Creating Connected Customers

It’s interesting that businesses want customers to be more connected with them, though many businesses are afraid to give the customers what they want, which is connection with the people in the business.

Customer connection is a big part of the wine industry in general, and particularly true for customers who belong to wine clubs especially when the winery is a “small, family-owned winery.” Though even with wine clubs in corporate wineries, the members are still looking for connection.

There are many reasons why people may choose to join wine clubs… yes they like the wine, yes they enjoy the events, and yes they like to bring their friends and be able to taste for free. All these things are definite perks. Though there are two defining reasons: Connection and Access.

The majority, though not all, look for connection with the winery owners, the winemaker, and the staff. They like being recognized when they walk into the tasting room and the staff person knows their name. For those of you who are old enough, think about the TV show Cheers. Having those connections allows them to tell their friends:

“I was just at Bahoula Winery, talking to the winemaker, Susan, do you know her? Lovely person and she said…”

There is a great deal of pleasure to be had by being one up on your friends.

The other reason people like to be a “special” customer at a winery, like one who is in the wine club, is access. They have access to events, to the wine clubroom, if there is one and to other parts of the winery that regular customers may not see.

They also get access to more information about the wines and the option to buy older wines, newer wines before the general release and large format, limited release bottles.  There are a lot of perks to being part of the wine club if wineries understand what it is that their customers are looking for.

Although these perks should not only be for wine club members. They should also be for those people who, while they may not belong to your wine club, spend a lot of money with you or bring others to your winery who spend money.

Make sure that your best customers have access to you and feel connected. Drop them a personal email once in a while to ask them what they thought of a wine they just received from you. Or have pictures of your best customers on their customer record so you recognize them and call them by name. You never know you might make some new friends.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Elizabeth Slater

Customer Engagement & Sales Training

707.953.1289, E@inshortmarketing.com

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Overcoming Objections to the Price of Your Products, Part Two

As I mentioned last week, I downloaded an informational guide with information on overcoming sales objections from Resourceful Selling. This week is part two in the review of the information.

First:  Let’s look at things that can go wrong.

Sometimes the salesperson, if uncomfortable with the price, can transmit that feeling to the customer, perhaps not in words but by how the information is presented. It’s a must that the salesperson is comfortable with the price. If not, they may need more training in sales in general and in your products in particular.

Many winery tasting room salespeople get into the business because they like wine, not because they like to sell. And, as many owners also don’t like to sell (they prefer to create), there is not the emphasis on sales that there should be. Make sales and customer engagement high on the list of the experience you are looking for when interviewing potential salespeople. Or if you are the salesperson, make sure you are applying for jobs for the right reasons and jobs that fit what you want to do with your life.

As a salesperson, are you ready to defend (in a non-combative or judgmental way) the prices that are being asked for the product you sell? Do they think the wine is worth the price?

Price, like any other objection to the sale, is a problem-solving process. If the customer is not ready to pay the price the winery is selling it for, why not?  Find out the reason and you can usually turn the customer around. Sell on the quality or the fact the customer can use this to impress their friends. You can also bring up the idea that if someone wants to pay a lesser price, s/he can always buy a case or half case and receive a special quantity price.

Remember that customers are looking for:

  • What is in it for them – How they benefit from the purchase.
  • It is benefits rather than features that make the sale (buying is done through the emotional part of the brain.)
  • What is the perceived value in relation to price.
  • Value is in the mind of the purchaser rather than the product.
  • If, as a salesperson, you believe that price may be an obstacle, bring it up before the customer does: “You can always find less expensive wine, but nothing at this quality for the price.”
  • Add value to every sale, even when the customer is not objecting. It will bring them back to see you again.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Elizabeth Slater

Customer Engagement & Sales Training

707.953.1289, E@inshortmarketing.com

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Overcoming Objections to the Price of Your Products (Part One)

I downloaded a handy informational guide of overcoming sales objections from Resourceful Selling, which I am going to share you over the next couple of blogs.

The information starts with a headline:

“The price objection is the quickest way for a prospect to get rid of a salesperson.

