Do Your Customers Have Holes In Their Wine Lists?

I am a pop-culture junkie so it should be no surprise that Reality TV and I are on a first-name basis. Last night I was curling up with some Vanderpump Rules on Bravo when an interesting thing happened, my reality and their reality collided! Let me explain…

Vanderpump Rules is set at SUR, a high-end restaurant and hot spot in Beverly Hills. One of the owners is restaurateur Lisa Vanderpump. She is also a Real Housewife of Beverly Hills, and interesting enough to warrant her own spin-off considering the staff at SUR is a hot group of HOT MESSES, serving up plenty of drama along with the daily specials. Last night before the appetizers starting rolling out of the kitchen, she had a meeting with a Wine Rep, and this is where it got interesting.

Knowing that Mrs. Vanderpump is a seasoned and successful professional, the Wine Rep took the time to review her wine list, and found holes in it. These holes weren’t gaping, like the complete absence of white wine, but very subtle holes that would add value to the list, provide more options for her customers, and ultimately generate revenue for her business.

I hit pause to let this brilliant approach take hold. Let’s review…

Knowing that Mrs. Vanderpump was almost certainly solicited by every Wine Rep on the West Coast and beyond, this gentleman found a way in the door by engaging her curiosity on what she might be missing out on.

Without wasting her time to try and sell her wines she already has from Reps she already works with—even if presented at a lower cost, faster delivery, or better quality—he focused on what she didn’t have.

By researching her existing wine list he was able to provide solutions to enhance and elevate her offerings, solve a vinous problem she wasn’t aware she had, and by working as a partner rather than a vendor, he created a customer.

Deborah is the Principal and Intergalactic Ambassador to The Printerverse at PrintMediaCentr which provides topical information and resources to the Print & Integrated Marketing community, with some fun in the mix! She also is the founder of the Print Production Professionals Group on LinkedIN and works behind the scenes with several print organizations and companies helping with their marketing and social media efforts. With more than 24 years of experience in print production, print buying and project management, Corn has worked for some of the largest and most influential ad agencies and has played an integral role in projects that have won ADDY, CA and other advertising award honors.
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  • Norman Glick

    Show me a real-world analogy where a print communications company will plug that gap, especially when our role rarely has any credential in marketing assistance. When we react to a project, our value may be to improve an existing idea within existing budgetary constraints. Marketing professionals within our clients are the ones to innovate and develop the programs that complement the total effort. Are you suggesting that the printing account executive can effectively fill that role? I respectfully disagree.

  • Kate Dunn

    Deborah I love this story and the parallel you draw to our industry. I agree with you it is completely on point. The key to success as a sales professional is differentiation – if your company doesn’t have it than the sales professional has to.

    From the outside looking in printing companies look very much the same – same types of equipment and the same claims of great quality and customer service. If everything appears close, the customer has one way to differentiate and that’s price.

    Look at the wine example, it is altogether possible that Sur’s other wine suppliers also carried the wines that this rep proposed but they just responded to what Ms. Vanderpump thought she needed and didn’t see the holes. This rep completely differentiated himself by using insight to get her attention. You could offer more of your customers a better experience and sell more by plugging the holes. What restaurant owner would not want to do that?

    Here are some examples that would play in our industry:
    1) Talking to a client about their volume of customer service calls, the relative expense of handling them and the risk to their profitability of customer dissatisfaction.. Then discussing how color could enhance their invoices, statements or product instructions to highlight things that would minimize customer questions.
    2) Pointing out to a non-profit that on-line donors who also engage via direct mail or other offline channels give more and stay longer and then helping them incorporate a direct mail channel into their existing digital donor communication.
    3) Talking to your client about the rate at which their print sales collateral becomes obsolete, the cost of destruction or lost opportunity from using out of date materials and then helping them extend its shelf life and enhance the experience of those reading it by adding interactivity with QR codes or augmented reality.

  • Robert W. Bell

    Interesting twist on a otherwise over looked process. We started asking our prospects the very common question. What do you need vs ,what can I sell you. You would be surprised on the collective responses over a period of time. There is a professional printer on LinkedIn and he begins with,
    Hello what can I do for you today ? what a fresh breath of service.

  • SignSolutionsSW

    See the opportunities!

    My clients nearly always are not aware of the possibilities and creative solutions we can provide, my job is always to make suggestions and improve on what they think they need. While its true that budget dictates a final decision, I choose to focus on the value of the products that I can supply. Nearly always there is a way to complete a project on time and on budget we just have to think outside the box!

    My view is that people talk and the more people I can get to say that I did a great job and they were pleased with the finished result then I have done my job well.