During this weak economy, lack of sales seems to be a common complaint from wineries across the country. Wineries need to sharpen their selling skills and brush up on customer engagement techniques to make each visitor a loyal and satisfied customer. Follow these six simple steps and watch sales grow and customer satisfaction increase.

1. Tasting room staff are your secret weapon. Hire nice people and teach them your story. Train employees to be naturally friendly and helpful.  By empowering staff to make customer pleasing decisions, treating employees with respect and providing rewards for a job well done, you will have happy employees and therefore happy customers

2. Go the extra mile and give customers something they don’t expect. Exceeding expectations makes customers think, “Wow, I feel special.” There are countless ways to go the extra mile.  For example,  charge $5 to taste six wines or give customers an extra sample or two because your wine won a gold medal at the State Fair.  Or offer another tasting because it is the first day of fall or because it is Halloween or your birthday or their birthday.  There’s always an opportunity to do something extra to impress customers.

3. Make it easy to buy your wine. I am mystified by tasting rooms that have their wine bottles hidden behind the counter or on a shelf behind the counter. Consumers are “touchy feely” and they want to see the bottle and touch it before they buy. If your staff can casually chat and put the bottle in their hands, statistically your bottle sales will increase 70% (Ohio Wine Producers.) If your tasting room is large, display wine case stacks, featured wines or gift items you want to promote in high traffic areas. This encourages customers to stop and take notice of an item. Statistically, sales of prominently placed products will increase 10-40% (Ohio Wine Producers.)

Hermannhof Winery Tasting Room

Tasting Room at Hermannhof Winery in Hermann, Missouri

4. Ask for the sale. Tasting room staff have an opportunity to engage the customer while serving samples. Develop a relationship by asking questions and really pay attention to customer’s answers. Pay attention to the guest’s preferences and comments.  Then suggest other wines they might like to take home with the wines they selected.

At the end of the tasting, tasting room staff should mention special promotions, case discounts, and wine club membership opportunities. Asking customers “What were your favorite wines?” or saying “You have selected three of my four favorite wines”  invites customer engagement.  Often customers will respond by inquiring about the tasting room employee’s “fourth favorite wine” and including it with their purchase. Why? Because the customer was engaged and now trusts the winery’s opinions.

5. Invest in your current satisfied customers. It costs less to retain a current customer than to find a new customer. Satisfied customers can become your ambassadors and create the best kind of word of mouth marketing.

Work hard to keep your best customers happy. If they visit your winery once a month and spend $50 per visit, that adds up to $600 per year. If  your best customers bring their friends and the friends spend $50 per visit (wine and food) and then they return with more friends for another visit, you can see how the dollars add up.   Investing in that first satisfied customer can increase sales exponentially.

There are many ways to reward these loyal customers; special vineyard or winery tours, private tastings for a group of six, invitations to winemaker events or an offer for a two for one tasting during their next visit (for a limited time.)

6. Stay in touch. Collect email addresses to stay connected and to let customers know about sales and special events. Not everyone wants another email newsletter in their inbox, but you can be creative and give customers something of value for signing up. For example, St. James Winery in Missouri sends a Wine and Food pairing guide when people sign up for their email newsletter.

Perfect Pairing Guide for Wine and Food

St. James Winery’s Wine and Food Pairing Guide

The takeaway here is that to increase tasting room sales, the key  is customer engagement. Remember, satisfied customers are loyal fans who buy more and will return to your tasting room. Follow these steps and watch your tasting room revenue increase dramatically.

For more tasting room sales techniques please call me at 314-795-9770 or email me at patty@pattyheldconsulting.com.