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Mastering Wine Sales at the Table. Ben Salisbury Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Ben Dewald The Collins College of Hospitality Management Cal Poly Pomona University. Ben Salisbury.

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mastering wine sales at the table

Mastering Wine Sales at the Table

Ben SalisburySte. Michelle Wine Estates

Ben Dewald

The Collins College of Hospitality Management

Cal Poly Pomona University

ben salisbury
Ben Salisbury
  • Ben Salisbury is a twenty-year veteran of the wine business and for the last seven years has been the Vice President of Global Account Development for Ste Michelle Wine Estates; a Woodinville, Washington based wine company.
  • Stimson Lane, a pioneer of winemaking in Washington State, produces and markets a broad portfolio of premium wines from acclaimed vineyards around the world.
    • The Ste Michelle portfolio includes Chateau Ste Michelle, Columbia Crest, Domaine Ste Michelle, Northstar, Snoqualmie, and Col Solare from Washington; Conn Creek and Villa Mt Eden from Napa Valley California.
ben dewald
Ben Dewald
  • Associate Professor at The Collins School of Hospitality Management at the California State Polytechnic University, (Cal Poly) Pomona.
  • Prior to joining The Collins School in 2002, Ben taught at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Hotel & Tourism Management.
  • Trained in the Dutch, French and Mexican hospitality industry.
  • Managed and opened restaurants in California and Hong Kong, including the Chardonnay at the Registry Hotel across from the Orange County Airport, Antoine Restaurant at the Meridien Hotel in Newport Beach, the Dining Room at the Rancho Mirage Ritz-Carlton, and the Pétrus restaurant on the 56th floor of the Island Shangri-La in Hong Kong.
  • Research interests include; Food & Beverage; Tipping; Training; Cross Cultural Management; Hotel & Restaurant Management; Tourism, and Educational Management.
wine consumer
Wine Consumer
  • Core wine drinkers, those who drink wine weekly or more often, represent just 12.5 % of all U.S. adults, they consume 86 % of the wine.
  • The remaining 14 % of wine consumption is accounted for by the 13.9 % of adults who are marginal wine drinkers, those who drink wine less often than weekly but at least 2-3 times a month and like wine.
  • The occasional wine drinker tends to like wine and might buy more of it if persuaded to do so (Moulton & Lapsley, 2001).
slide5

Wine Consumer Segments U.S. Adults - 2003

(Percentages, ages 21 – Plus)

Core 12.5%

Non-Drinkers 43.0%

Marginal 13.9%

Beer/Spirits 30.6%

Source: Merrill Research & Associates

consumer segments
Consumer Segments

(U.S. Adults, ages 21 – Plus)

%Sample

Millions

% Volume

Source: Merrill Research & Associates

how likely to order wine
How Likely to Order Wine?

(Percentages by restaurant category)

East - West

82

77

61

44

45

42

Source: Merrill Research & Associates

order wine in casual chain restaurant
Order Wine in Casual Chain Restaurant?

(Percentages by age group)

East - West

53

52

46

46

43

39

39

38

37

29

Source: Merrill Research & Associates

wine consumer segments u s adults 2000 v 2003
Wine Consumer Segments U.S. Adults – 2000 v. 2003

87.4

80.8

(Millions, ages 21 – Plus)

