Buying wine is a pretty complex decision for some of our liquor store customers. These are the people who are new to wine, or only drink occasionally. So we want to cut off the awkward part of buying wine. We do that by offering information in a variety of ways. It’s a specialized form of teaching.
Even asking these folks questions about wine can be intimidating for them, because it’s like asking them to show what they don’t know. No one likes to look foolish. That’s why we ask predictive questions. To find out how dry of a wine they may like, we ask, “Do you sweeten your iced tea?” If they don’t, they probably can take a drier wine. And that’s much less intimidating than, “Do you like dry wine?” for someone who doesn’t know what dry means in wine.
For those too shy to ask us for help, we offer self-serve information. Every wine shelf has a label with the varietal, the level of dryness, the amount of body, food pairings and serving temperature. We even include a one or two word description, like “rich” or “juicy” with a picture to help them imagine a flavor. And we manage to do that in a simple format, consistent on each shelf.
You have customers, both online and in person, who are new to your subject. How can you educate them? Think of your services or products like a retail store. How can you create predictive questions that help you find out more about them in a nonthreatening way?
How can you label or describe what you do that makes it easy to fathom? Can you use a picture or icon to make it clear? Have some fun with it!
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Deb Brown says
Excellent piece – and great advice. Love the question about ice tea!
Becky McCray says
Thanks, Deb. My mom came up with that one originally.
Jason Hull says
The great service providers are the ones who can, when I do not approach them, tell the difference between me not wanting to interact with them because I want to browse on my own and not wanting to interact with them because I’m too embarrassed to admit I don’t know the difference between Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Sometimes a customer comes into the store knowing what they want, but sometimes, you have to create the unknown need (“oh…I might like this blend of wine!”) through education before you can get a sale. Even though the customer is right, you can’t assume that the customer knows everything.
Thanks for reminding us business owners of that subtlety!
Becky McCray says
Thank you, Jason. It’s a tough balance, isn’t it?
Michael Jones says
Brilliant and elegant. You and your mom rock! Do you know how much big companies pay for insights and ideas like that? Eat your heart out, Vaynerchuk.