But a price objection shouldn’t mark the end of a discussion.”

Good advice. I have seen too many salespeople give up when a potential customer says that the price is too expensive. But giving up should not be your first option.

First, find out what may be behind the customer telling you that the price is too high or that it is more than they usually pay.

  • You may not have asked enough questions about what the customer is looking for.
  • It may be that you haven’t communicated the value of your product in a way that makes sense to your customer.
  • The customer may not have been fully made aware of the differentiation of your products or service from that of your competitors.
  • The customer may be fishing to see if you are willing to go down on the price, but will buy it anyway if you don’t.

For any of these reasons, the price may become a serious factor in whether the customer buys or not. So your job is to identify the reason for buying your customer will be most susceptible to. In this article I was reading, they quoted a study by Alpha Marketing who ranked the reasons why customers choose to buy:

  1. Credibility
  2. Quality
  3. Company reputation
  4. Level of service
  5. Reliability of salesperson
  6. Responsiveness
  7. Ability to meet deadlines (which may not apply to you)
  8. Price

As you can see, the price is not the first thing on people’s minds. Yes, it is a factor but I believe with the right information, good customer service and a genuine interest in what is best for the customer, the price objection may be easily overcome.

Next week – ways to overcome price objections.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Elizabeth Slater

Customer Engagement & Sales Training

707.953.1289, E@inshortmarketing.com

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This week, WHAT, HOW, WHO, and WHY are we NOT Selling?

Last week we looked at what to do and this week we are looking at the opposite side of the What, How, Who and Why of selling, which is:

  1. What are you not offering
  2. How are you not offering it (is our presentation unique)?
  3. To whom are you not selling?
  4. Why are you not doing this?

What are you not offering?

Most people (owners, managers, and staff) have ideas of what they want to do in the business they either own or work in. Many times these ideas have a lot to do with their own interests or motivations, which while reasonable is not necessarily going to get the job done. Because of this, you may not be offering customers the information that will close the sale.

How are you not offering it?

You are not offering the information the customers’ want when you haven’t discovered what it is the customer is looking for. If, for example, I like red wines, fifteen minutes of information on how you grow your Chardonnay grapes and how you make your award-winning Chardonnay is going to cut no ice with me at all. That time could have been much more profitably spent talking about your red wines. Also, many times crucial information is not offered until late in the visit. If it is something that will benefit the customer (such as special case prices or wine club info), let the customer know early in the visit so they have time to weigh the pros and cons and make a decision.

To whom are you not selling it?

Are you judging visitors when they come into your business? If you say no, you are probably wrong. We all judge, it’s part of being human. It is part of what keeps us out of danger. It helps to be wary. It also helps to understand that you have no idea how much someone may buy based on the car they drive, the clothes they wear or how much they know about your product. Many times someone may not buy because you haven’t taken the time to discover his/her likes, dislikes and purchasing triggers.

Why are you not doing this?

Remember that purchases are made through engaging the emotions rather than in the intellectual part of the brain. Buying is a process that is strictly emotional. Instead of facts, inspire your customers. What and How educate your visitors, the WHY inspires them to buy and become long-term customers.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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It’s Prime Selling Time!

As we are in the midst of the summer visitor season at present, this week’s blog has some reminders about the importance of selling in the tasting room, at events, and anywhere else it seems appropriate.

It is always good to remember that customers make buying decisions through the emotional rather than the intellectual part of their brains. Most of us like to think that our buying decisions are made based on facts and formulated through our intellect but it is just not true. We buy because we feel. We like to believe it is intellectual because it’s easier to describe intellectual feelings than it is emotional ones.

To get your visitors and customers in the right frame of mind, you need to do three things:

  • Engage Your Customers: Let them know that you are interested in them and not just in how much they are willing to buy.
  • Ask Questions: Ask about their wine drinking habits, which types of wines they like and discover if wine is a big part of their lives.
  • Promote the Buy: Discover why your visitors or customers buy wine. Do they use it when they entertain? Is having a glass of wine something they do each night when they get home or with dinner? Are they interested in learning more about wine?

