The Grapevine

Wine Shop Conversation Starters

January 17th, 2017

Is “Can I Help You?” the absolute worst opening line in the retail world? Probably. [level-members]

And that’s because the answer, 99 times out of a 100, is, “No, just looking.”

If you’re experience doesn’t mirror that, congratulations. Keep asking that question – there’s no reason to mess with what works. But for the rest of us, is there any reason in the world NOT to be looking a more productive alternative?

Let’s be clear – ignoring people as they walk in to your wine shop is a bad idea. But greeting them in a way that immediately gets their defenses up is going to be worse.

The better idea is to generally friendly without forcing a transactional conversation of any kind. Then look for the signals that there might be more interest and, instead of immediately zeroing in on the transaction, transition in that direction by going from generally friendly to friendly but on topic. As in, mentioning the article you were just reading about [insert whatever wine or region or varietal or whatever is on your mind].

Of course, you don’t want to get caught out in staging these conversations. So you can’t have a go-to conversation that you use every time a stranger walks in the door. You do genuinely have to have something fresh to talk about, and that should run the range from different wine types to great food and wine pairings you’ve had to industry gossip that might be interesting to a consumer to great wine travel ideas.

Make your shop welcoming. It doesn’t matter if your approach is low-key or full on “hail fellow, well met.” What matters is that it’s genuine and your interest in engaging customers beyond just selling wine is sincere. [/level-members]