Making the Sale

Most of the wineries I know would like to increase their sales, though many of them are not sure how to go about it. Selling is not hard, it just takes some practice and an understanding of the basics.

Occasionally (very occasionally) someone comes in specifically to buy because they have seen something or the product has been recommended to them. Those people are not numerous enough to push through all your stock. You will have to take the rest of your customers through the four phases of the sale.

  1. Opening

Introduce yourself to the guests before beginning the interaction. Follow the introduction with a few questions about what brought the guests to the winery, the weather, how they like the area. Be sure to give the guests time to answer. This portion of the interaction should not last too long.

  1. Information Gathering

Before you give guests the tasting sheet or start pouring, discover some things that are important to the guests about wine. Ask what wines they drink at home, if they enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, etc. It is important to let them know that you are first interested in them, rather than what they will buy. Additionally, asking questions about why they chose to visit gives the server the information needed to direct the conversation and the experience.

  1. Sell Benefits

How does buying and drinking the wine benefit the guests? Show the guests how their lives will be better or more interesting by drinking your wine. Offer a solution to a problem (for example, they want a wine they can drink regularly). As you are doing this, ask the guests if they have any particular points of concern or questions they would like to ask.

  1. Close the Sale

Ask a few closing questions that will elicit yes answers based on information you already have elicited: “ You prefer white wines, is that correct?” “I believe you said you enjoy dry wines?” “When you were tasting you preferred the Frontenac.” Then summarize the benefits: “You will always be comfortable serving this wine to guests.” “We have a special price on the Chardonnay right now.” (Do not use the word discount – saying special price makes it more… well, special) “How many bottles would you like?”

Selling is simple if you focus on the guest. There are some buyers who want to know all the facts, but they are few and far between. Give guests information they can pass along to their friends about when they get home.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Engaging Customers

I have been doing research lately on how to genuinely charm and engage customers. For those of us who serve the public, being charming to our customers should be at the top of the list. Shown below are some of the ideas.

Interest in People:  During the time the customer is with you put them in the spotlight by showing an interest in what they are saying, why they came into your business, and what you can do to help them.

The first thing when dealing with a customer is to introduce yourself and ask for their names. By giving someone your name, you have shown a willingness to have a more personal relationship with these customers, even if it is only for twenty minutes. When people give you information, follow up with an open-ended question to find out more.

Authenticity:  It’s usually easy to tell when someone is not being authentic. If you have no interest in your customers they will recognize it on some level. Even if you are pretending that you do. If you love what you do it will come through to the customers. If you don’t love what you do, it may be a good idea to find something that you enjoy more.

Individual Experiences: Vary your interaction with each customer and focus on things that are most important to them. To achieve that, it’s vital that you start the engagement by finding out his/her wants and needs. You should be looking not only to make a customer but also to make a friend.

Body Language: Your body language is just as important as the words you speak. A smile makes a difference, especially if you smile at a customer s/he will usually smile back at you. That makes them feel good and should make you feel good too. Be open in your body language, arms should not be crossed and your hands should be open. Make eye contact with the person to whom you are speaking.

Belief in the Product: If you can speak with and exude confidence about the products or services that you sell, you are much more likely to make the sale. This does not necessarily mean overwhelming people with facts, but letting customers know the things that are most likely to interest and influence them.

All these things will lead to a better experience for your customers and a better experience for you.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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More on Sales

When people come into your business do they already know that they are or are not going to buy from you? The answer to that question is no, they don’t. How many times have you walked into a business with no intention of buying anything and bought anyway?

As a salesperson, your job is not to assume that someone is or is not going to buy. Though if you have to make an assumption, assume that the customers in front of you are going to buy. If you assume that your customers are not going to buy, did they then not buy because they weren’t ever going to buy or did they not buy because you treated them differently in some subtle ways that may not be picked up by the conscious mind but will be stored away by the subconscious? Also, the subconscious mind contains information that we are not actively aware of but may nonetheless influence decision-making.

Research has shown that customers will make instinctive decisions with their subconscious mind. As consumers, we are not aware of what’s in our subconscious. Although that we may still be influenced by things we have heard, seen or experienced before stored in the subconscious.

As humans, we prefer things that are familiar to us as well as simple to understand. Make it simple for your customers to understand your products and to make decisions to purchase.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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What Do Your Customers Want From You?

Knowing what your customers want is part and parcel of making your customers happy and ensuring that they will continue to buy from you. Here are some tips on how to engage your customers:

Use Their Names

Not only will customers remember you if you remember their names and use their names (a couple of times in the conversation), they are also more aware and interested when they hear their names. Try not to overuse the name. Sometimes when I have been on a phone call with a company and the employee has been told to use the customer’s name, they use it every second word, which is way too much and a little irritating.


