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  A newsletter for managers of tasting rooms, wine clubs and DTC wine sales
  July 2, 2014
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WISE Bites   Tasting Rooms in the Flesh
Leveraging Your Wine Club Benefits
Into More Sales
  Tips for Traveling in France
Is your tasting room staff missing more than half of their opportunities to make a sale?

In conducting more than 1,500 mystery shops during the past five years, the WISE Academy has seen some major progress in the wine industry direct-to-consumer guest experience, which is often a winery’s fastest growing channel with the highest profit margin.

Five years ago, when we first started tracking mystery-shopping results, tasting room staff asked for the order only 20% of the time. Today, an average of 50% of our tasting room staff members ask guests if they’d like to take some wine home with them. This industry progress in asking for the order has driven strong, profitable sales growth in most winery tasting rooms.

Our industry progress has also improved when it comes to pitching the wine club, but not as much as it could. Contrary to the popular belief that wine clubs are pushed hard in every tasting room, the actual attempts at wine club sales are much lower. Four years ago only 15% of tasting room staff brought up the wine club. Today that number has grown to about 35%, but it is still falling behind asking for a wine order at 50%. Since the wine club is a winery’s best steady, high-margin, profitable income, not even offering it to 65% of the people coming through our winery doors is, well, crazy.

And just describing how the wine club works and its laundry list of features isn’t enough. A better, more natural way to sell the wine club is to weave the benefits in throughout the tasting. People who are uncomfortable with sales tend to err on the side of information dumping when they get in front of a potential buyer. They will go on and on about what it is and how it works. Using both features and their related benefits to explain and sell the club is much more effective. A feature is a factual statement about a product or service. A benefit describes what something does and answers the question: What’s in it for the customer?

  When this eNewsletter is published I will still be in France touring wine regions/towns including Chablis, Beaune, Chateau Chalon and Vacqueyras. A summary of my trip will be published in the next eNewsletter if you are interested in reading an anecdotal, fact-based, wine-related story. To let my editors know if you would be interested in such an “article,” please email back “yes” or “no,” and they will take your input into account. Thanks.

As a “teaser,” here are some pointers you may be interested in if you are planning a trip to France:
  • Assume the euro to be 40% more expensive than the dollar. Some things will be cheaper (like bread), some more expensive (like gasoline at twice the U.S. price). “Distributeur de Billets” (ATMs) are everywhere—just ask…
  • Get a credit card with a chip (ask your card provider). Most restaurants and grocery stores use the portable scanner that reads the chip, not the magnetic strip we use.
  • Rent a car with automatic transmission, unlimited mileage and GPS (called navigation). You probably will have to upgrade to get these extras. Don’t assume that basic rentals come with the features you are used to.
  • Diesel is 30% cheaper than gasoline—and putting gasoline in a diesel car does not work. (Trust me on this one!)
  • Save euro coins for Autoroute (freeways), as the unattended booth will not read a credit card (even with the chip). Having 20 euros ready in denominations of 1 or 2 euro coins should keep you out of trouble.
  • Do not speed. The regulation of French roads is drastically different than it was 15 years ago. Cameras will get you at even 5 kmh above the speed limit (and they’ll find you via rental car agencies).
  • Make reservations at the wineries you want to visit, and allow 90 minutes for each.
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"WISE Bites" continued   "Tasting Rooms in the Flesh" continued
Features alone don’t usually close the sale. We need benefits, which appeal to the customer’s emotions, to make the sale, whether it’s for the wine club or wine sales. “Planting the seeds” of the benefits throughout the guests’ experience is a strong way to talk about the wine or wine club, but not in a hard, pressured way. It allows us to offer up some benefits without being pushy. Sometimes when people offer objections, it’s a way of asking for more information about the benefits of the wine, club or mailing list. Provide options, explain the benefits, and know when it’s time to drop it.

Remember, that while we personally may feel inundated with wine club competitors, our wine country guests are not. They have sought us out. If they have had a good time, they will want to know how to have a relationship with our winery, and they will appreciate the offer to stay in touch. And we want them to, too. So how often are your tasting room team members really bringing up your wine club benefits at all, let alone effectively?

Source: WISE Academy,
W&V Packaging Conference on Aug. 20

WV Conference Based on the success of our 2013 Wine Anti-Counterfeiting Seminar, Wines & Vines is hosting a packaging conference Aug. 20 in Napa, Calif., for wine industry professionals. Speakers include experts on closures, screen printing, anti-tampering technology, labels and more. View the schedule and register here. For information about exhibiting at the event, contact Tina Vierra at (415) 453-9700, ext. 102.


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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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