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What a blind date taught me about selling

What a blind date taught me about selling is this: the same principles apply to whether you are selling someone something or setting someone up on a blind date. In either case, your success comes down to your ability to make the other person feel good about what you are representing or selling before trying the product or going on the blind date.

It’s probably fair to say we all have either been on a blind date or know someone who has been. There is no shortage of blind date horror stories, and I have my own, as I have been on two blind dates. After the first one, I swore I would never go on another one, but this article’s subject is the second one.


Damn, this woman can sell anything

That’s what I thought when I allowed a woman I knew for barely 60 minutes to set me up on a blind date. Damn, this woman can sell anything.

In 2003 I lived in New York City and was a month away from moving overseas for a new job, so some friends took me to a happy hour to celebrate. The shots, jokes, and laughter were flowing, and our celebratory spirit spilled over to the guests surrounding us, including the couple sitting next to me. The guy was somewhat reserved, and the lady with him was rather gregarious, with a strong New York accent and a Joan Rivers kind of attitude, which I liked. Within one hour of meeting this couple, the lady said, “I need to set you up with my friend.”

My first thought was, “no F&%$% way.” I had been on a blind date before, and not only did the woman not look as she described but to say no chemistry existed between us would be like saying there’s no tropical rainforest in Cleveland. That date ended quickly, and I swore I would never go on a blind date again.

When this woman in the bar tried to set me up, I wondered if she was a loop or a psychic? How can she determine in just an hour of knowing me that her friend and I will make a great couple?

Long story short, from having fun with this couple and this lady talking up her friend so well, I felt at ease about being set up on a blind date. Funny enough, I ended up going on that blind date, and we hit it off so well, we went out a second and third time. Of course, a month later, I left the country-go figure.

I always wondered if that woman (that I knew for barely 60 minutes) who set me up on a blind date worked in sales. If not, someone should recruit her.

To key to selling is making others feel good

When you are selling, you will have more success if you first make the customer feel good about the product. I wouldn’t have gone on that blind date if that lady didn’t make me feel good about her friend first.
With wine, you want people to feel great about the wine before they even taste it. Talk up the wine just as that lady talked up her friend to me. Show how much you love the wine and let that enthusiasm you have for that wine influence the customer.

Studies on the power of influence have shown it works, and I can confirm it from personal experience. I allowed a strange woman I knew for barely 60 minutes to talk me into going on a second blind date. If that isn’t proof of the power of influence, I don’t know what is.

Also, there is much ignorance, many misconceptions, and intimidation surrounding wine. If there was ever a time when you need to make someone feel comfortable about something before buying, it is with a wine unfamiliar to them.

You want to relate to the person and their needs

If the person setting me up had said something generic like, “oh my friend is a lot of fun, you have to meet her,” then I would not have been interested in meeting her.

What sold me was when this woman setting me up gave me examples of why she thought we would be a good match. She mentioned similarities that we both shared, such as our sense of humor and easy-going nature, and so on. These examples gave me something I could relate to, which made me more comfortable.


How does this apply in a selling situation?

Relate your wine to a customer’s needs. If you’re in a grocery store selling red wine, and a customer comes to your table with a steak in their cart, talk about how the red wine will work with that steak.

Maybe it is the holidays, and you can promote your wine as an excellent match for a holiday meal.
Perhaps you can elaborate on the food pairing. Go into details about how it is particularly good with light poultry and root vegetables, or something like that.

Regardless of your approach, it is crucial to give some details to support your position instead of a general statement. Details help sell. Using the holiday example, don’t just say, “Oh, this wine is perfect with Thanksgiving.” Go into more detail about how the lower tannins and fruit of a California pinot noir are perfect with lighter proteins and root vegetables. Add a personal experience as well. Speak of the time you brought the wine to a holiday gathering, and your family is now a fan of it, and now it is a staple during holidays or something of that nature.

In both cases, the seller gave the customer something they can relate to, which can provide a comfort level for the customer.

Enthusiasm is contagious

Do you ever notice you laugh more in a movie theatre with other people laughing than when you watch something equally funny at home alone?

With that in mind, do you think you will make people want to buy something if you are not enthusiastic about it?
Enthusiasm is contagious, and people feed off of that.

One of the reasons I agreed to go on a blind date set up by a woman I just met was because she was so enthusiastic about the two of us meeting. She didn’t just say, “You need to meet my friend; she’s wonderful.” She came across more like it was a matter of national security, like, “Oh my god, you have to meet my friend; you two are a match made in heaven!”

There is much more to selling than what we’ve covered, but hopefully, this will give you another tool to use in your approach. The “blind date selling technique” is one of the best methods I have found to help people improve their sales, partly because almost everyone can relate in some way or another.


About the author

Curt Sassak has 35 years of experience in the food and beverage industry. He was formerly a chef for 27 years and is president of Winetasters Choice, a beverage promotional agency serving seven states.

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