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Bust the Top 10 Sales Myths.

In reviewing the experiences of more than 4,000 mystery shoppers in tasting rooms and working actively with wineries every day, we've heard some remarkable myths out there. Most of the myths we hear are about why it's a challenge (or "impossible") to sell wine, sell wine club memberships, or ask people to join a winery mailing list.

Since most of us tend to remember our failures more vividly than we remember our successes, we dwell on all the reasons why we can't sell. More often than not, we just have to get out of our own way and brainstorm ways to counter the objections, which may be mostly in our heads. Let's bust these myths and see them for what they really are.

People aren't buying because of the economy.

This was true in 2009, but today the economy is doing well. Unemployment is so low in California that we have trouble finding staff. People have money and are willing to spend on treats-like your wine.

People are sick of hearing about wine clubs.

We find that staff present the wine club about 55% to 60% of the time in a typical tasting-room experience. This is higher in some markets (Napa and Sonoma counties) but even lower in other markets. This means nearly half (45%) or more of the people visiting wineries aren't even hearing about wine clubs. Customers might be sick of hearing about wine clubs that are simply discount programs but would be interested in hearing about clubs that have other benefits beyond the discount. If you're selling it in a brand-appropriate way, when you tell your guests what's in it for them and invite them to join an authentically special club, they will!

Wine club members don't buy.

Club members are the bread and butter of the typical direct-to-consumer program because of how much they really do buy. Perhaps not all winety staff understand how important they are. While they may not buy every time they visit, they do bring their friends, take regular shipments, and often use the winery as part of their celebrations. Their friends will join, too, if we remember to invite them.

No one wants to give their email address out, especially to a winery.

Most people will sign up to receive an email with at least one business that they love getting updates on. Everyone wants to be an insider, be the first to know about events and new product releases, and get special deals on things they want most. Email is still one of the best ways to do it. Instead of simply asking for the email address, you need to explain what's in it for the customer. They will not be able to resist your compelling pitch due to fear of missing out.

You have to use discounts to sell wine or wine clubs.

Strong brands tell stories that make people want to be part of something that cool. What stories should you be telling to convince your guests that they want to be part of your story? If you focus on what makes you special, using discounts is not as important.

People only buy wines that are highly rated.

Guests who are focused on ratings are looking for validation that this is a wine they will be proud to buy or serve. But ratings aren't the only way to validate. Such customers will also be interested to know which wines are club member favorites, which restaurants pour the wines and other accolades.

People from no-ship states shouldn't be asked to join a club or buy wine.

Maybe they can't have wine shipped to their homes at present, but they have friends and family to send gifts to. They might move to a state where shipping is allowed. They might buy your wine at stores in their home state, and that's good for your brand, too.

Single/young/old people don't buy.

Nor do people with black/brown/red/blond hair. Nor do bald people or people with tattoos. Actually, no one buys anything anymore. Just ask Amazon. Remind your team not to negatively profile guests. The only way to find out if a customer is interested in buying is to ask enough open-ended questions to figure out their interests.

Phone campaigns aren't important. People don't want to be called.

Everyone wants to hear from a winery about amazing deals selected just for them. They simply don't want to be called by someone who doesn't understand their needs and interests.

Incentive compensation by individual team member doesn't matter.

Sure, we'd be happy if we all got paid the same, but the advantage of an individual incentive program is the recognition it gives team members for their efforts, and it motivates the top performers to keep it up. Set up correctly, the incentive should be one that encourages work-friendly competition in order to motivate each team member to do his or her best.

The next time you hear an excuse for not being able to sell--in a brand-appropriate way--ask yourself if it's valid or simply a myth. If it's a myth, look at the challenge a little differently, and find a way to get to "Yes!"

WISE Academy (Wine Industry Sales Education) offers a comprehensive curriculum designed specifically for wine industry professionals, and celebrated its 10th year in 2018. Learn more at
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Comment:Bust the Top 10 Sales Myths.(TASTING ROOM FOCUS)
Publication:Wines & Vines
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2018
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