63.5

62.2

28.8

28.2

25.4

19.2

Core

Marginal

Non-Drinker

Beer/ Spirits

Source: Merrill Research & Associates

change in consumer segments 2000 2003
Change in Consumer Segments 2000 – 2003

32%

8%

-2%

-2%

Core

Marginal

Non-Drinker

Beer/ Spirits

Source: Merrill Research & Associates

selling wine
Selling Wine
  • During the on-going recession, many restaurant operators are struggling and the days of customers buying $100 bottles of wine is over, at least for the foreseeable future.
  • One point is clear, however, ignoring the potential of your wine program in tough times is a mistake.
  • Laverick (2002) suggests smaller but smarter wine lists that provide value to bolster wine sales.
why i think most wine training for servers fails
Why (I think) most wine training for servers fails:
  • Too much information is taught that no one remembers.
  • Too much emphasis on tasting wine and wine & food pairing.
  • Either the trainer knows a lot about wine but only little about table service or vice versa.
  • Very few “wine people” know anything at all about training techniques.
  • Trainers spend too much time trying to make servers interested and knowledgeable about wine instead of teaching them how to just sell it.
  • No transferable system that sustains a high level of wine sales month after month.
teach servers five simple things
Teach servers five simple things:
  • How to know and understand six different styles of wine.
  • How to read your restaurant’s wine list as it relates to these styles.
  • How to initiate a conversation about wine at the table.
  • How to ask the guest powerful questions about their wine preferences.
  • How to make a wine recommendation that “sticks.”
why this system works
Why this system works:
  • It’s simple therefore it’s easy to learn and remember.
  • It’s effective because it places the emphasis on selling not wine knowledge.
  • It’s transferable which means it’s great for multi-unit applications.
i truly believe the following
I truly believe the following:

A server can tell you how:

  • well a Ferrari handles even if he’s never driven one.
  • cold it is in Alaska even if she’s never been there.
  • rich and buttery a Chardonnay is even if he has never tasted it.
  • smooth a Merlot is even if she hates red wine.
six styles of wine
1. Light, fruity reds

Beaujolais

Gamay

Most Pinot Noir

2. Medium, smooth reds

Some Pinot Noir

Most Merlot

Some Cabernet

3. Full, tannic reds

Some Merlot

Most Cabernet

Most Bordeaux

Most Rhone

4. Light, fruity whites and blush

Riesling

German wines

White Zinfandel

5. Medium, fruity whites

Some Chardonnay

Some Sauvignon Blanc

6. Full, dry whites

Most Chardonnay

Some Sauvignon Blanc

Six Styles of Wine
slide17
This list is oversimplified for illustrative purposes. Of course, if your wine list warrants it, we would plug in Italian, Chilean, Australian, and other French appellations as well.
5 proven ways to initiate a conversation about wine
5 Proven Ways to Initiate a Conversation About Wine
  • “Are (any of you / either of you) wine drinkers?”
  • “Have you seen our selection of wines by the glass?”
  • “Will you be ordering a bottle if wine this evening?”
  • “Are you familiar with our wine program?”
  • “Have you had a chance to look over our wine list?”
qualify what the guest wants by asking these powerful questions
Qualify What the Guest Wants by Asking These Powerful Questions

“Would you prefer red or white wine?”

If red:

  • “Do you like full-bodied reds or something on the lighter side?”
  • “Are you a Cabernet drinker?”

If white:

  • “Would you like something rich and full-flavored or something lighter and fruitier?”
  • “Would you like to order a Chardonnay or something a little off the beaten path?”
how to make a recommendation that sticks
How to Make a Recommendation that “Sticks”

TECHNIQUE #1 (The “Comforter” Close):

“If you like ______ , you would probably enjoy the ______ .”

TECHNIQUE #2 (The “In-Crowd” Close):

“We serve a lot of the ___________. It is ____________.”

TECHNIQUE #3 (The “Endorsement” Close):

“I really enjoy the ______________. It is ______________.”

**VERY IMPORTANT: After making your recommendation, keep quiet, let the guest answer, don’t try to bail them out by giving them another minute or by making more suggestions.

other tenets of training system
Other Tenets of Training System
  • Servers must memorizethese questions.
  • Servers must memorize the wine categories.
  • Servers must memorize several wines from the wine list in each of the six categories (preferably at different price points).
  • It is not necessary to taste any of the wines to be able to describe them. This is an advanced skill.
  • It is not necessary to know what wines go with which foods. Most people will drink what they like no matter what they’re eating.
  • A server does not need to like wine in order to be able to sell wine
warning
WARNING!
  • This training system is designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to help multi-unit operators to sellmorewine. If you are not happy with your current level of wine sales, you have come to the right place.
  • Do not worry about your servers being too “pushy.” If trained properly in the use of these techniques, your staff will become extremely adept at pleasing your customers by skillfully helping them select a wine they will enjoy.
wine knowledge
Wine Knowledge
  • There is no question that you can improve the results of this training program dramatically by adding a solid foundation of wine knowledge. Staff turnover, varying levels of wine knowledge in your management staff, however, can make this a difficult goal to achieve. The sales training is easy to teach and easy to learn.
  • I would choose sales training over wine knowledge every time, but if you have the ability to train both, you should definitely do so.
ascend

