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If you can’t answer that question, selling becomes much harder.

While reading through lots of journals, articles and online information about sales and customer service, I came across this article by Ken Dooley. He posed this question in an article I read.

The premise is that many salespeople have mistaken beliefs about what customers want. If the salesperson does not ask customers about their needs and wants, they are less likely to sell their products, as they may be presenting the wrong information.

According to Mr. Dooley: “A recent survey shows salespeople rated price and relationships as critical, while buyers listed both well down their priority list. Many buyers placed more emphasis on quality, on-time deliveries and customer service.

If you were asked about what your customers were looking for, what would your answers be? What do you believe are the most popular reasons why people buy? What do you think is of least importance to your customers?

Send out a short survey to your customers asking them what the most important things to them are when purchasing wine. Then compare the answers from your sales staff and managers and see how closely they match. Without a match it is going to be tougher to make the sale.

Additionally, it is important to remember that people’s needs and wants change. Keeping up with the changes allows you to focus your messages on what is important to your customers.

Don’t make assumptions. Give the customers time to tell you want they want. “Many salespeople tend to talk too much.” While the customers are talking let them know that you are listening and understanding their wants and needs.

“Use body language, nod your head or use phrases such as “I understand”, “I see” or say a few words to confirm you are interested.”

In the wine business I believe things are a little different. Wineries will have a percentage of customers who are looking to have a personal relationship with the winery owners, managers and staff. However, this relationship is built up over time. Once customers start coming back regularly, make sure the relationship is steadily deepening. Discover their wants and needs and add them into the conversation. “I know you enjoy less (or more) fruit forward wines

A tip of the glass from me to you.

Elizabeth SlaterE Column
by Elizabeth “E” Slater, In Short Direct Marketing

A recognized expert in the fields of direct marketing and sales in the wine marketplace. Slater has taught more wineries and winery associations how to create and improve the effectiveness of their direct marketing programs and to make the most of each customer’s potential than anyone in the wine industry today.

Follow E on twitter @esavant and facebook.

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