Welcome to WISE Academy Wednesday or #WISEwednesday! Each week, WISE Academy (Wine Industry Sales Education) will take over the Craft Beverage Jobs blog and will deliver relevant and important training information to help your craft beverage business (and your employees) thrive.
The tips and trainings provided here come straight from the WISE Academy curriculum and are intended to be actionable tips. Each week’s #WISEwednesday post will focus around on of the following categories related to Direct To Consumer sales and marketing:
- Silent Selling
Service: Do You Understand Your Customer?
The service aspect to craft beverage does not neatly fall into one applicable talking point. Winery and distillery tasting rooms may have more in common, but the tasting room experience at these facilities tends to be distinctly different than the experiences at craft brewery tasting rooms. This has to do with the function of a tasting room. Whereas wineries and distilleries often focus on providing small tastings with the hopes of selling bottles (or cases), visitors to breweries often come to enjoy the beer onsite, socialize, and may go home with a freshly filled growler.
Onsite consumption laws, however, vary in different states; wineries in California, for example, are starting to see the focus and function of their tasting rooms shift and they are now serving wine to be enjoyed onsite by the glass or bottle.
Given all this, when it comes time to think about your own business, how well do you know and understand your customer? We’re going to explore two varying concepts to help you figure that out.
The Buyer’s Continuum
Do you treat the person you have just been introduced to in the same way you treat your Mom? Well of course not, you reply, what a silly question. And yet, many craft beverage businesses do that very thing without even realizing it.
How you treat your customers depends on how well you understand who they are. Each visitor to your establishment needs to be assessed and their needs met accordingly.
The Buyer’s Continuum is a core marketing concept that begins with the premise that all guests or customers are not equal. In fact, each one is at a different stage in their relationship with your business. Some guests are customers you’ve just met. These are your prospects. At the other end of the continuum are your raving fans and brand ambassadors, just like (hopefully) your Mom. The rest are somewhere in between – your first time buyers are on the continuum after prospects while repeat buyers lead to your VIPs.
Our first job in the Tasting Room is to determine where each guest in front of us belongs along this Buyer’s Continuum through asking open-ended questions. Then, as in all good relationships, we seek to deliver what each guest needs in order to feel comfortable about moving to the next stage of the relationship. Prospects need to know that buying from you is a safe decision. First time buyers thrive on recognition. Repeat buyers expect you to understand their preferences. Brand ambassadors revel in respect and rewards.
As the relationship deepens over time, so does the customer’s loyalty and lifetime value to the winery. Understanding how to move your customers along the Buyer’s Continuum, from prospect to brand ambassador, is very, very WISE.
Positive Profiling – Are you listening?
Good sales people know that to sell, it’s more than a good presentation on your product. Great sales people know selling requires active listening.
Stop talking at your customer and create a dialog to talk with your customer. This builds relationships by creating engagement and trust. But, you can’t have a conversation without asking open-ended questions to understand more about your customer.
When you engage with your customers, you learn about their lives, the things they like to do, eat, drink…By asking questions, you can start to better understand their needs and start weaving the conversation towards craft beverage and the one that you have for sale that fits their lifestyle perfectly!
Research shows that we interact with many different types of buyers. To simplify, WISE put these buyer profiles into five main types. Each one of these groups has different psychological needs – and when these needs are met, they are ready and happy to buy.
- Ratings Junkies: live and die by ratings. They need to follow, but not just anyone. They need to follow someone that they are supposed to / and others clearly respect like a celebrity endorsement, winemaker favorite or it’s on a high profile restaurant list
- Value Buyers: looking for a special value. Focus could be on the lowest price offerings in our portfolio or it could be a special sale or significant savings on our highest priced products. Either way they are looking for a “deal.”
- Advice Seekers: looking for consultation. These guys are not beginners; they want to learn, but don’t have enough experience / confidence to go it alone. They want, need their hand held, so give them the advice they are so clearly seeking.
- Know-it-alls: looking for an audience – or a debate. Yes, they have lots of ego. They need an audience. So you need to play that role. Don’t take it personally. Let them show off what they know. Whatever you do, and no matter how tempting – don’t get into a contest with them. You may win the battle (i.e. have the right answer on something) but lose the war (i.e. sale or club membership).
- Newbies: don’t know where to start. This is the most common group. They are ones who look nervous, feel intimidated, lost or confused. Best thing you can do is put them at ease. Play off of what they know and build their confidence. Keep it simple, be sincere, and go slowly. Remind them to buy what they like – tastes are subjective!
When you understand the buyer’s profile, you can identify their needs and motivations and tailor your pitch accordingly. The power of positive profiling (rather than pre-judging) is not only that it leads to more sales, but also customer satisfaction is actually much higher because they feel that they had a unique experience, tailored to their preferences.
What type of customer is in front of you? Are you asking enough questions to know? Are you listening and adjusting your presentation accordingly?
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