Open Cattle Call, day 2: another dreaded workwith… from supplier

November 22, 2011 · 13 comments

Dear My Work With,

Good morning, Work With, thank you for calling me at 10am as we were supposed to meet at 9am for a coffee and talk about the day ahead. No, I’m not the winemaker. It would be ideal if we could have the winemaker travel year round. Yes, I’m just some soulless marketing guy immune to any slights. I understand that you planned this work with months in advance and all of your “A” accounts were confirmed. I can’t believe the entire morning canceled at the last minute either. It would be my pleasure to have you pick me up at my hotel around 11:30am.

Certainly we can just go to your favorite lunch account that was not on the schedule and even though the wine buyer is out of town, I would be thrilled if the hostess of two weeks that the wine buyer is banging will taste my old world style wine. Oh, she thinks it’s too “dry.” Most table wines are “dry.” Her comment is duly noted and we will consider more residual sugar next vintage per her keen palate.

We need to hustle out? I don’t like idle small talk either at the lunch table with a “Work With” I’ve never met before who despises me for ruining her Wednesday. And trust me, I love selling $60 wine to Shully’s Liquor Mart. He has such a discerning palate. You can’t expect Old Shully to differentiate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir from Australian Shiraz. Regardless, it was a good stab in the dark on his part. However, he can’t stop talking about Australian Shiraz. Oh, he’s insisting that Shiraz is not Syrah? Not a battle I want to fight as he was very nice to fit us in on such short notice as our schedule went to hell on us! Oh, my wines are too expensive for his shop? I know, Opus One sells through – that’s why they are locked in the special glass section with Don Julio, Grey Goose and the Cuban Cigars. I must admit, the Paper Maid tasting cup was a nice touch on his part. Funny that he asked for a rinse.

Oh, our 2 o’clock just moved us to three, but we have a 3:30? Okay, I can pour quickly. The accounts are 20 miles apart? Lets just leave the 3 o’clock appointment some pours in a glass so we can make it to the next account on time. Do you really think he will read this one sheet on the wines? I’ll leave the one sheet under each respective wine.

So, the 3:30 just pushed us back to 5? I am happy he called us when we were 7 minutes out from him. Since we have some time to kill this parking lot is absolutely perfect. Go ahead and place your orders for the week even though that is what your Friday office day is for. I’ll just sit here and send emails on my iPhone.

Bugger, no reception for me.

No need to apologize, I really enjoyed sitting in your front seat for over an hour doing nothing.

Wow, the 5 o’clock appointment really tasted those quickly. And he mentioned you set this appointment up last minute, however I was under the impression you scheduled this work with months ago? Yes, he must have confused us with another appointment. Too bad his list is 95% Italian right now, but I will keep my fingers crossed that we make the 5%. Oh, please do not feel bad that the day went to crap. You got your orders in.

There is one more account that would see us when our day was complete? And you need to pour them some $10 Rosé samples? I can pour my wines too?!?? Super. I know, $10 is a great price point to be in. As you very well know, California real estate is super cheap…. Especially along the coast.

Oh, this final account is really nice. Wow, you two are flirting a lot, I think he likes you. You have 2/3rds of his list? Good for you. How did you pull that off? Oh, you “pulled” him off. Oh, uh, awkward, maybe we should ease up on the Rosé. Geez, I’ love to grab a cocktail, but seeing as though we were unable to sell one bottle of wine I have to go back to my hotel and fight to keep my job. It was such a pleasure working with you and please let me know when you’re in California next!

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Tracey November 30, 2011 at 3:15 am

OMG!! That is hilarious and dead on! Having been on both sides of the business, a wholesale rep and a supplier rep, I could relate to both sides of it!

Thanks for the laugh!!


Isabel December 1, 2011 at 12:23 am

As a supplier you just described so many workwiths it’s not even funny.


Pat Allen December 1, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Had a lifetime of those ride withs and sooo happy to not ever have to do another one! Story is right on unfortunately!


Dess December 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm



Bryan December 1, 2011 at 3:05 pm

I find it interesting that this was written/published in the holiday season, however I do not deny the fact that certain aspects of the above happen year-round.
That being said, when managers schedule workwiths in OND, they should be shot. Dragged out into the street first, even. It’s crazy sauce without me having to set aside everything that’s working its way out of the pipeline to put together an effective day for those wines.
I also don’t have enough fingers to count the times I have been notified of a workwith 72 hours or less from the time it is supposed to happen. Again, managers – dragged out into the street, shot.
…and let’s not pretend that every workwith a salesperson has is for “$60 wine.” If your wine sucks, or wouldn’t fit in at my “A accounts,” I’m not taking you there. Maybe me telling you they cancelled is a nicer way of saying “I know my #$%&ing accounts and territory.” Oh, and my version of Shully’s Liquor Mart? They actually buy the crap!


JD December 1, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Hilarious. In my 15 years as a distributor, the above sums about more than 50% of my work-withs.

Bryan: If the distributor sold the wine they say they are going to sell each quarter, work-withs wouldn’t be necessary. Do you think the supplier actually wants to spend the money, or time away from their family, to spend the day driving around a foreign town with you? No.

Let me say that again, 99% of them would rather be home. The only reason they are in the market is due to the fact that the distributor is not properly doing their job.


winerep December 1, 2011 at 6:41 pm

OR the wine is not selling in a particular market for a particular reason. I’ve worked in a wine producing region in the past… and it was ridiculously provincial/locally-skewed. So high priced competing varieties from another region? Not going to sell. But no matter how many times I’d try to explain that to the sales manager, twice a year he insisted on working the market with me.


JD December 1, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Note, I meant to say 15 years as a supplier, not distributor.


Jason December 1, 2011 at 5:47 pm

I love documentaries, especially ones about my life.


Greg December 2, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Good stuff, and as a supplier been there. I have always maintained that Wine Reps in general love there job because there freedom is only interrupted by another company meeting, or a dreaded work with. Having a sales back round long before making wine I have a unique instinct when driving for the first time and spending the day with a complete stranger. I noticed however after all the small talk the only thing that brings the relationship to even ground is making sales. Most Wine producers are not sales people and because of that they waste what otherwise would be a productive day, especially during the holiday season. But placements make for peace, so I say take a class before the ride. It is true most producer would rather leave it to the distributor, but that’s as realistic as the Senate producing a budget.


Neil b December 2, 2011 at 8:19 pm

It’s the buyers, stupid! If they had a clue reps vendor reps would be history. I’ve never figured out why buyers have reps lined up daily. if they did their job, reps would be tying up their competitors day.


Jacob Manning December 3, 2011 at 2:30 am

Spot on! Hilarious. Been there, done that.


The Guy Who Wrote This Diatribe April 11, 2012 at 4:57 pm

I had no idea there were comments posted to this purely tongue and cheek rant I wrote. If anything, this was a cathartic rant on my part and was simply intended to be funny, not an indictment on anyone. The anecdotes were pulled together from multiple work-withs, but I must confess, there have been days that were eerily similar to my above “story.” But note, it’s a story, I don’t sell a $60 coastal Pinot Noir, I do work with an Old World Style wine and I think Bryan needs to “pull up on the stick,” relax and take this for face value – a total joke. Happy some of you enjoyed it!


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