Why We Hardly Take The Road Less Travelled – An Easy Primer on Collecting Wine.

I’ve taken a long time away from writing on this blog because I thought I couldn’t say what I wanted without going really deep into what I do for a living. Someone smart told me that doesn’t matter if I add value to the people in my network. If you don’t know what I do, I am sure you can dig up enough research online. My purpose remains the same: I give people access to the best that life has to offer – particularly wines and spirits.

As a luxury professional specializing in the wine & spirits vertical, I have a strong talent for helping clients procure very expensive wines, which they don’t typically desire until they get to try them with me. Well, I can humbly tell you it’s not because of my looks and charm (that only worked on my wife… thank God she liked what I was selling). It’s because I have a very unique way of presenting rare wines and spirits – I tell stories and help my clients make memories.

My approach stems from a belief that most, if not all people, hate disappointment and failure. Think about it! Who wakes up in the morning and says “today I’m looking forward to failing?” Probably only the rare few that understand that failure is a pit stop on the way to success. However, most of us (even myself at times) dread failure, and its hard to coax ourselves out of those mental prisons that prevent us from fulfilling our potential, expressing true affection or a fashion sense, and even drinking good wine.

In the same way, many collectors hate failing when it comes to selecting wine for their palates and cellars. That’s why most consumers rarely “roll the dice” on a bottle of wine from an unknown producer, even if the wine is made from a varietal they like. They would rather buy the wine recommended by someone else (whose palate and preferences may sometimes differ from theirs).

So most often than not, they rely on the advice and selections from wine professionals like me. It’s unfortunate that I have to say this, but I think many wine pros focus so much on selling the brands that we represent, without any real consideration for where our clients are in their wine journey. We should be working on selling an experience and creating a memory they can remember and associate with our brands for the rest of their lives.

A better way to think about this is real estate.

So imagine you are an agent for a client looking for a three bedroom – two bath home on a half acre plot. Your client knows exactly what they want and probably how much they would like to pay (they might not know how much they will have to pay). Most agents would try their best to find exactly what the client wants.

I take a different approach.

dlp_5166 Edit

I peel back the client’s expressed needs and expectations to identify their unexpressed desires. I “walk the block” with the client from where they are to show them where “they might want to be in the future.” As a result, I will show my client the five bedroom – three bath home on 10 acres with a little woodshed for him/her to make that custom furniture piece they’ve been trying to produce in their spare time. I don’t do that because I think they should buy a more expensive property. I do it because I want them to have a glimpse of an alternate future. I want to give them something to look forward to, so I capture them with a possible expression of their innate dreams. I may end up selling the customer exactly what they wanted to begin with – but guess who they rely on when they want to fulfil their ultimate vision…me!

We aren’t just chasing the status and social confirmation that our bank accounts and material possessions afford us. We are chasing the memories that make our lives rich and meaningful. Give your clients more than they ask for… give them all they could possibly want and help them build a vision for the future. I guarantee they’ll stick with you because you help them make memories.

I’ve ranted and gone around the block a couple times, but that’s consultative selling in a nutshell.

PS: I had a lot of fun writing this post. I hope you enjoyed reading it. Drink some good wine with someone you admire after this and I’m sure you’ll understand why I do my job so well. Today, someone whose mind I greatly admire received the Nobel Prize for his work in the field of Behavioral Economics. Irrational behavior and animal spirits are everywhere…. even in luxury and the business of alcohol.

Advertisements

A New Lens on Sustainability: The Triple Bottom Line in the Luxury Sector

By Renee delCastillo, MBA 2013 @ The College of William and Mary

The business world is not just about reaching potential, it is about redesigning it. In modern business environments, success is no longer measured in the bottom line of the income statement, but a triple bottom line: people, planet and profit.  While the luxury sector is more immune to small economic downturns, the prolonged effects of recent global financial crisis have made all consumers (including buyers of luxury goods and services) more cautious of the social and environmental impacts of their purchasing decisions.

Continue reading

Yao Ming Launches Wine Brands

30-day Challenge – Day 27

I’m not much of a sports fan, but I couldn’t help but notice recent stories about the former Houston Rockets star, Yao Ming, releasing a line of luxury wines in his native China. Continue reading

Fine Wines and Luxurious Accommodations in Virginia

Luxury and Retail Club members with Kristen Duffeler (5th from left)

Pictures

Last Friday (10/28/11) the Luxury and Retail Club (at The Mason School of Business) went on a company visit to The Williamsburg Winery and Wedmore Place located at 5800 Wessex Hundred, Williamsburg, VA. As a club, we thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to sample wines from the largest winery in the state of Virginia; and see the luxurious accommodations at a European style hotel. We also found out more about the hospitality, and the wine & spirits business segments. Our itinerary for the day included: a tour of Wedmore Place with Kristen Duffeler (GM of Wedmore Place and In-house Counsel for The Williamsburg Winery); a tour of The Williamsburg Winery with Courtney Darden (Assistant VP of Marketing, The Williamsburg Winery); and a Q&A session with the Patrick Duffeler I (family patriarch and founder of The Williamsburg Winery and Wedmore Place) and Patrick Duffeler II (current President & COO of The Williamsburg Winery).

Continue reading