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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Give Customers The Opportunity To Buy

As I said in my Facebook post yesterday, sales is about giving your customers the opportunity to do something that will enhance their lives. I started thinking about this when I came across an interesting article about overcoming the reluctance to sell in Entrepreneur.com. The article, written by Jacqueline Whitmore, asks the question, “Why are so many people afraid to ask for the sale?” Mostly she says that the fear of rejection keeps us from selling and reminds us to take the selling out of the selling process. She’s right.

Selling is so much easier when you are of the mindset that people want to buy and if we remember that by encouraging the customer to buy something s/he wants you are making their life a little bit better. So think about why people have come into your business. More than likely you have something that interests them. OK, they may have stopped because they needed to go to the bathroom or they were sick of sitting in the car, but let’s be positive and assume that they have an interest in your product.

In order to encourage buying, you need to know what they want and need, so start by asking questions. You can’t diagnose the problem or need if you have no idea what drives them. So ask questions and listen to the answers, which will give you the information about what they want or need. Then tailor your presentation to fill that need.

One of the most important things you can do is listen. Rather than talking about your products, listen to what customers say then ask questions that will give you more information. Listen especially hard for any objections (which are really buying signs) so you can reassure them that by buying they are making the best decision.

Once they know that you can fill their needs, don’t forget to ask for the sale. Give customers options, a choice between one product or another and then add that they may wish to take both.

You may need some practice, so make the time to practice in front of the mirror, where you can also see your facial expressions and body language, and don’t forget your tone of voice. These three things are much more influential than the words you say.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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New Research on Influencing Customers

Well, I have been doing a lot of reading and thinking lately. I have been on the road quite a bit, which due to the great winter weather and mechanical problems with planes has left me with plenty of time to think about marketing, sales, customer service and all the things I spend my time thinking about.  This additional thinking time and some interesting research I have come across has led me to some new conclusions.

As many of you know, I have often said that it’s not all about the product! That success is mostly about how you treat the customers, though this new research that I have following in the latest business books and magazines while hanging around airports has me considering a change in my attitudes.

One book, “The Convoluted Mind of the Average Consumer” by Y.Q. Bhoolzmann is showing that customers don’t really take into consideration the information given to them by the salespeople, or the way they are treated. They primarily make up their minds through a convoluted series of thoughts and ideas that they may have misconstrued or come to arbitrarily.

The research also shows that consumers are more interested in the shape of the packaging than any other facet of the look of the product and that the mostly prefer angular rather than rounded shapes.

However, by far the most interesting fact that came to light in all this new research is the fact that’s it’s April 1st today… April Fool.  (Sorry I couldn’t resist!)

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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How Are Your Sales… And, More Importantly, How Are Your Profits?

In the midst of the season, let’s take a minute or two to think about sales and to think about the profitability of the wine that your sell. Are you making a decent profit on your wine overall?

I see a lot of discounting going on and sometimes the discounts wineries are giving seem to detract from the value, rather than increase it. Certainly a discount of 10 or 15 percent on a case of wine is an incentive to visitors to buy those extra few bottles, and giving an additional discount to consumers who buy from you regularly is a good way to say thank you and let you know that they are important to you. However, I see wineries offering excessive discounts ­– which to me is any more than 25 of 30%. Make sure you have a good story to go along with that discount.

If there is no real reason for a large discount, visitors may believe that either the wine is not very good, or that they were grossly overcharged when they purchased bottles at full price. Many people like to get a bargain (I have to admit that I am one of them), but at the same time it’s important that they understand that getting your wine at a lower than usual price is something they shouldn’t expect very often. Here are a few ways to make discounting work for you:

  1. If you offer a discount for good customers, make sure the people you send the offer to are good customers only. You want people to feel that you are offering them the discount because you appreciate them, rather than because you are trying to get their business.
  2. Have a reason for offering discounts, such as the end of a vintage, making room in the warehouse for a new vintage, an annual or semi-annual sale, or to allow customers to stock up for the holidays.

