The Merchant23 Blog

5 Consultative Wine Sales Questions

Sep 30, 2019 5:00:00 AM / by Cyrus Azari

wine sales decisions in the wine distribitor industry


Wine sales are more competitive then ever. Traditional sales methods are dying. To earn business now, you need to do better than good.  The first step to becoming better is being more of a consultant to your prospects. 


Your product needs to provide genuine value to your prospects. If you can understand what your prospect's problems are, you will be better able to position your product as the solution in a consultative manner. Understand who your buyer persona is for your products. Then, get to know them and understand them by asking questions. 


These are questions you can ask your target prospects to get a better feel of what their business struggles are. In doing so, you will help build rapport. Understand their pains and struggles and work with them to make a deal.


Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, an accomplished wine salesman, has a 3-minute video that encapsulates a lot of what I am saying here. 


1) What is your obstacle to growing your company?


Companies need growth to stay viable. A lot of the people you talk to out in the world haven't put a lot of thought into this question. By asking them such an open-ended, yet intelligence question, it allows you to understand better the company (always be consulting) and positions you to look like an expert without being pretentious. 


Depending on the persona (restaurant, retailer, resort, etc.) you are going to hear different problems. 


Here are some general follow up questions that can help further break the ice. 


1) What is your plan to fix the x problem?


2) Do you have a time limit to solve this problem?


3) Is it an easy or hard fix?


4) What kind of person do you have working on it? 


2) What's grinding your gears?


This question aims to get your prospect to open up a bit to you emotionally. Is there an operational issue? A lack of teamwork? Some obstacle to growth? You want your prospect to talk about what's plaguing them and their business. What is irritating them? 


It will allow you to build a more personal connection with them, and through that, you can see what their core problems are.


3) What's your biggest complaint? 


This is another opened ended question aimed at getting a broader idea of the business. The prospect can tell you a lot about their business from this! Maybe they tell you the walk-in cooler is having issues with the fans, and they couldn't afford to fix it because they didn't have enough money. Or maybe its toilet paper ran out, or maybe their customers steal the coffee straws all the time - anything the prospect says is a clue into how to win them over!


Now, lets flip the script. What about you? Don't think you are immune from questioning! 


Here are questions you might want to consider for yourself:


4) Why are we losing sales?


The market will dictate the value of the product! Its economics 101, yet so many times I hear of sellers refusing to budge on their pricing. It's worth what people want to pay for it! It doesn't matter how much Mozart you play to your grapes! It doesn't make the value absolute! 


It's not always just pricing. (but it usually is) Also take into consideration things like: Do you need to get plain old better at selling the product? Are your leads good? Are you set up for nurturing prospects? Do you have a customer relationship manager? (we recommend HubSpot)


Analyze what you can improve on and what is detrimental, and iterate towards perfection! 


5) Why did we not retain those customers?


Don't consider the story written and done once you close a deal. That's a budding blossom of a business relationship! When your customers start falling off, ask them why! Maybe your customer service is lousy, perhaps you're not checking up enough, it's perhaps just seasonal and they'll be back! 


Whatever it may be, you need to analyze and ask yourself to find the answers. If you're looking for a more in-depth strategy, take a look at our eBook on going with a winery direct strategy! 


Written by Cyrus Azari

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