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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.

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Presentation on theme: "Mastering Wine Sales at the Table Ben Salisbury Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Ben Dewald The Collins College of Hospitality Management Cal Poly Pomona University."— Presentation transcript:

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

2 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. 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. 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. 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.

3 Ben Dewald Associate Professor at The Collins School of Hospitality Management at the California State Polytechnic University, (Cal Poly) Pomona. 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. Prior to joining The Collins School in 2002, Ben taught at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Hotel & Tourism Management. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Hotel & Tourism Management The Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Hotel & Tourism Management Trained in the Dutch, French and Mexican hospitality industry. 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. 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.Island Shangri-LaIsland Shangri-La Research interests include; Food & Beverage; Tipping; Training; Cross Cultural Management; Hotel & Restaurant Management; Tourism, and Educational Management. Research interests include; Food & Beverage; Tipping; Training; Cross Cultural Management; Hotel & Restaurant Management; Tourism, and Educational Management.

4 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. 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 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). The occasional wine drinker tends to like wine and might buy more of it if persuaded to do so (Moulton & Lapsley, 2001).

5 Beer/Spirits 30.6% Core 12.5% Marginal 13.9% Non-Drinkers 43.0% Source: Merrill Research & Associates (Percentages, ages 21 – Plus) Wine Consumer Segments U.S. Adults

6 Consumer Segments Source: Merrill Research & Associates (U.S. Adults, ages 21 – Plus) Core Wine Drinkers Marginal Wine Drinkers Beer/Spirits Drinkers Non-Drinkers TOTAL Millions % Sample % Volume

7 (Percentages by restaurant category) East - West Source: Merrill Research & Associates How Likely to Order Wine?

8 Order Wine in Casual Chain Restaurant? (Percentages by age group) East - West Source: Merrill Research & Associates

9 Wine Consumer Segments U.S. Adults – 2000 v CoreMarginal Beer/ Spirits Non-Drinker (Millions, ages 21 – Plus) Source: Merrill Research & Associates

10 Change in Consumer Segments 2000 – 2003 CoreMarginal Beer/ Spirits Non-Drinker 32% -2% 8% Source: Merrill Research & Associates

11 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. 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. 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. Laverick (2002) suggests smaller but smarter wine lists that provide value to bolster wine sales.

12 Why (I think) most wine training for servers fails: Too much information is taught that no one remembers. Too much information is taught that no one remembers. Too much emphasis on tasting wine and wine & food pairing. 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. 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. 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. 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. No transferable system that sustains a high level of wine sales month after month.

13 Teach servers five simple things: 1. How to know and understand six different styles of wine. 2. How to read your restaurant’s wine list as it relates to these styles. 3. How to initiate a conversation about wine at the table. 4. How to ask the guest powerful questions about their wine preferences. 5. How to make a wine recommendation that “sticks.”

14 Why this system works: It’s simple therefore it’s easy to learn and remember. 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 effective because it places the emphasis on selling not wine knowledge. It’s transferable which means it’s great for multi-unit applications. It’s transferable which means it’s great for multi-unit applications.

15 I truly believe the following: A server can tell you how: well a Ferrari handles even if he’s never driven one. well a Ferrari handles even if he’s never driven one. cold it is in Alaska even if she’s never been there. 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. rich and buttery a Chardonnay is even if he has never tasted it. smooth a Merlot is even if she hates red wine. smooth a Merlot is even if she hates red wine.

16 Six Styles of Wine 1. Light, fruity reds BeaujolaisGamay 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

17 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. 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.

18 5 Proven Ways to Initiate a Conversation About Wine 1. “Are (any of you / either of you) wine drinkers?” 2. “Have you seen our selection of wines by the glass?” 3. “Will you be ordering a bottle if wine this evening?” 4. “Are you familiar with our wine program?” 5. “Have you had a chance to look over our wine list?”

19 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?” “Do you like full-bodied reds or something on the lighter side?” “Are you a Cabernet drinker?” “Are you a Cabernet drinker?” If white: “Would you like something rich and full-flavored or something lighter and fruitier?” “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?” “Would you like to order a Chardonnay or something a little off the beaten path?”

20 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.

21 Other Tenets of Training System Servers must memorize these questions. Servers must memorize these questions. Servers must memorize the wine categories. 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). 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 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. 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 A server does not need to like wine in order to be able to sell wine

22 WARNING! This training system is designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to help multi-unit operators to sell more wine. If you are not happy with your current level of wine sales, you have come to the right place. This training system is designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to help multi-unit operators to sell more wine. 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. 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.