ASCEND

a powerful new system for increasing

wine sales in casual restaurants

STIMSON LANE

Vineyards & Estates

contents
CONTENTS

THE NEED

• Why Most Wine Training Fails

• The Special Needs of Multi-Unit, Casual Dining Operators

• Upselling is “Out,” Service is “In”

THE SYSTEM

• The Ascend System Defined

• The Ascend System – Dialogs

• How to Execute The Ascend System

• Tips for Success

THE TOOLS

• Training Sheet

• Wine Grid

• Help

why most wine training fails
WHY MOST WINE TRAINING FAILS

TOO MUCH EMPHASIS ON "WINE KNOWLEDGE“ Truly understanding wine takes a great deal of time! Wine is NOT a simple subject, it takes many, many hours to learn.

THE MATERIAL IS TOO COMPLEX, TOO MUCH INFORMATION Most wine training is "boring" because too much information is presented at one time.

FALSELY ASSUMES ONLY "WINE PEOPLE" CAN DO THE TRAINING Simple wine sales techniques can be taught by anyone, regardless of their wine knowledge.

why most wine training fails27
WHY MOST WINE TRAINING FAILS

PRE-SCRIPTED "WINE DESCRIPTIONS" ARE NOT THE ANSWER Most servers don’t take the time to memorize them and even if they did, the descriptions are useless if the server doesn’t understand the terminology.

WINE VENDORS AND DISTRIBUTORS ARE NOT ALWAYS EXPERIENCED "TRAINERS“ Effective training is no accident. Casual operators know this.

TOO MUCH EMPHASIS ON "WINE AND FOOD PAIRING“ In casual dining, the reality is that people order the food they like and the drink they like. That’s it. If you must train on this, keep it as simple as possible.

the special needs of multi unit casual dining operators
THE SPECIAL NEEDSOF MULTI-UNIT CASUAL DINING OPERATORS
  • Employee turnover is higher in casual dining.
  • Many servers are under the legal drinking age.
  • Training hundreds of units requires a different system than training one or two units.
  • Competition in casual dining is fierce.
  • Training programs need to be highly duplicable.
  • Training programs must make very efficient use of time.
upselling is out service is in
UPSELLING IS “OUT,” SERVICE IS “IN”
  • Increased check averages should be the natural result of meeting guests’ needs.
  • You can’t give the guest what they want if you don’t know what they want.
  • Servers don’t like to “sell” and guests don’t like being “sold.”
  • The real “art” of selling is finding out what people want and then helping them get it.
slide30
THE ASCEND SYSTEM DEFINED

THE ASCEND SYSTEM -DIALOGS

HOW TO EXECUTE THE ASCEND SYSTEM

TIPS FOR SUCCESS

the ascend system defined
THE ASCEND SYSTEM DEFINED

The Ascend System is designed to address and overcome the primary reasons why wine goes unsold in casual restaurants:

  • Servers are uncomfortable bringing up the subject of wine at the table.
  • Customers may lack confidence in their own wine knowledge, and in the absence of assistance from the server, may not order any wine at all.
slide32

Instead of squandering valuable training time trying to teach servers wine knowledge and food and wine pairing, the Ascend System focuses on teaching servers how to:

  • APPROACH…

the table and bring up the subject of wine.

  • DISCOVER…

what the guests’ wine preferences are (if any).

  • RECOMMEND…

a wine that meets the guests’ preferences.

step 2 discover
STEP 2: DISCOVER…

“Would you prefer red or white wine tonight?”

  • IF RED TRY:

“Do you like full-bodied reds or something on the lighter side?”

“Are you a Merlot drinker?”

  • IF WHITE TRY:

“Would you like something rich and full-flavored or something lighter and fruitier?