A key way to make customers happy is to make each experience personal. A personalized experience not only makes customers happy, they are also willing to pay more for a personalized experience. Treat each set of customers as individuals with an individual experience.

Tell Stories

When we tell a story, customers can become a part of that story. Powerful messages about the company are left in their minds through the story. Keep your stories fairly short, so customers don’t lose interest.

Involve Your Customers

Ask customers for their ideas or present ideas you have and ask for their input. If you implement a customer’s idea, make sure they are rewarded for their input.

Surprise Customers

An unexpected treat or gift (no matter how small) will please your customers and will get them talking to their friends about how great the company is.

Time & Memories

Many customers value time well spent and the memories that are created much more than they do discounts. Though in most businesses there is more talk about pricing than there is about what the product will mean to the customer. Start focusing more on the memories that they can make with your products.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Identify Personality Types to Increase Sales

I came across an interesting article by Mikita Mikado the co-founder and CEO of PandaDoc on the ways people think and how you can get them to buy by paying attention to their actions to discern the way they think. Mr. Mikado suggests that one method to understand what motivates buyers is to apply a personality model and sites the DISC model (Dominant, Inspiring, Supportive or Cautious). He goes on to summarize each personality type and useful approaches when selling to different types of customers.


Confident and assertive people who know what they want. These people make statements instead of asking questions. The dominant people focus on the bottom line and are motivated by control and achievement. Ask them questions about what they think or how they would solve something. With products and facts show them why your product works for them. Demonstrate how it will help their life and give them more control.


These are people who will listen to what you have to say. They are interested and want to get to know you by asking questions that relate to your personally. These people are early adopters so if you have a new wrinkle on an old idea, point it out as they value what’s different. Sell them on what makes you unique or different. They want to try new things. Let them help you sell to others by providing incentives for sharing information.


People who want to discuss things they have learned with others. They are interested in relationships and work hard to maintain them. Once they have a relationship with you they will want to keep it and are primary candidates for rewards and clubs. While they like to take their time making the decision, once they make it you have them for a long time.  Sell to them by building relationships and keep in touch. Let them know what others think about your products.


You need to get straight to the point with these people. They want information and them will ask you several questions, so make sure you know your stuff. They are the people who want the details, so focus more on facts. To sell them, validate their thoughts and emotions and when they are right, let them know. Pictures as well as words help.

While many of us share some traits from more than one personality type, look out for the traits you can identify.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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It’s Time For A Change

“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!

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Have Tea, Will Travel

I just returned from a week in the Midwest, working mid week with the wineries of Iowa and then on to Illinois for some time with the wineries in the Northern region.

After flying into and staying in Des Moines overnight, I drove down to Two Saints Winery in St. Charles to present a full day seminar, then took off for Oskaloosa to visit Tassel Ridge Winery. From there it was a three-hour trip up to Galena, Illinois.

I was listening to the radio as I drove up to Galena and was told of a tornado watch around Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, which I was passing at the time. I am happy to say that the tornado did not materialize in that area though Illinois got hit. I have no idea of what to do in a tornado, having only lived in England and California, neither of which is known for tornados.

Galena, Illinois is a picturesque little town, obviously a tourist town, with lots of wonderful shops, restaurants and a few wine tasting rooms and my stay at Galena Cellars, where I presented another full day seminar, was fun and interesting. Thanks Chris (Lawlor-White) for your wonderful hospitality! I would definitely like to go back to Galena and take in more of the wineries in and around that area.

It’s so gratifying to see the wineries in these areas doing so well and making a variety of wines that suit their climate, some dry wines, some sweet and some in between. Their enthusiasm for their products and dedication to their profession is inspiring.

Wine clubs are catching on in these areas, with a few in Iowa and more in Illinois and even more in the planning for a number of wineries. In both states, I tasted some lovely Seyvals (one of my favorite grapes) as well as Marquette and Chambourcin. The French hybrids are doing very well in the Midwest and the wineries understand the grapes as well as the demands of their customers.

The only thing I have to remember when I travel to the Midwest is to make sure that I have plenty to teabags with me, as it’s hard to get a cup of tea in many restaurants. Which is the reason for the title of this blog. But as long as I have terrific people to work with (and the Midwest has plenty of those), can get a good glass of wine, and remember to bring plenty of teabags with me, I am set.

So thanks to the wineries for their wholehearted welcome and to the people who worked hard to put the days of training together. It’s always a pleasure to come to the Midwest and I hope to be back to see you soon! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A tip of the glass (and the cup) from me to you!