When traffic is down, it’s important to make the most of every single guest walking through our door. While most wineries are hiring friendly staff with strong service hearts, sales skills continue to be an area of opportunity for our industry. Many people worry that selling wine is too pushy, others don’t even realize it’s in the job description! So how do we get our team to bring in more revenue?
Step one, of course, is to get all of our staff to ASK FOR THE SALE.
You’ve heard us preach about the WISE Triple Score (some of you have even joined the choir), but our 2022 mystery shopping data shows us that as an industry, we are only asking for the sale 67% of the time (down from 73% in 2021). We are only giving ourselves a 67% chance to make money (you didn’t think the money was in the tasting fees, did you?) and leaving 33% of it on the table.
Our guests want to buy wine. Helpful sales shouldn’t be pushy – it should be an extension of great hospitality. We have to get our team comfortable asking for the sale with every taster.
WISE TIP: If your team is asking for the sale, the next step is to get rid of the passive or limited asks. Point out wines you notice they enjoy and try to sell bottles (or better yet, cases), rather than a bottle.
Step two – drop sales seeds along the way.
If our team is asking for the sale, the next step is to start making those asks more successful. By dropping seeds along the way, we are encouraging the guests right from the beginning with reasons that they should be thinking about what they want to buy, rather than putting them on the spot at the last minute.
If they purchase xx number of bottles, do you waive the tasting fee? If so, have the team plant that idea in the beginning of the experience as ‘housekeeping’ so people start thinking about WHAT they’re going to buy, not IF.
Same rules apply to the club. If they sign up today, do they get a discount? If so, bring up the club as early as possible and let them know that club signups and wine purchases lead to benefits to them!
WISE TIP: Try “are you in our wine club?” even if you know the answer, as a subtle first seed, in your greeting. Drop more seeds as appropriate throughout the tasting and end with a direct invitation to join.
Before someone new to sales tries dropping sales seeds, it may seem like a tough ask, but it doesn’t take long to realize that this strategy actually makes asking for the sale at the end easier. The ask is more natural and the guests reactions will be more “of course” and less “ehh, no thanks – just a tasting today.”
Step three – bring up the Average Order Value (AOV).
In a perfect world, we want to sell cases, not bottles. Or at least bottles, not a bottle (or worse yet, just the tasting fees). Helpful sales start with building rapport, noticing buying signals, and tailoring the experience to the guest. With that in mind, how do we increase that AOV? Here are some ideas:
- If you have bottle carriers (2, 4 or 6 bottle bags or case boxes), have the staff remark to the guests that there are ‘holes’ in the bag that they may want to fill, or that there are room for more friends, or something along those lines to get to fill the bags/shippers up. Early in the tasting you can get a feel for their purchase allowance by asking “I noticed you like that wine. I have an empty case box here – would you like me to start filling it now?”
- Challenge the staff to remember the guests’ favorite wines / have them make notations on the price list or order form and see if they can help the guests remember all the wines they liked so that they can pick which ones they want to take home. Feel free to set aside the wines they like along the way – this will make checkout quick and easy.
- Along those lines, if you have labels or other collateral to help guests remember which wines they liked, it’s easier to make the sale that way – or leave a bottle on the table so the guest can see which ones lined up that they tried and liked.
- Put together suggested wine packs for ease of purchase. For example if you’re trying to up your bottle number from 2 to 3, have 3-packs of different themes ready to go in the tasting room. “Spring Fling”, “Date Night” etc. If they turn down that case box you mentioned in the beginning, “no problem, how about one of our Spring Fling 3-packs? You can customize it with the wines of your choice – I’ll set aside what you like along the way and see where we end up.”
- If guests are out of the area, if you have shipping specials, like flat rate shipping at 6 bottles, or one penny shipping with a case, make sure there is collateral for guests and the staff to plant the suggestions of getting wine home easily. The feature of a shipping promotion could be a benefit for anyone visiting from out of town.
- If guests are flying home, ask which airline to plant suggestions for the ‘excuse’ to purchase more. Alaska ships a case of wine for free. Southwest ships two bags for free. There could be opportunity to upsell some merchandise too if you have anything “shipping” or “packaging” in the shop.
We can’t control the traffic, but we can set up our teams for success by giving them the tools, training and resources to extend that awesome hospitality they are giving to include a brand-appropriate and natural sales close.