Before I begin my recall on paper for all to read, allow me to note, that since I have become a wine salesman, I can say confidently that I would be a much more respectful and resourceful buyer with the knowledge I have acquired over the past decade of “real” sales. Seeing buyers organize, or lack thereof, communicate, or lack thereof, listen, or lack thereof, and focus on sales more than purchasing, or lack thereof has really opened my eyes to my past shortcomings and highlighted some of my strengths.
Here I go…
As a restaurant wine buyer, I wanted to taste everything I could to get my palate tuned into what is directly available to me from each of my reps and also get to know their palates and what they are capable of teaching me. I discovered that I was considered a “wine geek” and to my benefit, the distributors wanted to send in reps with some wine knowledge, which was excellent for me, I had much to learn.
My early reps were Albano, Roy Shelef, Bruce Meyers, Lon Connery, John Marasco, Paul Antinelli and Paul Mann. There are all legends now and taught me very much which I am appreciative to this day. I later landed in Birmingham and got the sales rep swarm every Monday and had a real cast of characters. Joe Bruno, Rick Lopus, Charlyn Carrier, David Amin-Parcells, Ken Abraham, Lori Levan, Jennifer Greychek, Jeff Bianca, Kim Mical, Joe Stetson, Joe Newmeyer, and the list goes on. I stayed fairly loyal to my originals although great wine was always grabbed me. As a buyer, I loved the wine first then figured out how I was going to sell it.
My sales tools: my personality, educating my staff, and a beautiful restaurant with excellent glassware. I had something then which I do not have now to assist me in my sales efforts. Every time I spoke to someone about selling them wine they were sitting down at a table (I was standing over them in a service environment) they were ready to spend money and had a dollar amount in mind and they made the choice to visit our restaurant to buy. Boy do I miss that advantage!
Selling was easy in a dining room with great food, service and glassware. I bought anything I wanted and eventually became known as eccentric. It led to buying less from big companies and more from small interesting portfolios. I later followed importers closer then distributors realizing it was their hard work and travel bringing great wines to Michigan. I also learned that once I got respect and trust from the guests over time they allowed me to choose their wine.
I miss the wine list and the dining room and as well as the trust and creative freedom I received from the wine consumer. I understand when Buyers urge me to listen and understand what they believe their guests want from them and how they, in order to make a living in Michigan, have to serve so much California Cabernet and Chardonnay. Honestly I sometimes blame myself for those of you who sold me wine back then you may remember, I loved new world wine and had a large selection of Cabernet and Chardonnay. It is interesting to recall my enormous selection of California yet I was considered eccentric. That must make me totally nuts today.
I am on my way to Napa August 15, 2014, cheers!
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