If You Have To Assume… Make Positive Assumptions

“Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesperson – not the attitude of the prospect.”- W. Clement Stone

I am not sure that there is anything more frustrating than entering a business of any kind wanting to buy products and realizing that the salesperson has already decided that you are not a viable customer.

This happens more often than we might think. Many salespeople judge prospective customers as buyers or non-buyers on any number of factors that are not reliable gauges.

Here are some questions for you? As a salesperson, what is your attitude towards your guests? 

  • Do you judge guests as buyers or non-buyers when they walk in the door?
  • Does your attitude to the guests change based on your assumption that they will or will not purchase?
  • If you answered “no”… are you sure?

Most of us judge people automatically. We have made assumptions more than once in our lives. At one time or another, we have been proved wrong and had to revise our ideas or points of view.

Making assumptions about whether your guests will buy or not when they visit your winery cannot only prove you wrong; it can also cost you and your employer money. If commissions are part of your overall earning and you want to make an assumption about your guests, assume that they are going to buy.

When someone you have never met walks into your winery, you don’t have the information you need to decide the likelihood of their buying or not, regardless of how they are dressed or how they sound. Even when you have asked them a couple of questions, such as:

  • Have they been wine tasting before?
  • Do they regularly drink wine?

If they answer no to both questions, it is still difficult to know whether or not they will buy. While they may not drink wine themselves, they may have twin daughters who are getting married at the same time and have invited 300 people to the wedding. All of the wedding guests are wine drinkers (or certainly could be if someone else was paying for the wine).

If you have to make assumptions, make positive ones. Assume your guests are going to buy and treat them well. If you do, they are much more likely to buy.

A tip of the glass from me to you!


The Most Important Elements of Sales

In many wineries, sales training is sketchy at best, so this week’s blog covers some of the basics of sales training that are more often than not overlooked.

1.  If we want to sell, we should listen more than we talk.

Some sales trainers say customers should do 80% of the talking and some say 60%.

This leaves either 20% or 40% of the talking to the salesperson.

Stick within either of these percentages to allow ample time for customers to say what they want or need to say.

2.         Customers may already know a great deal about your business.

There are many ways for consumers to amass both good and bad information about your company. Before employees launch into a pitch for the business, they should discover what the guests already know. That way sales personnel can affirm or correct the perceptions.

4.         First ask questions then provide information

If you don’t know what the potential customer wants, it is difficult to provide the reasons to buy that s/he needs. It is a waste of both the guests’ and the salesperson ’s time to present information that is not wanted or needed.      Additionally, the salesperson builds a relationship when s/he take a few minutes to discover the needs of the customer.

5.         Discover the wants and needs of the customer

The salesperson can save time and be more helpful if they do a little digging into what the customer is looking for before making any suggestions. Discover:

  • The reason the guests chose to visit
  • What do they expect from the product they are buying?
  • Their priorities
  • Best product possible?
  • Price range?
  • Additional benefits?
  • How customers make decisions: Do they quickly decide what they want? Is thorough research important to them? Have they been shopping for the product at other places?
  • If there is more than one person participating in the discussion: Who is the primary decision maker?

6.         Know your products

You now have enough information from the guest to know whether or not you can help them. This is the time to show them the products you have that will fit their wants, needs, and budget as well as their personality and self-image.

7.         Congratulate the customer(s) on her/his choice

Let them know that they have made an excellent decision and that they will be happy with their product.

Of course, there is a lot more to sales. However, starting with these simple techniques will increase sales and create long term, return customers. Happy selling!

A tip of the glass from me to you!

What Your Guests Want From You?

The title of this blog, “What Your Guests Want From You” is somewhat disingenuous. All businesses have many different types of customers, though in wineries there are even more variables. Coming through your doors you may have everyone, from people who have never been to a winery before and/or don’t drink wine, to those who study wine and know more about wine generally than you do.

When new people step through the door, you have no idea why they have decided to visit. Your job is to quickly discover what brought them in and what they expect to achieve. They could have walked in the door for any number of reasons that may or may not involve buying wines.

Before you start telling visitors about your business and products, find out about them.  Start by entering into a conversation that combines asking questions about their reasons for visiting and information on how you can meet their needs.

Here are some of the different types of guests you may encounter:

Newbies: Never been to a winery before. Don’t drink wine on a regular basis and don’t know anything about wine. Rather than this being a time to fill their heads with wine facts, discover:

  • What their lives are like
  • Why wine has never become a part of it
  • How can you change that.

It may be a lack of confidence and fear of choosing the wrong wine that is keeping them from drinking wine. Give them the information they need to be more confident.

All About The Money: These are people who may come in looking for a bargain. While you may think your wine is a bargain, the important thing is, what do they think? You need to know:

  • What a bargain means to them
  • When they have bought a wine that is outside of their price range and why.

Once you know what is keeping them in a particular price range, you can give them reasons to expand their ideas.

Aficionados: These people may want you to listen rather than talk. When you do talk, it may be to point out how your wines meet their criteria:

  • Medals
  • Reviews with high scores
  • Recommendations

Once you know what they like, congratulate them on their knowledge, the quality of the wines they drink or their choice of varietals. Make them feel good about their choices and put your wines into those categories.

Focused: These are the wine drinkers who know what they like and want to see if you have that type of wine. With them, ask about:

  • How wine is a part of their lives
  • Wines they regularly drink
  • How your wines compare.

