Resolve to Have a Lean, High-Performance Sales Team in the New Year

As a consultant to wineries and craft distilleries, people sometimes pay for my advice and then don’t take it. But, I’m about to offer some free guidance you’d be wise not to ignore. The 80/20 Rule is most definitely real, and it applies to your sales team as well. You can dramatically accelerate your sales in 2019 by dismissing the (consistently) worst performing 20% of your sales people and re-allocate the money you’ll save to invest in the data and technology you’ll need to get even more production from the rest of your sales team.

The truth is almost all sales teams have “fat” or waste or at the very least terrible inefficiencies. This waste (which I like to call heat loss) occurs when leaders allow their salespeople to operate without strict adherence to a disciplined strategy and without reasonable accountability. Left unchecked, the money, effort and time spent on sales activities results in an unacceptably low return on investment. The activities are there, all right (along with a shoebox full of receipts). Just not the results.

All salespeople who do not achieve their distribution and volume goals have one thing in common: a well-rehearsed arsenal of excuses. And these excuses often flow upstream to the C-suite. The New Year is a good time to put a stop this nonsense and begin holding people accountable for RESULTS.

The formula I preach on how to consistently and profitably achieve your distribution and volume goals is no secret: 1) depend less and less on your distributors, 2) leverage the 80/20 Rule, 3) measure the right things, and 4) hold people accountable for results. Sales leaders and owners: if your sales team is falling short and you are NOT doing these four things, it’s up to you to do something about it.

The calendar is about to turn to 2019. The data, technology and best practices exist to eliminate all excuses for nonperformance. The days of your distributors being able to do most of the heavy lifting are long gone. The sooner you accept this reality, the sooner you can begin to make the necessary adjustments. The New Year is a good time to throw out the old playbook and start running plays out of the NEW and more modern playbook.

For example, stop coddling your sales people by allowing them to draw a fat paycheck but not log every sales call in your CRM system. Stop revering wine knowledge and certifications above solid business acumen. In case you haven’t noticed, its ten times more competitive today than it was ten years ago. Wine knowledge is great, but it is nowhere near enough.

Perhaps one of the best New Year’s resolutions you can make for 2019 is stop treating all accounts as if they are of equal value. The outdated measurement, “accounts sold,” assumes all accounts are capable of the same volume which they most certainly are not. The #1 factor in accelerating sales performance is to severely restrict all activity and investment (time and $$) to only the most attractive and responsive accounts. Aside from the obvious fact you must first identify these accounts, you must also have a CRM system in place to track and monitor progress against them.

In just a few weeks, the clock will stop ticking on 2018 and you’ll know for certain what kind of year you had in terms of business results. If you are among the thousands of wineries and craft distilleries who will fall short of their goals, its time to make some serious adjustments for the New Year. And, as always, I am standing by to help.

About the Author
Ben Salisbury is the Founder and President of Salisbury Creative Group, Inc. which specializes in helping wineries and craft distilleries achieve high levels of sales effectiveness. Leveraging his knowledge and experience from three decades in the industry, Ben and his team deliver sales, marketing, and distribution expertise to a wide array of adult beverage clients. Prior to starting his own company in May of 2014, Ben spent 17 years as VP of On Premise National Accounts for both Ste Michelle Wine Estates and Constellation Brands.
Contact info:
ben@salisburycreative.com
469-265-2210

How to leverage email marketing to sell more wine & spirits to the TRADE

Don’t let anyone tell you email marketing is dead. It’s only the people who don’t know what they are talking about that spout such nonsense. Almost all wineries and many distilleries currently leverage email marketing on the DTC side of their business. But, it’s on the TRADE sales side of the business that email marketing is drastically underutilized. A big reason for this is the actual people (team members) who design and execute DTC email marketing campaigns are not the same people responsible for TRADE sales.

Opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work. Email marketing – done right- IS hard work. There is also a steep learning curve because you’ve got to master a new piece of software (i.e. Constant Contact or MailChimp, etc). Besides, isn’t it the distributors’ job to sell wine to the trade? Right. So, how’s that workin’ for ya?

If your winery or distillery is not using email marketing now to sell more products to the trade, you might want to take a few minutes and read the rest of this article.

Just imagine for a second you had in your possession, say, one thousand email addresses of sommeliers, restaurant owners, independent package store owners, and other various buyer roles in the trade AND you understood how to market your wares to them using email marketing. You would have one of the lowest-cost, highest return routes to market on the planet. You could generate so much new revenue you could easily afford to pay a person to do this full time at a fraction of the cost of a “traditional” sales rep. No company car, no travel allowance, no bloated salary. When Archimedes said, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world,” he was surely talking about email marketing.

This strategy should appeal to smaller producers of wine & spirits with a tiny (or no) sales team because they don’t stand a chance in the 3-tier environment. Once you know how to a) reach potential buyers and b) get them to “opt in” to your email list your fortunes will surely improve. This is best accomplished by using a magical combination of Facebook ads + Landing Pages + Email Marketing. You use the Facebook ads to target potential buyers and you collect their email addresses along the way. That’s where the Landing Pages come in – this is the key to “converting” all the traffic you’ve generated to actual email addresses. Once you have the email addresses, you can start building relationships directly with the buyers.

Sounds too far-fetched? Sounds too good to be true? Well, truth be told, there is a catch. Using Facebook advertising linked to Landing Pages that are integrated to your Constant Contact account is very difficult to do without expert assistance. But so are a lot of things in life that hold great value and potential. The good news is whatever it costs you to acquire this knowledge will be returned to you many times over. What would it be worth to control more of your own destiny? What would it be worth to rely less on your distributors? What would it be worth to have steady, predictable sales results?
I realize this very modern, very new approach to trade sales is tough to fully grasp and accept. But don’t let that discourage you from forging ahead. There are capable, knowledgeable people standing by to help you get started. Among these is our firm, of course, but also Merchant 23 and LibDib. Demand for smaller wine & spirits producers IS skyrocketing. Retailers DO benefit when distribution is done differently. And I’ve got news for you, many small wineries and craft distilleries are already doing it – even as you read this post!

Until May 6, 1954, no human being had ever run a mile in less than 4 minutes. Just 46 days later, a second person broke the barrier. A year later, three more did the same (in a single race, no less). In the 50 years since, over 1,000 runners have bested the 4-minute mark. My point is it’s too late for you to be the Roger Banister of email marketing trade sales. But, for heavens sake, don’t wait 50 years to get moving on this stuff!

About the Author

Ben Salisbury is the Founder and President of Salisbury Creative Group, Inc. which specializes in helping wineries and craft distilleries achieve high levels of sales effectiveness. Leveraging his knowledge and experience from three decades in the industry, Ben and his team deliver sales, marketing, and distribution expertise to a wide array of adult beverage clients. Prior to starting his own company in May of 2014, Ben spent 17 years as VP of On Premise National Accounts for both Ste Michelle Wine Estates and Constellation Brands.

Contact info:
ben@salisburycreative.com
469-265-2210

Keys to success selling wine in the US -What’s IN and what’s OUT?

I recently completed a survey from a wine trade organization that was seeking insights about what wineries from outside the US need to know to be successful in this market. I could tell by the questions they asked, this organization was clueless. I kept looking for “none of the above” as a response to the questions they asked.

So, once again, I find myself providing a public service to all wineries (both foreign and domestic) who are still operating under the delusion that somehow their story, their wines, and their marketing programs are unique enough and distinct enough to merit placement on wine lists and store shelves.

“Winning” in the marketplace today requires much more than product, package, price, and promotion. The four P’s are important, no doubt, but they are no where near enough. So, the big question is, if those things aren’t enough then what CAN you do?  What, then, ARE the keys to success selling wine in the US Market?  For those who are ready to hear it, here’s my list of what’s “in” and what’s “out.”

