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Winning & Losing At Wine Tasting

Strive For More Than Ho-Hum

Pardon my rant...This weekend (10/11/10) we went wine tasting with some family members that were in from out of town and the experience was just ho-hum. (And ho-hum just don't cut it today if you're in business to make a big profit.)

If you're not familiar with the Temecula Valley and the excellent wines this area is producing I recommend you check out the 40+ wineries we have to offer and then come on down and pay us a visit.

We'll leave the lights on fer ya!

But I digress.

This post is about my head-scratching wine tasting experience this weekend that makes me wonder how some of these places stay open.

I'm writing this for a few reasons:

  1. I love sales and marketing as well as writing about it and this weekend presented something on which to ponder digitally.
  2. I love the Temecula Valley and I want you to come to visit.
  3. I love the wineries and I want them to do well (sometimes tough love is needed) because the more businesses that do well here the better it is for all of us.
  4. I have more kids than fingers (at least on one hand) and it can be tough to arrange babysitting. So when my wife and I have a chance to get out with the big kids rather than sit home and "self-medicate" we have some high expectations! (But when they let us down it's a BIG let down!)

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Now on with the sordid details...

We only visited two wineries because the overall experience was so under-whelming that we decided to call it a night and go get some food in old town Temecula during the Rod Run. (Another good reason to come on down, notwithstanding my current story.)


Become One of The 5


Birds of a Feather, Guilt By Association, Professional Courtesy, et al.

In David Sandler's bike book he stresses the point that his overall goal was to conduct himself in such a way that it brought honor and dignity to the profession of sales and all sales professionals, even his competitors, because he knew if he acted like a beggar in one account it would come around and bite him on the butt sometime soon and the end result would be massive discounting, lower margins, increased bidding and negotiation and an overall drop in job satisfaction.

These two wineries did not read Sandler's book. (I'll withhold the names to protect the guilty.)

The grounds of the first winery were beautiful.

Their misters were running outside keeping their visitors cool on the patio.

Tours were being conducted.

The parking lot was full and we were in a cheerful mood, so we wandered on in to "get our tasting on!"

The hostesses were pleasant enough and that is where the fun ended.

The fee for the regular tasting was $12, which included six tastings but you couldn't keep the glass.

I thought you always kept the glass, but as I said before, I'm not an expert so I shrugged it off as them cutting costs and followed my family (8 of us in all, 6 of us actually drinking) to the closest tasting bar.

Your Staff = Your Business


The young man they had working this section of the wine tasting was a turd in the punchbowl!

This one 22-year-old kid in some stylish shirt, cool tie, and fauxhawk drove us all away from that winery as quickly as we could down our 6 tastings and leave our glasses behind.


How To Control Every Sale


He was not interactive.

He did not smile.

He did not ask us where we were from or if we had been there before.

He did not describe the wines or mention any specials.

He scowled when asking for our little wine-tasting card so he could expeditiously mark off each tasting and otherwise functioned as an IRS or Board of Equalization auditor.

End Result: we left. We bought nothing extra.

My wife will tell many of her friends about the lackluster experience.

I'll forward this post to a few people I know here in town who own and/or run some of these wineries and offer to give them some private feedback if they are strong enough to take it.

Since I know the owner I'm leaving the name of the winery out of this because it is, in fact, an excellent winery that produces some outstanding wines but they are leaving money on the table with this kid at the bar

Know Your Sales Numbers

Keep in mind, that the place was quite busy.

There were easily 100+ on the grounds during the 45 minutes we were there.

If they are all couples that buy wine together that's 50 opportunities to sell a case of wine.

If a case of wine is $100, that's $5,000 every 45 minutes they COULD be selling while they are open.

If they are open 6 hours that's $40,000 a day, times two days on a weekend = $80,000 times 50 weekends = $4,000,000 in retail sales that could or could not happen because of how some dude with a fauxhawk wants to act that day.

What if half of those 400 buyers per weekend / 20,000 per year (that's 10,000 sales opportunities!) buy one more case during the year as part of the wine club?

That's an additional $2,000,000 in sales this winery is leaving up to chance.

Man oh, Man!

I wish I was so darn rich I could just let $6,000,000 in sales "come or go, like, you know, whatever, Dude.

It's all good.

I'll just leave it up to the universe to provide for me and my employees."

(Disclaimer: There were 3 other associates at the first winery so let's say the others were fantastic and cut that $6,000,000 in sales by 75%. That leaves $1,500,000 in lost revenue. Now let's say a case of wine only costs $50 instead of $100. That still leaves $750,000 in lost revenue. Finally, if only half of the 50 prospects were true wine buyers the final tally (50% of 50% of 75% of the potential revenue this guy is losing his employer on weekends only) is $375,000, not counting wine club memberships, etc.


Get The 21 Sales Secrets


The Difference Sales Training Makes

Do you still think sales training and communication skills don't matter?

The Second Winery: started off on the wrong foot but turned out better because of Christina, the lovely and gracious pourer at a rather large winery here in Temecula.

As we approached the main entrance there were cash registers placed outside under the patio with confusing signs about some sort of VIP club so we passed by that table and "shoved" our way through to go inside.

Once there we were told by one staff member at one counter to go to another counter to pay.

The lady at that counter told us to go back outside to a different cash register since she only took customers that were buying merchandise.

Once outside again we were told to wait for some never-to-be-seen cashier who maybe could have taken our money.

Finally, we were instructed to get back in the original line, which was NOT reserved JUST for VIP members!?

Anyway, we finally pay and here we learn that we only get 5 tastings for $12 but we can keep the glass. (Is there some collusion going on here?)

So we meander on back through an exceptionally busy gift shop and tasting rooms to meet Christina.

Suffice it to say, everything that the first dude was, she was NOT!

Upsells Are Easy...With Good Sales Training

End result: my aunt and uncle bought a case of wine from them and we even busted open a couple of them Sunday!

And they are big wine drinkers so it is quite possible they will not only tell quite a few people about this nice wine but they will steer people to their winery.

Furthermore, my uncle is quite influential with the California Board of Realtors and he will be telling some positive stories to a great many Realtors who I bet will also buy wine and/or tell others about the winery.

(2/29/16 Update: My same uncle was in town yesterday and we drank some wine from that winery over 5 years later.)

What do you want to bet the latter winery grows faster than the former?

All because of the attitude of some part-time weekend workers.

Excellence Beats Scarcity

In the words of Michael E. Gerber, excellence beats scarcity.

How excellent are you at EVERY aspect of your business? How long can you afford to be less-than-excellent at any of them?

If you need more help growing your sales, may I recommend the I.P.A. (No, it's not a beer, but it still satisfies.)

Market like you mean it.
Now go sell something.

Your Best Day Ever