Breaking the Spell: Why Your Product Isn’t Enough and How TECHNOLOGY Can Transform Your Sales


If you are happy with your current sales level and are on track to hit all of your depletion and revenue goals in 2024, this article is not for you. Just hit your back button and return to whatever you were busy doing before this headline caught your eye.

But if growing your sales and hitting your goals are high on your list of things that occupy your waking (or supposed-to-be-sleeping) hours, please read on.

Why a Great Product Isn’t Enough to Achieve Sales Success

Here is an interesting observation: Most wine and spirits companies need to grow their sales. Some of them quite desperately. The typical methods they deploy to attack this objective almost always involve the same twelve things:

  1. Craft compelling stories to sell their products
  2. Emphasize the features and benefits of their products
  3. Pursue awards and accolades
  4. Spend small fortunes on social media and influencer marketing
  5. Spend even larger fortunes on brand awareness
  6. Pursue liquid-to-lips opportunities
  7. Conduct market blitzes
  8. Create incentives for their distributors
  9. Spend time and money on educating others about their products
  10. Send out promo emails like a curtain of fire
  11. Run FB and IG ads attempting to stimulate eCommerce purchases with a “buy now” CTA
  12. Attend tastings and events

But notice what is conspicuously absent from this list: leveraging technology and data.

This is woefully imprudent because leveraging technology and data will yield FAR more excellent results than any of the items listed above.

And the reason for this oversight is an intense focus on the product itself.

It’s an easy mistake to make.

After all, wine is sexy. Whiskey is seductive. Vodka is silky. Mezcal is smokey. Prosecco is sweet and sparkly. Gin is sophisticated. To NOT talk about these products, you have to tear yourself away from them!

Traction Tramples Tradition

Most wine and spirits salespeople (and marketers) believe if consumers and trade knew more about the product (who made it, where and how it was made, etc.) and had an opportunity to taste it, they would purchase it.

This seems logical on the face of things, but the product, no matter how differentiated and delicious one might think, is simply not enough to sell it successfully. It takes so much more than that.

The “Product” is only one of the five Ps of marketing. By focusing disproportionately and narrowly on the product itself, you risk de-leveraging the OTHER four P’s:

  • Price
  • Promotion
  • Place
  • People

And it’s in relation to these four Ps that technology and data shine.

Accelerating Sales with the “Other 4 P’s”

Whether you like it or not, you operate in one of the planet’s most complex and competitive consumer product categories.

It takes more than a great product to win the sales game.

There will be winners and losers in 2024. If you want to be on the winning side, pay close attention.

The good news is that the data will tell you about everything you need to know. The bad news is that it’s neither fun nor sexy.

The good news is that technology will allow you to scale, leverage, and propel your sales success to unimaginable levels and leave your competitors in the dust. The bad news is that your heart rate will remain unaltered.

Advisory: some readers may experience a cold and dispassionate reaction to the remaining content of this article.


Question: Who wants to talk about pricing?

Answer: Just about nobody.

Try this experiment: The next time you host a wine dinner, stand up and say, “OK, let’s talk about the pricing strategies for this wine as it relates to brand equity and profitability.”

Nevertheless, let’s try to make this topic as concupiscent as possible.

Pricing is powerful. Pricing drives performance. How well you plan, measure, analyze, collaborate, and systematize your pricing strategy is directly related to your level of sales success.

Pricing will make or break your brand’s performance. Pricing is precise. Pricing is not to be taken lightly.

Your pricing strategy can be used to increase profitability, boost sales, strengthen your pattern relationships, optimize efficiency, and gain valuable insights into the marketplace.

The right pricing technology lets you effectively plan, analyze, optimize, and promote your brand.


The intense competition in our category causes many wine and spirits brands to behave foolishly and imprudently regarding their promotional spending.

With wild-eyed enthusiasm and visions of grandeur, we love to promote aggressively. Drive that price down! Stimulate trial and purchases! Yank that product off the shelf! Drive those distributor salespeople into a selling frenzy!

