My first job in the industry (aside from slinging coffees and working w a 5 wines wine list) was as a Rep for two different portfolios in Oregon. I was bright eyed and bushy tailed and it remains one of the hardest jobs I've had (and I've had a few really weird/ hard jobs). When I moved to New York, and got a job as a wine buyer, I promised myself that I would not be one of the buyers that I hated working for, so much. Alas, 3 months in, I have fired one rep, and have told 2 that they have crossed the line... so I'm wanting to open the conversation that I wish someone had had with me.... How do you navigate being a rep with different accounts? What do I really want in my reps? What seems obvious but probably isnt?
So... here we go!
First off, I love direct communication. I don't have time to waste, and neither do reps. SO, how I prefer the first interaction: come in, check out the shop, talk to the staff (in my opinion, a good buyer works off of what the rest of the staff can sell, not just what they like), and finally, either drop off your portfolio, or ask if you can set up a tasting schedule with the buyer.
Second, if I don't already have a set time appointment with you, I would much rather receive a text or email that says "hey, I've got some killer ____ in my bag, that I think is up your alley. I know we don't have an appointment, but do you have some time today?" This is awesome for me, it shows that the rep both understands my time, and wants to show me things they think I'd be excited about.
Third, and this is STUPID how many times I've had to EMPHASIZE this. If I tell you not to show up, DON'T SHOW UP. It comes across and disrespectful, and you just put me in a position to resent you for not listening to a very simple instruction.
And finally, If you're friends with some of the coworkers of the buyer, or the roommate, or the boss, you should never push your wine to them UNLESS the buyer says it's fine if you taste with them and then send them feedback.
All buyers are different, as are all reps. But, ask the questions : Do you prefer text or email? Would you prefer to have a set tasting schedule? Would you prefer to have me text you when I'm out tasting? Can I taste with your staff? Especially if your buyer is not an old white man, be sure that you're respecting their store.
If you have other opinions as buyers, write them down!