“If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.” W. L. Bateman
And nowhere is this quote truer than in the wine industry, although there are many different types of retailers jostling for second place. The majority of the wineries that I visit around North America are still firmly rooted in the belief that the way to sell wine is by talking about it non-stop. Overwhelming visitors with facts, which they may or may not be interested in, and not finding out anything about the visitors themselves is not going to help you to sell wine, in most cases.
Yes, you do get the occasional wine aficionado in your winery, the one who really does know a lot about wine and wants to know more. These are the people that you can give as much information as you want to. But there are many others who visit wineries. They want to know a couple of facts they can use to impress their friends when they get home, though by and large they really want a two way conversation, they ask you questions, you ask them questions. They listen to your answers and you listen to theirs.
What leads winery folk to talk almost exclusively about wine is passion. Their passion about wine leads them to keep talking about the wine, even when the visitors have become glassy-eyed and they are looking for an opportunity to escape.
If wineries ever want to be really successful at sales, they have to make sure the staff is asking questions and talking about things that interest the visitors – mainly talking about the visitors themselves. Find out about their hobbies, likes and dislikes. Once you know something about them you can talk about wine in ways that relate to them, rather than talking about wine in ways that it’s important to you.
I understand that when you are really busy, all bets are off. So practice asking questions and being more customer-centric, than wine-centric when things are quieter and then you can use a few of those engagement techniques when things are busier.
A tip of the glass from me to you!