What’s “IN”

Working smarter not harder.

Less is more. Leverage the 80/20 Rule in everything you do. For heavens sake STOP confusing activity with achievement. Too many sales people spend their time on extremely low value activities. Selling one case of wine at a time should be a first-degree felony if you’re drawing a salary plus a company car and an expense account. Don’t step over a dollar to pick up a dime.

Direct to Trade.

Just about every major retailer – both on and off premise- plus any wine buyer with an IQ above room temperature has realized cutting deals directly with small, independent wineries and using clearing distributors to fulfill their orders is the way things get done nowadays. Why? Fatter margins, that’s why. Go to the websites of Merchant 23 and LibDib and read everything you can. Or don’t- and continue to wander aimlessly in the desert of despair.

Data and Technology

Buy your own RAD data. Implement CRM and then develop the intestinal fortitude to have everyone use it. I’ve got a short message to owners and sales leaders who pay good money for these things but let their highly paid sales team skip out on using them: grow a pair.

Key Account Targeting

Don’t rely on anyone outside your organization to determine where your products should be sold. Don’t rely on anyone outside your organization to identify the 20% of the accounts that drive 80% of the volume. Use your data and technology to restrict sales activity to only these accounts.

What’s “OUT”

Distributors

This is really very simple. If it’s important to your winery and your brand, you’re going to have to do it yourself. YOU take responsibility for your own outcomes. Don’t blame it on the distributors if you’re not meeting your distribution and volume goals. They are doing the best they can amidst unimaginably challenging circumstances. The best they can do is amplify YOUR efforts. Help them help you. I guess it’s not so much that distributors are “out” as your unrealistic expectations of them are “out.”

Wine Education

Is it important? Yes. Is it compulsory? Yes. Will it drive sales and distribution? F— No! Wine knowledge is important but it’s nowhere near enough. Put down the wine glass, pick up a calculator. This is a BUSINESS! In fact, it’s one of the most capital-intensive businesses on the planet. Go have coffee with your CEO. Ask her about the company’s return on assets. Ask to see the Statement of Cash Flows. Ask her which she thinks is more mission critical to the company’s success – achieving the next level wine certification or a shit ton of revenue.

Excuses

Our prices are too high. We didn’t get a good score. We sold all that wine to Costco last year and now we’re lapping those numbers. Our label won’t stand out on the shelf. We need better POS. We need to spend more on incentives. We need more salespeople. On and on it goes. Excuses are crutches for the weak. This is a very tough, very competitive business. Winery owners and sales leaders, here’s a nickel’s worth of free advice: Fire every sales person who can’t consistently deliver their numbers and use the money to implement the things on the “IN” list above. Don’t put up with excuses for one second. Don’t put it off, either. The best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago. The second-best time to plant a tree? Today.

Our industry puts up with too much coddling. We’re WAY too in touch with our “softer side.” Times have changed. Times are tough and tough times call for INNOVATION, new methods of operating and modern strategies. As a consultant to wineries – both inside and outside the US – one of my greatest joys is watching the light bulb come on for a winery owner. Seeing their eyes brighten as they realize there IS a better way to consistently sell all the wine they make and do it much more profitably. Then we BOTH smile as we realize so few people have really caught on to this. They are still running plays out of the old wine-sales playbook.  And that is great news for the rest of us who are all ready implementing the new one.

About the Author

Ben Salisbury is the Founder and President of Salisbury Creative Group, Inc. which specializes in helping wineries and craft distilleries achieve high levels of sales effectiveness.  Leveraging his knowledge and experience from three decades in the industry, Ben and his team deliver sales, marketing, and distribution expertise to a wide array of adult beverage clients.  Prior to starting his own company in May of 2014, Ben spent 17 years as VP of On Premise National Accounts for both Ste Michelle Wine Estates and Constellation Brands.

Contact info:

ben@salisburycreative.com

469-265-2210