Stop Before You Start

Julie Pedroncelli St. John from Pedroncelli Winery sent me a great article by Barry Stuckey who has spent much of his career in Hospitality. The article was about a waitress he encountered in an eatery at Heathrow Airport. I have pulled out some of the key points, as the article was too long for this blog. The article really encapsulated a lot of the finer point of excellent service, whether you work in a retail business or are selling B2B.

The first point, which to me is the most important, is to be conscious of what you are doing before you begin speaking to a customer. Before you approach the customer or pick up the phone to call them, STOP… Clear your mind of what you have been working on or thinking about and focus your attention on the person to whom you are speaking. As you are approaching the customer or waiting for them to answer the phone, put yourself into listening mode (you are probably already in talking mode). Once you have approached the customer smile, and tell them your name. You should also be smiling if you are on the phone, people can tell.

This small act of separation from what you were doing, or from the last customer allows you to move on to a new customer. Your focus on them will transmit itself to the customer. You will appear engaged and ready to help them. The customer will also become engaged as they realize that your attention is directed to them. Because you are more engaged you will be more apt to listen and really hear what your customer is saying. You will also be more likely to pick up non-verbal signals such as their tone of voice or the fact that their stance shows you they are or are not interested.

When a customer asks you a question, smile in response and, before you speak, lean in just slightly. This creates an impression that you care what your customer is saying.

These are small things that will make big differences to the comfort of your customers and to their connection with you, the business and the products.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Keys To Creating Long Term & Loyal Customers

e_T4Q6892 low-res -c bw sI have been doing some work lately with a company that provides the people and set up for sampling in supermarkets.  Their job is to present the product, encourage people to taste the product, and sell the product. Very similar to consumer engagement in tasting rooms, though the people who are set up in supermarket aisles have a lot less time to interact with the people who may be interested in the product.

Regardless of the retail business you are in, the keys to creating a long term and loyal customer are the same. The four fundamental challenges for retail staff are to:




Create Value.

Today’s blog deals with the first two points, Engagement and Communication.

Engagement is a means of forming connection with visitors and customers. The first steps in engaging should be getting to know the people you are presenting your products to and understanding their challenges in order to convince them of how your products will make their lives easier and better.

Remember that their time is valuable so the experience needs to focus on their wants and needs. It is much easier to sell a product to a consumer who is convinced that

It will improve their lives. Another consideration is that these days consumers are overwhelmed with choices, making it much more difficult for them to make buying decisions, so start by asking a few questions. You can help them whittle down their choices until you are the best option.

Communication leads me back to one of my favorite quotes from George Bernard Shaw, who said, “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  It’s easy to spout facts, but real communication is a dialogue between people. For each piece of information you tell people about your product ask them a question about their life and listen carefully to the answers. This will give you what you need to present the products you will best suit their needs, wants and expectations.

Next week we will talk about Differentiation and Value.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Progressive Engagement

Engaging visitors in the winery or any other retail business is a sequence that goes through various stages, with the result that visitors feel comfortable and welcome.

Engagement takes you and your visitors through a series of steps that allow you to

Connect • Inform • Entertain • Share the whole experience with your visitors.


Make that immediate and visceral connection with visitors as they walk through the door. Find a way to acknowledge them immediately, always with eye contact and a smile. If possible, interact verbally. If you are unable to speak to them as you are engaged with other visitors, eye contact and a nod or wave.


This part is very important: not only do you inform them about your products, but you allow them to inform you about their wants, needs and desires. Once they have done that, you will have the tools you need to present your products in ways that they will appreciate. Be sure your information contains ways that differentiate your products from those of other businesses.


If you can, entertain your visitors, making them laugh, which helps people open up and therefore more easily internalize the information. Or give them factoids they were not aware of, that they can then tell others. You will create reasons for them to remember your brand and to talk about it to their friends and family.


Share information with them in ways that make them feel as if they are getting something special. Tell a story about the winemaker or how the grapes were grown.

Sharing is a great way to sell, as it draws visitors into the stories about your products.

If you engage your visitors with sincerity and a desire to be interesting and entertaining, the visitors will leave felling passionate about your product. They will wonder how they ever lived without your product and take memories with them when they leave. They will feel pride in the product they have purchased and feel confident that your product is a name they can trust. They will also buy it again.

Go through these steps every time the visitor (now a customer) comes to the winery, to continue to enhance the connection and solidify the engagement.

A tip of the glass from me to you!