Château Pétrus, Professional Selling, and Social Media

Do you drink Château Pétrus? I don’t either, but I wish I did. At $300 a bottle for a poor vintage (and $3200 for the 1948), it’s out of my price range. But I can say that I sold it. After a semester studying wine and food in France, my first professional job was selling wine at Haskell’s. Back then we tasted wine, made notes, and combed wine journals and books to build our professional knowledge. We kept our client lists in little notebooks and vintage charts on the back of our business cards. I tell my students that I was a professional drinker–it always grabs their attention–when in truth I was taster and professional seller, or wine merchant.

Today’s selling tools do the same work as my trusty notebook and Decanter subscription, but they sure look different…

In 2009 Forester Research published the fact that 91% of IT buyers used social media. Two years later, I don’t know any professional sales person that doesn’t compute in a mobile environment with a smart phone and an iPad, research prospects via social media, or in the words of Jonathan Farrington in Social Selling: A Professional Sales Trend, court prospects instead of cold-calling.

Now that I’m on the buying end of wine, I apply these selling principles in reverse. I only buy wine from companies I trust, like Haskell’s or Wine Street Spirits because I know they store their wine well and I trust their advice. I do my research, too–I might see great deals on white Burgundies from the early 90s, but I know they are too old to drink and I’ll be disappointed. And I follow my favorites on Twitter and Facebook. Afraid of a screw top? Not me. I know they’re fine for wines I plan to drink soon vs. age. In other words, I’m a smart buyer. I come to stores prepared–I know that the current sale price of a 12-pack of Summit is $11.99 and that if I’m lucky I can pick up a bottle of a French sparkling rosé for under $15.

Sales tools and buyers are different thanks in part to technology, access and transparency of information, and the electrification of relationships.

How has your buying and selling changed because of social media? How do you use LinkedIn and Twitter to prospect?

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