The Single Best Way to Accelerate Your Wine & Spirits Sales

Of all the things you could do to accelerate your sales, this one is by far the most impactful -shift your time, energy, investment and focus away from low value accounts and restrict yourself to only the high value target accounts. Not all accounts are equal – not by a long shot. In fact, the accounts capable of the most volume do about 20 times more volume the average accounts.

But, please don’t take my word for it. Look no further than the Comptroller’s office in Austin which shows the top 50 on premise accounts in Texas buy 19 times as much wine as the average of the top 10,000 accounts. (I didn’t even include the bottom 16,000 accounts in my analysis). If I had, these comparisons would be even more dramatic. Even if you narrow the analysis to just the top 500 on-premise accounts in the state, the top 50 do 3 times the volume of the average of the next 450 accounts. The 80/20 Rule is real, folks!

So, let’s say the average wine & spirits salesperson can reasonably take responsibility for 50 accounts over the course of 1-2 months’ time. WHICH 50 ACCOUNTS ARE YOU GOING TO CALL ON? Keep reading for a few clues.

Now YOU know the single best way to dramatically grow your sales. Narrow the focus of your time, energy, and investment to ONLY the most attractive and responsive accounts. This means if you’re not already practicing this discipline, at the very least you should be able to triple your sales by adopting this simple strategy.

Naturally, this begs the question: why don’t more salespeople do it? Several reasons. First, no one above them is directing them to do it. Second, they allow themselves to be led around by the distributor sales folks who, in spite over their best efforts, lack the freedom to apply the 80/20 Rule to their jobs. Lastly, very few if any sales people or sales leaders stop to analyze the account base and identify the highest value targets in each market. Even if they committed themselves to the exercise, most wouldn’t know where to begin. BTW, don’t waste your time asking the distributor and lists like Zagat and Wine Spectator don’t show you where the VOLUME is being done.

Texas makes it easy. They identify the exact accounts for you (for free). But what about the other 49 states? How do you identify the richest targets in those states? Well, the truth is all you need is a high-speed internet connection and a little help from someone like me who knows exactly where to look and what to look for.

Just one last thing. For those skeptics reading this article who might say, “Most of the top accounts aren’t accessible to small family wineries and craft distilleries,” or “What you say is true in theory, but in the real world the top accounts are controlled by the big suppliers and big distributors.” To these doubters, I simply reply, “Would you like to visit The Post Oak Hotel, the Gaylord Texan, Pappas Brothers Steakhouse, B&B Butchers, Nick & Sam’s and III Forks (all in the top 10 on premise accounts in Texas) with me to see if we can find evidence of them buying wines or spirits from the ‘little guys?’” If you accept, you’d better bring a toothpick because crow tends to get stuck in your teeth in the worst way.

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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One Comment

  1. The old school approach of putting your brands in the hands of the distributors is dead. It’s not distributors ignoring you, it’s just the numbers…too many suppliers for too few distributors. If you rely on distributors to build your brand you do so at your own peril.

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