With the knowledge you gain you are able to create the room for them to expand their tastes slightly into wines that you have that will fit into their focus.

Next week, more ideas.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Customer Differentiation

As human beings, we understand that in many ways we are all very much alike. We have the same basic needs for air, water, food, sunshine, etc. However, we like to think of ourselves as individuals, that we are unlike anyone else.  In a word – “unique.”

While many businesses small and large would prefer that people walk into their business, love the products, buy lots of them, stay connected and continue to buy for years to come… that’s not usually how it works. As customers, we are overloaded with different avenues through which we can buy products and one of the few things that makes one business stand out from another is service. How customers are treated when they choose to do business with us is the important thing to them.

Treating each guest or customer who shows an interest in your products or business as an individual, with distinct differences from others, is the best way to create more long-term customers and increase their dependency on your products.

The level of interaction that customers wish to have with your products or business varies by the type of product you have. If you do not wish to have lots of personal interaction with customers, stick to products that are more utilitarian. For example, if I buy a different dishwashing soap and I don’t particularly don’t like it, I will still probably use it until it is gone and it won’t affect my life too much.

However, if I am having an important dinner party and I buy a wine that does not suit the food I have prepared or I find the wine is corked, the negative consequences may be more pronounced.

Think about the people who buy wine from you the way you think about your wines. If you think your wines are special, remember that your customers are too. It is a rare winery that doesn’t think that the wines they make are a cut above the rest. If you think about your customers the same way you will use the same care and attention when interacting with your customers as you do with your wines.

Next week, the blog will continue to talk about the different consumer categories and how to sell to them.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Small Investment… BIG RETURN

The Facts

Is going to be an interesting year for the wine sales in the United States. Reports are saying that wine production is increasing in the U.S. with more wineries opening every year and wine imports to the U.S. are increasing. A May 2018 report from the Wine Institute noted that wine available for sale in the U.S. from all U.S. production sources and wine imported to the U.S. by foreign producers — grew 1% to 403.4 million cases in 2017.

As of 2018, there are 9,654 bonded wineries in the United States. This number does not include the virtual wineries without a brick and mortar winery. These producers make their wine at host facilities (i.e. custom crush facilities) and sell through mailing lists, retail stores, email, and over the phone.

It is also expected that individual wineries will see fewer people as wine consumption slows in the Boomers and Matures’ generations while, at present, Millennials and Gen Xers consume more liquor and beer than they do wine. It is expected that Millennials will be the largest group of fine wine by 2026 (only 7 years to go).

What does this mean to you as a winery? 

It means that the majority of wineries have put more effort into selling wine to the guests and customers who take the time to come to the winery or have signed up for the email list.

The Problems

1. In many wineries I visit, I find that people who are supposedly selling wine were hired because they know a lot about wine and want to have a spotlight to talk about what they know. Owners and/or winemakers, who started a winery or make wine, also got into the business because of their love of wine.

Unfortunately, knowing a lot about wine, is not a great recommendation for a hospitality/sales person. While it is important to know about the wine you are selling; it is more important to know about the people to whom you are selling.

2. Guests are overloaded with jargon that they may not understand and probably won’t remember by the time they have made a left-turn out of your driveway.

The Result

Guests leave your winery without buying any wine and without a story to tell their friends about your wine. I doubt that this is what you want.

The Solutions

The solution to the problem is two-pronged:

  1. Change your hiring practices, so you are hiring employees who like people even more than they like wine.
  2. Training your hospitality staff is a small investment with a Big Return.

I guarantee that a staff well trained in customer service and sales will sell more wine and create a loyal following for your brand.

If you want more information on training your staff, drop me an email: E@inshortdtc.com

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Thanksgiving – A Plethora of Emails

I received what seemed like a boatload of emails from wineries over the Thanksgiving and shopping extravaganza long weekend. Some wineries sent me up to five emails in a three or four-day period. Most were touting special pricing on their wines and/or low priced or free shipping.

Offers included:

  •  20% saving with $10 ground shipping
  • Free shipping plus the standard 10% case discount when $150.00 was spent
  • $10 flat rate shipping for gift sets (up to 12 bottles)
  • 5% off on all wines
  • 20% off all wines plus free shipping on 6+ bottles (Black Friday & Cyber Monday)
  • Save $10 on $40 (spent) online
  •  15% off, shipping included on 3+ bottles
  •  1¢shipping on $50 or more plus $10 off on $99 or more.

I also received Cyber Monday prices and Cyber Monday extensions, with the special pricing running through Tuesday.

One California winery did something different: on Black Friday they donated all tasting fees and $5 from each online purchase going to support victims of the Camp Fire (Paradise).

I understand that the Thanksgiving weekend (all the way through Cyber Monday and sometimes Tuesday) is about shopping. More money is spent during these four days (Friday through Monday)than at any other time of the year. So perhaps creating special pricing and/or free shipping options pays dividends. Though if you want your wine to be taken seriously discounting regularly is not the way to promote the quality or overall value. Value is not based solely on price. It is also based on the quality of the product, your reputation in the industry and what bragging rights go along with the purchase.

While it is not surprising that some people buy because of the price. It is not only the price that keeps them buying from you. You still have to have a quality product that fits their lifestyle.

Focus your emails on your customers and what is important to them, rather than what is important to you. 

Next week we will talk more about selling through emails and what information is needed to make it successful.

A tip of the glass from me to you!