But how much time and energy do we spend analyzing the return on investment of these promotional programs? Very little, indeed.

The problem is that this is simply too much work without a robust technology solution!

All that manual data entry, emailing spreadsheets back and forth, and the sales department running wild without collaboration with the finance department.

And who has the TIME to conduct post-promotion analysis? We’ve got to get busy launching the next promotion! This shoot-first, ask questions later is rampant.

“We made fourteen new by-the-glass placements!” Congratulations, but what did it cost us per case? “We moved 28 cases!” Marvelous, but at what level of profitability?

“Do you want me in the office crunching numbers or our selling?” the sales team asks. It’s a great question. Who in their right mind would leave this analysis up to the sales team? But it happens every day of the week.

Technology is the answer to ensuring your promotional spending returns BOTH the volume performance you desire and the profitability you need.


All can agree that sales success is about the right product in the right place, time, and price.

If this is true (and it most certainly is), then why are most salespeople allowed to run willy-nilly throughout the market armed with nothing more than their own intuition to guide them in the accounts they choose to target?

But it gets much worse. Most sales leaders urge their people to call on as many accounts as possible each week, acting under the grossly misguided belief that more sales calls equals more sales.

This reckless disregard for the Pareto Principle is the norm for most sales organizations in our industry. This more-is-more approach is the single largest reason most wine and spirits companies aren’t consistently achieving their sales goals.

What is needed is a much more empirical approach. One that is driven by data. The data will tell you where to hunt. The key to high levels of sales performance is a disciplined adherence to the 80/20 Rule.

In fact, according to the 80/20/30 rule (found in Jeff Thull’s masterpiece, Mastering the Complex Sale), any time spent in the bottom third of the account base is guaranteed to cut your sales potential in half. HALF!

So, technology comes to the rescue in two ways:

  1. The data is used to identify the richest target accounts in any given sales territory.
  2. The disciplined use of a CRM system to manage the opportunity pipeline and provide a clear line of sight to it.

Place is not just important; it’s paramount! And only technology and data can unlock the highest levels of sales performance.


Ask most salespeople what the #1 key to sales success is; they will tell you, without exception, “relationships.”

But things quickly start to break down when asked about the best way to manage and foster relationships.

It is tragic but true: too many salespeople are hired based on their personality and charm—essential traits, to be sure. But what separates the exceptional performers from the rest of the pack is their ability to provide flawless follow-up to their customers. To these sales superstars, details matter.

Most salespeople resist using CRM because they think it’s a waste of time and too big-brother-ish. But the best salespeople embrace it because it enables them to

  • Make more efficient use of their time (every salesperson’s most valuable asset).
  • Close more sales faster.
  • Close bigger deals.
  • Eliminate written call reports.
  • Improve retention of the placements they’ve worked so hard to achieve.
  • Provide superior customer service.
  • Crush their sales goals and cash bigger bonus checks.
  • Automate, reduce, or eliminate manual repetitive administrative tasks.

Don’t blame the CRM system if you are struggling with adopting CRM in your sales organization.

The “People” part of the 5 Ps isn’t just about the people making purchase decisions; it’s about the people you have on your sales team. And that includes your sales leaders.

Wine and spirits companies that consistently achieve their sales goals leverage technology in their sales processes and hire people who know how to use these systems and see value in them.

Top salespeople want CRM. It empowers them. They embrace it. They leverage it.

The “Sexiness” of Technology is in the Eye of the Beholder

Everyone who’s read this article faces two critical choices:

  1. Continue to embrace a product-focused approach to sales
  2. Learn to love and leverage data and technology to accelerate your sales in a disciplined way.

Times have changed in this industry. In many ways. You can run with the big dogs or get up on the porch with the puppies.

Consistently nailing your sales and profitability goals is completely within your grasp. But it requires the tech chops to do it.

Need help? We don’t produce wine or spirits, but we sure know how to sell them. Click hereto schedule an appointment to talk with one of our sales technology experts.