a chardonnay.

14. We are not taking you to “Key Accounts”. We are taking you to the accounts that will see you on the day that you requested…period.

15. When we are done for the day, we are done. No, I do not want to have a drink or dinner with you. I just spent a whole day with you.

On-Premise Sales Manager

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom Wark November 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm

1. Ok.

2. Really? It’s possible you don’t know your own business. As for the 90 Point thing, I agree.

3. OK

4. OK

5. Too often wholesales must be pushed hard to sell a wine, despite the fact they say they will sell the wine. So you can understand why the supplier might want to ride your ass. Experience tells them it’s too often necessary.

6. Too often sales reps only respond to shiny things…like dogs who have short attention spans. This has been witnessed too many times. Forgive the desire to get your attention.

7. Makes sense.

8. OK

9. Gotcha. (Note to self: Reps probably wont take notes if you are with them———wonder if they will when we aren’t “ride their assWiths?)

10. Nice. But too often par for the course——not giving a shit, that is.

11. OK

12. God forbid something innovative is offered. But the attitude is understood. So, OK.

13. You need to get out more.

14. OK

15. Gotcha. Don’t be surprised that the feeling is mutual.


Hammertime November 7, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Here is the turnaround from the supplier side:

Dear moderately retarded Big 5 Distributor/Monopoly/Mob (CEO, VP, GM, Specialist, Sales Rep),

Yes, we realize you don’t give a shit about our products, but we still have to deal with you. We’d prefer to use FedEx, UPS, or even the US Postal Service, because really you guys don’t sell shit, you take orders and deliver boxes.

Badly, I might add.

However, due to the 21st Amendment, we’re stuck with you.

We need to do ridewiths so that we can join you and your GM’s in your accounts that you haven’t visited in months and clean up the messes you have caused. It’s also to make sure that you’re on message and actually know what you’re talking about.

Islay is pronounced I-la.

We actually like awards and ratings because it’s the only way to get you fucks to actually talk about our products somewhat coherently. An SF Spirits Competition Double Gold is like Pavlov to his dogs. Woof-Woof.

We’re also there because we have the Amex Cards and you couldn’t sell shit without us coming in and spending $2000 at your account.

You don’t have an Amex Card do you? If you do, when was the last time you actually brought it out and bought a supplier a drink?

Never, so fuck you, I’ll feed you, and buy you and you’re fucking 20 man retard team drinks when I feel like it.

Remember at OND when the heat is on and you need some “love”, recall that it’s me who you call to bring some holiday cheer, i.e. $$$$, so you can sell in your quotas with the newest flavor of Cuervo Black Lime/Bite at Gary Danko. Nice try by the way, but let’s move on. I don’t even mind waiting while you load up the account with my competitor’s products, business is business.

Also, just so you know, we have to bribe your GM’s with Amex gift cards so that they kick your asses and you actually focus on selling the non-quota high-end shit that rocks, but you’re too shitty at sales to sell. We also spend a ton with your company anyway; this is in addition to the kick backs we give to their bosses.

Anyway, just an FYI, you have some spaghetti sauce on your tie, oh, it’s a clip on? Ok.


Winemaker November 8, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Dear Retailer / Distributor,

As someone who has gone on hundreds of ride-alongs over the last 15 years, I promise you have made your lack of interest in any wine that does not sell itself painfully clear.

Of course you don’t want to hear about competition results as that would require you actually change your talkers or speak to the customer. Of course you only want a massive discount so the temporary fire-sale will move the wine without effort. Of course you want a 90+ from the two rags that bring in the sheep and move the product without you lifting a finger of effort.

Your customers must really appreciate that what you are demanding is for us to make huge, one dimensional wines that cater to two publishing powerhouses… and then double our prices so we can toss you a kick-back or cut the price to trick the customer into thinking they’re getting a deal.

We know with 1,000s of us in California alone and your predatory practices that limit the number of distributors per state, we promise to remain good little obedient suppliers, beg for your attention and be so grateful you bother with us at all. When a prominent retailer in New York said, “Do you know how you open the door when you come to see me? … with your ass because your hands are full of presents for me.” I just smiled and nodded.

Given you don’t actually produce/create anything yourself… I find it ironic you push back against all the opportunities you have to bring value to the supply chain. As you obviously have no desire take part in the selling process and have no respect for your customers, I will continue my efforts to communicate with them directly. Currently, even despite the economic challenges, direct sales are growing at 11.6% and drastically outstripping the average industry numbers. The average price per bottle through this channel is $36.64.

Ever notice what happens when a supplier gains a bit of prominence and doesn’t need to grovel anymore? Have you ever had a supplier that _could_ sell directly to consumer come to you and indicate they think their customers are best served by the services you can provide?

I didn’t think so.


Samantha Dugan November 8, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Look at Tom getting all feisty


Lauren Ackerman November 10, 2011 at 5:42 pm

No worries from us — we just go direct so we can bypass all of you distributor sales reps altogether. I’ll never forget when a rep from a large distributor told me at a wine tasting when we were first starting out, “when you decide to become a real winery, call me.” I never will. Although we are small, the bulk of suppliers like us out there (5,000 cases and under) do care where our products go and how they are sold. Going direct to consumer AND trade is our mantra and with all the latest innovations in technology, it’s easier to do so. Oh, and consumers are waking up to the fact that they can buy direct, too, and prefer to deal with the winery directly because of the relationship that is formed. I prefer to give them a discount when buying from us directly over any sales rep who doesn’t even care who we are and how hard we worked to put out a great product.

It is only a matter of time….


winerep November 10, 2011 at 9:12 pm

a reminder to all that the REPublic posts are reader submissions and don’t necessarily reflect my own humble opinions… my domestic portfolio is made up mostly of the “little guys”, sub-5000 case production, and that’s what I prefer to sell…


alazscar January 11, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Wow, what a great explanation of why it’s so much more fun to develop your own customer base and sell everything that you can produce from your own location.

I like the following:
Your customers must really appreciate that what you are demanding is for us to make huge, one dimensional wines that cater to two publishing powerhouses… and then double our prices so we can toss you a kick-back or cut the price to trick the customer into thinking they’re getting a deal.
1: No one cares about medals… from anywhere. I don’t care if your chardonnay got the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism. No one cares.

3,000 cases at 100% of retail is like 25,000 cases at 20%-30% of retail because my cost of goods is the same in both cases.


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