Flow Wine Group In-store Professionalism

I have been to many events at stores where other people were also presenting wines. Quite often, I am amazed by their lack of professionalism. Therefore, I am writing this article to reinforce what our goals are at Flow Wine Group when we do events.

People who attend our events look to our wine consultants for having a good amount of knowledge about wine, especially the wines we are sampling. To that end, we need to earn their respect. We do that by dressing properly, being conversant about the wines we are sampling, and being courteous to our customers.

But we also need to earn the respect of our clients. After all, as Flow Wine Group Consultants, we are representing our clients. They hired us to speak for them, to present their wine and to increase their sales. We display professionalism which encompasses the following:

● Showing up early so that the event begins on time

● Respecting the rules in the store hosting our event

● Being prepared so that we can confidently interact with customers to help them learn about our wines

● Encouraging customers to buy our wines

● Engaging with the customers to ensure that they have a positive experience

As I mentioned, I have been to a number of events where I, unfortunately, have witnessed a lack of professionalism on the part of the other presenters. The last four times I did an event with another person sampling some other product, I noticed that they were late. For example, I just did an event at a local grocery store where the person was scheduled from 1-4pm. She showed up at 1:00 to set up and wasn’t talking with customers until 1:30. She did, however, have time to touch up her makeup and file her nails AT HER TABLE! Then she went over to a cheese display and loaded up a plate with samples she ate during her event. I was not surprised that during the two hours our events overlapped she only sold three bottles.

This person gives our trade a bad name. Unfortunately, many stores (and probably some distributors) tend not to respect people who do events. Flow Wine Group consultants get lumped in with others. At the end of a recent event I conducted, I put the unsold bottles back on the shelf and briefly spoke to the manager telling him how successful the event was. He thanked me and was surprised that I not only took the time to speak with him and provide a review of the event but that I put the unsold bottles back on the shelf. I was shocked. Of course I put the unsold bottles back. Who wouldn’t? When I mentioned that he said, “Oh, you would be surprised at how often it happens.”

This made me unhappy. In whatever I do, I strive to be the best, to do not just a good job but a better job. Yet it seems that others in our business often don’t care about doing a good job. Maybe they only want their paycheck.

I believe that we owe our clients more than just showing up on time and ending an event well. We represent their wines. We not only need to be well-informed about the wines we are sampling, but we should also be able to engage with customers who are eager to learn about our wines.

Quite often, I chat with people to find common ground. Sometimes I ask what they like to drink at home. Frequently they mention that they have been to such-and-such wine region and want to “show off” a bit on what they know.

That, to me, is great. And I let them tell me any story they like about their experiences. These people buy wine. I want to encourage them, to make them feel comfortable with me.

One technique I use often is to describe the flavor notes of a wine just as the customer is taking a taste. This reinforces what the customer is experiencing. They are tasting wine like a pro! “Oh yes, I do taste the citrus and feel the acidity,” or “Wow, the deep blackberry/black cherry flavor comes out and you are right, it is not overly tannic.”

This agreement gets them to more strongly consider buying a bottle. I tend to follow up with suggested food pairings or just sometimes joke that the featured wine “goes well with conversation.”

I agree with the customers about how they experience wine. It is their experience and they appreciate the confirmation from someone they see as a wine professional. Chatting with people and finding common ground is very important.

All of this said, it is imperative that Flow Wine Group consultants are fully versed on the wines we are sampling. Don’t be the person I once saw hold up a paper and read a script that tells about the wine. How tacky! I have even witnessed someone from another company put the the bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon in their ice bucket. And no, I am not kidding. I didn’t say a word and an onlooking store manager just rolled her eyes.

It is said that knowledge is power. So it seems that lack of knowledge is weakness. Our job is to strongly represent our clients with professionalism and proper knowledge of their product, conduct ourselves in a competent manner and work to establish confidence by our customers about our product.

Our customers rely on us.

Our clients rely on us.

It is our responsibility to let neither of them down.

By Neil Scott, Florida Team Leader

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