When you know these things, you can focus your sales pitch on what will appeal to them.

Your successful sales presentation will be made up of a number of different parts and should include:

  • Dialogue rather than a monologue, both the customer and you should share a conversation.
  • Enthusiasm for your customers, your job, and passion for the products you are selling.
  • Messaging: Give the customers the information that they want, rather than the information that you want them to have.
  • Differentiation: Give the customers reasons to buy your wine; even people who don’t drink wine have friends or family who do.
  • Inclusion: Make your customers your friends, even if you believe you are only going to see them once in your lifetime.
  • Reasons to Buy: What is it that makes your wines special and different? What other opportunities will the purchase of your wines afford them and are there any rewards for purchase?

If you can make a friend, you can make a sale.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Dangerous Assumptions That Undermine Profits

I was recently asked to do an evaluation of a tasting room experience for a winery at which I had done some training. This meant I actually know the staff. Usually, I would not go myself, but find shoppers they didn’t know and send them. This time I thought I would try something a little different.

I took a look at my list of shoppers I had worked with before and decided upon some friends of mine who were just the type of customers that the winery was trying to reach. The reason my husband and I went along was because I wanted to see if anyone tried to sell to them. Or if, because the staff knew who I was and what I did, they would assume that the others were not going to buy.

Sadly, my thoughts that my shoppers would not get all the information they needed to make buying and joining decisions came true. The shoppers were told about the wines and given information about the vineyards. However, there was so much more that they were not told. As I was sitting at the table I was able to see for myself how the visit progressed.

I was pleased that the staff members were attentive and very nice to us. Unfortunately, there was no mention of the special events that the winery hosts (and they have some great ones) and no one mentioned the wine club (there was no wine club brochure on our table or any mention of the wine club on the tasting information).

This was a pity because my shoppers are a couple who like wine, join clubs, come to events and have the discretionary income to do all of that.  In fact, they are your perfect customers.

They were not asked their names or asked if they would like to be a part of the mailing list. Nor were they asked for any contact information. And even though we bought almost a case of wine, no one asked if we wanted to bump up to a case.

The tasting room staff did a good job making sure the guests had an enjoyable visit and I congratulate them for that. However, so much more could have been done to achieve the goals of the winery management and to take these wine lovers from one-time visitors to lifetime customers.

When people come into your winery, make no assumptions. Give them all the information they will need, rather than what you think they may need.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Selling Luxury

In the past couple of blogs, we have talked about the different categories that wines may fall into and the pricing for those categories. Last week I wrote about the four categories of Premium wines. This week the topic is the highest categories, Luxury wines. The three categories are: Luxury – $50-100; Super Luxury – $100-200; and Icon – $200 plus. The basic definition of these wines is that they are great quality, handmade, exceptional in taste, and expensive.

That is the beginning of luxury. If you want people to buy your luxury wines, it is not good enough that the wines are exceptional, it is the whole experience. Start with your website and follow through with the way guests are treated in person, on the phone, via email and at every point of contact by every person in your company. The look of the winery is also important to many visitors, everything needs to be clean, tidy and promote a feeling of luxury.

The guests and customers who buy these wines do so for a lot of different reasons, but much of it has to do with connection and the feeling that they are making a significant purchase that will enhance their lives and possibly their reputation as connoisseurs of wine. The interactions need to be memorable and out of the ordinary.

Some of these customers are looking for wines that may be traditional, with the luxury of the brand easily identifiable in the story of the wine, the winery, the owners, and the winemaker. Others are willing to spend top dollar on wines that are innovative and present new ideas of how quality is perceived. It could be that some of your customers are looking for wines that will signal their sophistication or have relevance to their lives.

We also have to remember that luxury products, especially wines, are not things that buyers actually need (no matter what we would like to think), they are the products that they want. When we are selling wine, we are selling to customers wants because the wine will do something to make their life or view of themselves better in some way. And to get that feeling they are willing to pay for luxury.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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