Tasting Room Newsletter November 2011

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  A newsletter for managers of tasting rooms, wine clubs, and DTC wine sales
  November 1, 2011
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WISE Bites
Monologue vs. Dialogue
From over 500 WISE mystery shops over the last two years, we know that only one out of six tasting room professionals actually assesses customers' buying needs and then adjusts the conversation accordingly. Too many of your team members get stuck in “monologue mode” and miss the unique preferences, needs and buying signals of the person in front of them. Research shows that this trap is significantly holding back both tasting room sales performance and guest satisfaction.
Is your staff talking at your guests or with them? Do you really know?
In a monologue, you talk at a person and give them your presentation. No matter how professional and educational your patter is, it’s just a one-way street. In a dialogue, you talk with a person in a relevant conversation asking questions and exchanging information. You still work in all the key points about your winery – but as a natural part of the conversation and in a way that they’re receptive to it.
Ask open-ended questions to understand more about your customer – what their relationship is with your winery, with wine in general and what they are going to be most receptive to today. You can accurately profile customers – and then adapt accordingly – by engaging them in conversation. This will give you clues on how to sell to the individual in front of you. 
Monologues don’t build relationships, get club members or sell wine. Dialogues do. Dialogue leads to rapport, rapport leads to trust, and trust leads to sales.
The power of positive profiling (rather than pre-judging) and more dialogue is not only that it leads to more sales, but also customer satisfaction is actually much higher because they feel that they had a unique experience, tailored to their preferences.
What will it take for your team to evolve from monologue to dialogue?

Source: WISE Academy, www.wineindustrysaleseducation.com

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  Tasting Room in the Flesh
To Do and Not To Do
I admit I visit a lot of winery tasting rooms every month (all in the name of research, of course). Most are within a day’s driving distance of my home in Healdsburg, Calif., but they should represent the entire span of large to small, rich to poor, new to old, crowded to empty. My tastes in hospitality management are based on the combination of friendly efficiency and the “customer is always right” attitude. I also appreciate a dollop of French/Italian flair in décor and in food/wine pairing.
To Do: When I stopped at Round Pond, a 6,000-case upper-class winery on the Silverado Trail, a concierge greeted me at the entrance with a one-minute executive summary of the winery’s history and offerings. The greeting was first class, friendly and efficient, and I knew exactly what to do to start my gracious experience. Colleen Dray is the director of guest relations and has great ideas about how to manage a direct-to-consumer environment.
Not To Do: A while ago in Alexander Valley, I stopped at NotToDo Cellars (the name has been changed to protect some innocents), a 4,000-case winery with a beautiful tasting room with huge glass windows overlooking the valley. Four guests were at the long bar, and two older gentlemen (nothing against “older gentlemen,” as I am part of the “older” generation myself) behind the bar. No one offered a “welcome” or “hello,” not even a look acknowledging my presence. (I don’t dress that great, but still!) After a solid five minutes, which seemed like an hour, one separated himself from the couple he was having a discussion with and asked me, “What would you like?” It went downhill after that—and I like their wines! But I will never recommend that anyone visit them.
Lessons To Learn: Even if you cannot work out the full-time concierge, someone should always be a designated greeter to welcome guests. One smiling, welcoming person should fill that position during busy times like weekends and special events—and no discrimination please. The young kid in torn jeans who arrogantly walked in may just have sold his Internet company for $1 billion and be ready to share the wealth. Finally, how about saying, “Thank you for stopping by. Please come again.” People will remember that and mention it to others.

Jacques Brix is Vice-President and Director of Sales, West Coast for Wines & Vines. This column is based on his personal experiences at winery tasting rooms.
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