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  October 5, 2016
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Outsourcing Telesales   Lodi

How to Succeed in Five WISE Steps
Telesales is the fastest growing direct sales channel for wineries. Whether you choose to accomplish this in-house or outsource it, we encourage you to take advantage of this sales channel—but be smart about it. Staffing for telesales requires special skills and training. As a result, many wineries have chosen to outsource this to a professional organization that deals specifically with winery telesales.

If you are considering outsourcing telesales, here are five WISE points to remember to achieve the greatest success in this channel.

1. Start Off Right
Your telesales partner needs just as much attention as a new hire. They will represent your winery when interacting with your customers. What they’ll need:

  • Provide your telesales team with a scrubbed list of phone numbers. They need to connect with your database and pull phone numbers into their call center system. Let them to see where they can help fill in missing information, such as birthdates and email addresses. The team will get off to a faster start building sales with a clean, scrubbed, list.

Last week I visited several wineries and suppliers of wineries in the Lodi AVA. Located east of the North Coast wine-producing counties, Lodi has been at the heart of a revolution taking advantage of improved wine-growing conditions and winemaking technology. As part of my visit, I was delivering a “printed-on-demand” cardboard wine box created by EZCorr Corp., which specializes in printing high-quality images (including photos) onto boxes that can be used for personalizing wine sales down to an audience of one or 200 guests at a wedding. You can see an example of this printing at the company’s Facebook page. 

The recipient of this custom package was the owner of Michael David Winery in Lodi, where the winery’s busy tasting room incorporates a restaurant and even a fruit stand. The interesting hospitality setup seems to work very well, although such an endeavor is subject to zoning and permit laws.


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 "WISE Bites" continued.


 "Tasting Room Forum" continued.

  • Give them your entire list, not just people that have not ordered in years, and don’t leave out your club members. Update your list regularly. There has been great success selling to a person who did not make an initial purchase in the tasting room, but then purchased when called 90 days after their visit. They are the professionals who understand how to make the most sales from your database. We say, let ’em do it!
  • Provide them your do-not-call list. This may include shareholders, board members or customers who already have a very strong relationship with a staff member who actually sells them wine on a regular basis.
  • Include written information as you would like it shared with your customers—winery history, brand message, wine information including tasting notes and food pairings. Customers can’t taste the wine over the phone, so stories sell, as do great descriptors. Any unique, interesting stories that support the “why” behind the wines or winery are helpful.
  • Be sure to include wine club information—club structures, pricing, shipment wines and membership benefits. Provide tasting room information—tasting options, how to book, hours open, upcoming events, shipping costs and what states you ship to. Arm your outsourced team as well as or better than you would anyone answering your winery phone.

Make sure that key internal staff members know you are launching a telesales program. Designate someone from the winery for the telesales team to contact if they need assistance during the evenings or weekends.

2. Schedule a Site Visit
Your telesales partner will assign you account representatives. Invite them to visit the winery and onboard them like a new staff member:

  • Give them a tour and introduce them to the tasting room and wine club staff—anyone that customers may be used to interacting with.
  • Taste through the wines with them, ideally with the winemaker. If all reps are not present, send wines back for them to taste, or schedule a tasting at their office.
  • Give the tasting room the names of reps who are calling customers to avoid comments like, “No one by that name works here.” It should be “Yes, he works in an offsite office, so I will be happy to take care of you today.” This helps maintain brand integrity and a seamless connection between the outsourced and internal channels.

3. Sales Focus
Provide your telesales partner with the same products the team has internally. The goal is to make ordering as easy as possible, no matter which channel customers choose.

Often telesales companies are only given a small number of products to sell. This causes confusion for customers if they get a call from the “winery,” and then can’t purchase across the entire portfolio. If it’s on your website, your telesales partner should have access to it.

Ensure that you telesales team knows ahead of time about any special offers sent via email, direct mail or social media so that they can speak intelligently when a customer inquires. Make sure that they are able to sell the wines featured. Limited availability, library wines, large formats and pre-releases are excellent wines to have your telesales team focus on.

Treat Your Reps as Part of the Team
Your telesales partner needs just as much attention as your internal team. While the reps do work for another company, it’s important to remember that phone reps take ownership of “their” brands, just like your internal team.

Celebrate sales successes. Stop by their office with a nice bottle of wine, swag and kudos to reinforce their loyalty, enthusiasm and connection to your brand. Invite reps to events such as pick-up or harvest parties so they can see customers face to face. Enroll them in the wine club so that they get the shipments, read the newsletter and taste the wines.

5. Hold Quarterly Business Reviews
Meet with your partner to discuss performance and ask for feedback from the phone reps to find out what is working well and where their roadblocks and challenges are. Review key metrics: total sales, conversion to order or club, average order size, number of club sign ups and credit card updates. Keep the team on track with everyone having full insight.

Following these five simple—yet WISE—tips will ensure that you have the utmost success in this growing sales channel.


Source: WISE Academy,




  • As part of the 2016 Wines & Vines Packaging Conference, Wines & Vines organized a contest to celebrate the best packaging designs in the wine industry. This year, the winner of the Most Innovative Wine Packaging Award submitted by a supplier went to Quest Industries for their Reed Vineyards bottle “mask spray” design. Find out who won the other awards presented at the conference here.
  • Facebook Reactions provides a new tool for consumers to express themselves online. This article by Tereza Litsa explains how companies can use the opportunities presented by Facebook Reactions to increase marketing efficiency.
  • The August 2016 Wine Industry Metrics showed very positive moves, specifically in the direct-to-consumer and Winery Job Index categories. As the Winery Job Index went up 10% in August, the DtC job offerings showed the same healthy growth. This trend is driven by the 600-plus new wineries that opened this year and increased awareness of DtC as a profitable sales arena.
  • Wine label compliance is always a challenge for all wineries. Ann Reynolds of Wine Compliance Alliance writes about the new requirements for wine label approval here.
  • As part of your DtC strategy, why not have wine in a can available for visitors who eat their lunches on the road? Backpack Wine offers a selection of varietals here.
  • Frozen drinks are a must in the summer and fall. One company has found a way to blend wine with their product and satisfy the thirst of all: Wine-A-Rita could be a winner in your tasting room.
  • In a competitive and dynamic environment, education is a critical factor in getting promoted. Many institutions offer specific classes that will enhance your skills and your value to the wineries where you are employed. Here are a few examples:
  • The University of California, Davis, Graduate School of Management offers several executive programs.
  • Washington State University and and Oregon State University have expanded their offerings in the wine business. Read more about it here.
  • Sonoma State University announced a series of informational programs during the next three months. Get more information about the main programs here.
  • In addition to its winery and vineyard programs, Santa Rosa Junior College also offers beer-related education. Read a description here.
  • Lake Michigan College is building a state-of-the-art teaching winery and culinary facility to reach the Southern Michigan community. How the school plans to use the use of the $1 million grant is described here.


  • California: With their sheer numbers and purchasing power, Chinese visitors have become the focus of Napa Valley winery hospitality professionals. Here are a few words of wisdom to better understand how to make their visit more enjoyable and rewarding.
  • A new AVA in New York? Mary Cirincione of the Daily Gazette reports on the wineries looking to form the Upper Hudson AVA.


Please send suggestions to

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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