Decanting wine basic information

One of the most challenging things in sales is selling what you dislike. 

As someone who works in the wine industry, this can be particularly challenging because we deal with taste, which is subjective.  Often salespeople assume that if they dislike something, others will disapprove of it too. They also don’t want to recommend something that they wouldn’t use themselves, but that’s unfair to the product and potential customers. The examples here relate to selling wine, but the principles are the same, regardless of what you represent. 

So, how do you sell what you dislike? For starters, get psyched up. 


Get your game face on.

Just as athletes or performers get mentally psyched up before a game or a performance, we salespeople need to do the same. One would assume that athletes or performers believe in what they are selling (themselves), so there is a difference compared with salespeople. In sales, we sometimes must represent something we dislike, which doesn’t apply to athletes or performers.  

When selling what you dislike, it is even more critical to get psyched up because it is harder to project positivity when selling what you dislike. After all, selling something you love doesn’t require much effort. 

 I highly recommend this approach for anyone, whether you are a brand ambassador, salesperson, server, bartender, or in any position where you are dealing with the public and have to sell or convince people of something.

Do you believe?

Customers can pick up if you don’t believe in something or have reservations about what you are selling.  

When teaching selling skills, the example I always use is something anyone can relate to, whether they are religious or not: a pastor. If there were ever a time, people need to be “sold” or “believe” in something to follow; it is regarding their faith. Do you think a pastor would attract and retain followers if they sensed the pastor did not believe in what he was preaching?

 What separates great salespeople from mediocre ones is getting behind something regardless of how much you like or dislike it and sell it. 

You may be asking, “Why would you sell something you dislike?” There are many reasons why you have to sell or promote something you dislike. The company I run is a promotional agency, and our job is to promote wines to improve brand awareness and sales. While I love almost all wine, one style I dislike is buttery and oaky chardonnay. Because we cannot choose what we represent (our customers determine this), I have to do my best to sell products, regardless of whether I like them. 

No, you aren’t lying to people.

 It’s not uncommon for people to feel dishonest, promoting something they dislike. Whether or not you like something should not matter, because someone else may like something you dislike, and vice versa. Do you expect that just because you aren’t a fan of something, everyone else will feel the same? Is a product inferior simply because you disagree with it? 

 If you focus on the facts about the product, then you are not lying or misrepresenting it. Ask yourself what the positive points are about the wine. Does the wine have a high rating, or has it won any awards, or is it a best-selling wine?  You can talk up the flavor profile, the food pairings, or maybe the wine is versatile and appeals to a broad audience.

 The complaint I sometimes hear from salespeople is that it’s harder to sell something when you dislike it. Well, duh, that’s obvious, but what are we here for then? As salespeople, it’s our job to sell. Are we expected only to sell what we love, or what is easy to sell? Being able to sell what is more challenging to sell separates the great salespeople from the mediocre ones. 

 Besides, who says you have to like it? When you focus on selling what you love, you are making it about you and not the customer. 

Don’t focus on the negative.

 How many times have you been on the job and focused on what you dislike about the wine, whether you felt the price is too high, or the clientele won’t like a particular wine, or there is too much competition, or whatever the reason might be? Focusing on what you dislike about a specific wine is self-defeating. By focusing on what you hate, you are starting from a negative position, and you will never be successful that way. So, in short, don’t defeat yourself before you have even started. 

Make a game out of it.

 Whenever I am in a situation where I have to sell something I am not a fan of, I challenge myself to see how I perform. Set a goal; make a competition out of it and see how you fare. 

It comes down to this: You can defeat yourself from the start or have fun with it and create a challenge for yourself.  

Happy selling,

Curt Sassak

Meet the author.

Curt Sassak is the president of Winetasters Choice, a promotional agency based in Texas and serving seven states. Curt is a 35-year veteran of the food and beverage industry, with the first 27 years of his career spent as a chef.

Curt Sassak

Picture of our president

Stay Informed

Stay Informed

Join our mailing list to get the latest news and updates from our team.We promise not to overflow your inbox and we never share your information.

You have Successfully Subscribed!