“Would you like to order a Chardonnay or something a little off the beaten path?”

step 3 recommend
STEP 3: RECOMMEND…

TECHNIQUE #1 (The “Comforter” Close):

“If you like ______ , you would probably enjoy the ______ .”

TECHNIQUE #2 (The “In-Crowd” Close):

“We serve a lot of the ___________. It is ____________.”

TECHNIQUE #3 (The “Endorsement” Close):

“I really enjoy the ______________. It is ______________.”

TECHNIQUE #4 (The “Puppy Dog” Close):

“If you don’t like it, I’ll be happy to bring you something else.”

very important
*VERY IMPORTANT:
  • After making your recommendation, keep quiet. Let the guest answer.
  • Don’t try to bail them out by giving them another minute or by making more suggestions.
how to execute the ascend system
HOW TO EXECUTE THE ASCEND SYSTEM
  • Schedule a server meeting.
  • Review with servers the “reasons why wine goes unsold in restaurants.”
  • Hand out the Wine Grid for your restaurant’s wines.
  • Briefly review the selection of wines your restaurant offers in terms of color, varietal and style.
  • Hand out the Ascend System training sheet.
  • Review the three steps of the Ascend System with the group.
  • Bring up several of your best servers to role-play in front of the group first.
  • Then make sure EVERYONE gets a chance to role play. (If the group is large, break them up into two or three smaller groups and assign a leader.)
  • Chart the progress of each server in glasses of wine sold per cover (not dollars, because you will be putting the emphasis on check average instead of the number of satisfied guests).
  • MAINTENANCE: Make sure new servers are introduced to the system and review with existing servers at least once per quarter.
tips for success
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
  • Done correctly, the seminar to train Ascend should not take more than one hour and it can be completed in as little as 30 minutes.
  • Role-playing is an essential element for the success of this system because it gives the server confidence. Do not skip over this part.
  • Any wine knowledge training that you choose to add will enhance the Ascend System, but it is not necessary.
  • Recognize that no matter how well or often you train, 80% of your wine sales will always come from 20% of your servers. There is no perfect world.
  • This system works best when wines on the menu are listed in ascending order of style, instead of by varietal.
training sheet
TRAINING SHEET

STEP 1: APPROACH…

“Do we have any wine drinkers at the table?”

“So, who’s the wine expert here?”

“Have you seen our selection of wines by the glass?”

“Are you familiar with our wine program?”

“Have you had a chance to look over our wine list?”

STEP 2: DISCOVER…

“Would you prefer red or white wine tonight?”

IF RED TRY:

“Do you like full-bodied reds or something on the lighter side?”

“Are you a Merlot drinker?”

IF WHITE TRY:

“Would you like something rich and full-flavored or something lighter and fruitier?

“Would you like to order a Chardonnay or something a little off the beaten path?”

STEP 3: RECOMMEND…

TECHNIQUE #1 (The “Comforter” Close):

“If you like ______________ , you would probably enjoy the ______________ .”

TECHNIQUE #2 (The “In-Crowd” Close):

“We serve a lot of the ______________. It is ______________.”

TECHNIQUE #3 (The “Endorsement” Close):

“I really enjoy the ______________. It is ______________.”

TECHNIQUE #4 (The “Puppy Dog” Close):

“If you don’t like it, I’ll be happy to bring you something else.”

*VERY IMPORTANT: After making your recommendation, keep quiet. Let the guest answer.

Don’t try to bail them out by giving them another minute or by making more suggestions.

wine grid
WINE GRID

Fill in this chart with the wines on your list by putting each wine in the appropriate category.

slide40
HELP
  • If you have any questions about putting together an Ascend training, or if you need additional materials or assistance, please call us at 1-888-887-7457.
  • For more information about Stimson Lane Vineyards and Estates and our portfolio of award-winning wines, please visit our website at www.stimson-lane.com

Thank you.

wine sites
Wine Sites
  • http://winemarketcouncil.com/index.asp
  • http://www.aboutwines.com/
  • http://www.wineanswers.com/
  • http://www.vine2wine.com/
  • http://www.erobertparker.com/
  • http://www.globalaccounts.net/CA_additional_docs/Ascend-Web.pdf
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