Discounts over and above the regular six bottle, case or wine club discounts should not be a regular occurrence, they should be special and be positioned to customers as a time to take advantage of a rare opportunity. By not over using discounts you can use them to your advantage.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

A Fair Weekend

I spent the weekend (actually Friday, Saturday and Sunday) at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, helping a friend of mine work his booth. What a fun weekend! Yes, my feet are killing me, still, but it was well worth it. I really do enjoy working with the public. Talking to people as they walked by, showing them the products, giving them ideas on how they can be used and reminding them that the holidays are just around the corner. So, this was as a great time to get a jumpstart on their holiday shopping, and it was all so much fun for me. I really do like people; all of them, even the ones that are none too cheery…

We sold lots of merchandise, which made packing up much easier, and a fair amount of it we sold because of my reminders about the holidays, birthdays and other gift giving occasions. It really helps to remind people about what is coming up and how quickly.

One of the items we were selling was a tote bag. So I suggested making it the base of a gift that included a bottle of wine, some crackers, cheese or chocolate. We sold out all of the bags in three hours.

What selling opportunities may you be missing in the winery? Think about items that can be put together in gift baskets or tote bags. If you have a newsletter coming out soon include information about holiday shopping and the items you have available.  A couple of bottles of wine combined with a corkscrew, drip ring and glasses make a great gift.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

The Perfect Cup of Tea

As many of you know, I’m British and because of that I very much value a good cup of tea. Now, getting a good cuppa in the United States can be difficult. With the propensity towards lawsuits, restaurants are cautious about giving customers hot water. The water is usually tepid. Also, I can’t tell you the number of times I have been reminded not to scald myself. I have been drinking tea for many decades and am proud to say that I have never once scalded myself and am not about to start now.

Last Saturday I was at my favorite breakfast spot and the waitress came by to refill my teapot. Before picking it up she asked me, “Do you like the water really hot?” I answered that I did. When she returned she told me that she had filled the teapot from the Espresso machine, because the water that comes from the machine is much hotter than that from regular pot.

As you can imagine I was thrilled. The tea was delicious (the best cup of tea I’ve had outside my house in some time!) and my pleasure was reflected in the tip I left her. I was impressed by that small attention to detail, which resulted in a very satisfied customer (me). When I’m out drinking tea from now on, I will ask if the establishment has an Espresso machine and if so, if they will get the hot water for my tea from there.

It’s such a small thing but it made a big impression. It should be the same in any retail establishment, including wineries. Attention to the minor details is what makes for very satisfied customers. So think about the small things and improve your service and sales, and make your visitors friends for life.

A sua saude! (To your health!), Portugal

What Business Are We In?

When I ask that question, the answer I most commonly get back (along with a slightly quizzical look, as if I should know) is that we’re in the wine business. And while, on the surface that seems like it should be the answer, it’s not.

Wine is our product, but as the hospitality folks the business we’re in is the business of people, and our job is to build relationships, creating connections and memories for our guests as we go. Even if we are winemakers, vineyard managers or owners, when we come into contact with wine drinkers, we need to do all we can to connect.

Visitors may love your wine, but that won’t always make them plan a return visit, attend events or join your wine club. There’s lots of good wine out there and for the majority of consumers the quality of the product is only a part of why they buy. What makes them more likely to buy is the quality of the connection the guests form with those who work for the winery, whether that connection is in person, over the phone or even through email.

People connect with people. No matter the price point of the wine, the product is enhanced by the guests’ connection with the person or people they meet at and through the winery and how those people meet their expectations.

So, find out what each visitor is expecting by asking questions, discover a little about these visitors, get to know what wine means in their lives. Don’t start talking about the wine until you have some idea why they decided to stop in. Be interested in your visitors as people first and buyers second. You’ll sell more by concentrating on who they are and less about trying to give them every fact about the wine. Who knows, you might even find a great new friend.