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  January 6, 2015
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Will Someone Pick Up the Phone?    Happy New Year!
One of the fastest growing direct-to-consumer (DtC) channels is phone sales, yet too few wineries are focused on this. Every time our phone rings—and not just calls to the sales team—it could mean money. Are we doing everything we can to turn an interested caller into an interested buyer? If not, why not? Our customers are interested in our wines—they are calling us!



Happy new year to North American winery sales professionals! Last year saw unprecedented growth in the direct-to-consumer (DtC) strategy of wine selling. This year is poised to be even better, so make your business plans accordingly and implement them with lots of Cheers!


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Inbound phone calls are an under-utilized sales channel with many wineries. They can be real moneymakers if wineries are smart about it. Being good at inbound phone calls goes beyond being polite and courteous or even being helpful and hospitable. If we are really listening to our customers and understanding their needs, we have the potential to turn many phone calls into sales dollars—all in a brand-appropriate and natural way.

Many people are so concerned with being gracious on the phone that they are not hearing what the customer really needs and are too afraid to ask for the sale. With phone sales, it’s faceless communication—it’s all verbal. The two most important tones for selling are: knowledgeable and enthusiastic. With faceless communication, we can’t be wearing a $500 outfit, have that all-important head nod or knowing and excited smile. Our voice must convey all that. We want our caller to think: “This guy knows what he is talking about!”

There are five steps to an inbound sales call. Turn these five steps into your blueprint for phone-sale success:

  1. Start of the phone call
    When the phone rings, remember, the caller dialed a sales line—offer the sale! Don’t assume they don’t want to buy. Don’t waste their time if they do. Ask for the sale. You can establish the call right away as a sales call by asking if you can take their order immediately after introducing yourself.

  2. Answer questions succinctly  
    Giving too much unsolicited information causes confusion. Avoid information overload and turn negatives into opportunities.

  3. Listen and learn
    Ask questions to learn the caller's needs and interests. Listen for "buying signals" and key information. Help your customer by understanding his or her needs and delivering a solution that is a win-win for everyone You can up-sell and cross-sell to your customer.

    The key to successful up-selling: It is all about them. Offer your caller the best options for their particular needs and interests.

    The key to successful cross-selling is figuring out: What else will they like? Offer new options that expand thier experience but align with their likes. Think of the Amazon model: "If you liked this, you will like this."

    Learning the caller's needs and interests, finding a fit for them, and then being able to offer them something else they might like or need: That's great customer service!
  4. Handle objections
    Be sure you understand the objection before solving it. Find out what the objection is and solve it.

  5. Close the call
    Finish the call by closing the loop. Ensure you've answered the caller's needs. Be positive and use inclusive language like, "We look forward to seeing you." Show interest in the caller's needs and ensure you have their correct contact information. Ask for it!
This breakdown of the five steps of a call can help you create a system for navigating your phone calls and, by doing so, offering better customer service as well as incremental sales. That’s just smart business. Start the new year with a focus on growing your own phone sales channel with the resources you already have.

Source: WISE Academy,

  Who was the wine consumer in 2014?
When planning for a new year, you review the previous year and try to duplicate/enhance the good parts and correct the not-so-good bits. Planning includes what we used to call in my old computer science days: OIP (output, input, process). i.e., What do I want to achieve (output–goal)? What do I have to do it (input – products/employees/clients/prospects)? What procedures do I need to put in place to achieve it (process – business actions/goal setting/reviews/tools/etc…)? The article “Snapshot of the American Wine Consumer in 2014,”  published by Wine Business Monthly, analyzes your potential consumers’ habits and preferences, which are part of the “input” information you need to make a valid business plan.

Gallo shares research on wine consumers
Gallo, the largest family-owned wine company in the world, commissioned a survey to profile frequent wine drinkers. This data is useful for any sales person looking to understand who their client is and how to tailor sales pitches and presentations. Read more here.

Wine Tupperware parties? Why not?
Jean-Charles Boisset is no newcomer to innovation. As a mover and shaker of the French and American wine industries, he tipped me off a few years ago to his idea of expanding the world of wine into the family environment just like Tupperware did for the packaging industry. This article by Elin McCoy, published by, explains. Wines & Vines also covered the trend in an article from July 2013.

Facebooking while inebriated?
Ever happened to you? Well, someone is developing a “deep-learning” software to recognize the nature of your Facebook entry and decide if you should be warned off posting. Read more here.

Wine Industry Metrics
Direct-to-consumer sales for the month of November 2014 were up nearly $50 million over the same month in 2013. Learn more about November 2014 wine industry metrics at


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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 and events.




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