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.
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