23 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. 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. I would choose sales training over wine knowledge every time, but if you have the ability to train both, you should definitely do so.

24 ASCEND a powerful new system for increasing wine sales in casual restaurants STIMSON LANE Vineyards & Estates

25 CONTENTS THE NEED Why Most Wine Training Fails Why Most Wine Training Fails The Special Needs of Multi-Unit, Casual Dining Operators The Special Needs of Multi-Unit, Casual Dining Operators Upselling is “Out,” Service is “In” Upselling is “Out,” Service is “In” THE SYSTEM The Ascend System Defined The Ascend System Defined The Ascend System – Dialogs The Ascend System – Dialogs How to Execute The Ascend System How to Execute The Ascend System Tips for Success Tips for Success THE TOOLS Training Sheet Training Sheet Wine Grid Wine Grid Help Help

26 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.

27 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.

28 THE SPECIAL NEEDS OF MULTI-UNIT CASUAL DINING OPERATORS Employee turnover is higher in casual dining. Employee turnover is higher in casual dining. Many servers are under the legal drinking age. Many servers are under the legal drinking age. Training hundreds of units requires a different system than training one or two units. Training hundreds of units requires a different system than training one or two units. Competition in casual dining is fierce. Competition in casual dining is fierce. Training programs need to be highly duplicable. Training programs need to be highly duplicable. Training programs must make very efficient use of time. Training programs must make very efficient use of time.

29 UPSELLING IS “OUT,” SERVICE IS “IN” Increased check averages should be the natural result of meeting guests’ needs. 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. 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.” 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. The real “art” of selling is finding out what people want and then helping them get it.

30 THE ASCEND SYSTEM DEFINED THE ASCEND SYSTEM -DIALOGS HOW TO EXECUTE THE ASCEND SYSTEM TIPS FOR SUCCESS

31 THE ASCEND SYSTEM DEFINED The Ascend System is designed to address and overcome the primary reasons why wine goes unsold in casual restaurants: 1. Servers are uncomfortable bringing up the subject of wine at the table. 2. 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.

32 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: 1. APPROACH… the table and bring up the subject of wine. 2. DISCOVER… what the guests’ wine preferences are (if any). 3. RECOMMEND… a wine that meets the guests’ preferences.

33 STEP 2: DISCOVER… “Would you prefer red or white wine tonight?” IF RED TRY: IF RED TRY: “Do you like full-bodied reds or something on the lighter side?” “Are you a Merlot drinker?” IF WHITE TRY: 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?”

34 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.”

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

36 HOW TO EXECUTE THE ASCEND SYSTEM 1. Schedule a server meeting. 2. Review with servers the “reasons why wine goes unsold in restaurants.” 3. Hand out the Wine Grid for your restaurant’s wines. 4. Briefly review the selection of wines your restaurant offers in terms of color, varietal and style. 5. Hand out the Ascend System training sheet. 6. Review the three steps of the Ascend System with the group. 7. Bring up several of your best servers to role-play in front of the group first. 8. 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.) 9. 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). 10. MAINTENANCE: Make sure new servers are introduced to the system and review with existing servers at least once per quarter.

37 TIPS FOR SUCCESS 1.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. 2.Role-playing is an essential element for the success of this system because it gives the server confidence. Do not skip over this part. 3.Any wine knowledge training that you choose to add will enhance the Ascend System, but it is not necessary. 4.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. 5.This system works best when wines on the menu are listed in ascending order of style, instead of by varietal.

38 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.

39 WINE GRID LightMediumFull B L U S H W H I T E R E D Fill in this chart with the wines on your list by putting each wine in the appropriate category.

40 HELP If you have any questions about putting together an Ascend training, or if you need additional materials or assistance, please call us at If you have any questions about putting together an Ascend training, or if you need additional materials or assistance, please call us at For more information about Stimson Lane Vineyards and Estates and our portfolio of award-winning wines, please visit our website at For more information about Stimson Lane Vineyards and Estates and our portfolio of award-winning wines, please visit our website at Thank you.

41 Wine Sites al_docs/Ascend-Web.pdf al_docs/Ascend-Web.pdf al_docs/Ascend-Web.pdf al_docs/Ascend-Web.pdf


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