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What Suppliers Don’t Know About CRM

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They may sell no wine before it’s time, but for wine producers in the US and abroad, it is well past time to adopt the same kinds of cloud-based sales automation technologies embraced by most selling organizations – both within and outside the adult beverage industry. Even among the alcoholic beverage industry sector, wine producers lag their distilling and brewing brethren when it comes to sales-tech adoption. The Customer Relationship Management platform, or CRM, has become a standard issue piece of business operations for the contemporary sales force. So, what is stopping sales teams from capturing the low hanging fruit and crushing their sales goals?

Ben Salisbury, veteran adult beverage industry expert and CRM evangelist recently penned a piece for Wine Business Monthly explaining the evolution of sales technologies. He paints the story of the CRM as the direct descendent of the venerable old sales data tool, the Rolodex.  The idea being there is power in capturing and recording data one can use to effectuate more and better sales. The CRM simply provides the means to capture a wider variety of data besides just contact info and personal tidbits about each contact for a more relevant, personalized pitch.

Modern CRM tools from the larger providers like Salesforce and Oracle, as well as smaller providers like Sugar and Hubspot leverage the mobility of the cloud and enable capture and analysis of detailed, industry-specific metrics. Specialized CRM platforms like GreatVines for the beverage industry enable the planning, recording and analysis of such critical things like sales data, trade marketing activity, pricing and survey data to name a few.

Salisbury points out, as with most technologies, there are always early adopters and those who resist change. So, while some leading wineries like Grgich Hills, V2 Wine Group, Pahlmeyer and others have already embraced CRM technology from GreatVines to beneficial ends, there are many more organizations who have resisted making the modest investment despite the potential for increased sales and efficiency.

Maybe, says Salisbury, wine producers simply don’t fully grasp what CRM is and how to use it.  “How do you use it? What can it do? What does it cost? Is it worth it? Will my team use it? How do I measure ROI? These are common questions among the pragmatic holdouts. The short answer is the value of the CRM is not so much in the product itself as in how you use it.”  He continues illustrating how to answer these fair questions. “The ultimate goal” says Ben, “is to have more customers and more sales. But not just any customers. We’re talking about the 20 percent of the customers that drive 80 percent of the sales. Identifying them, segmenting them, and tracking all sales and marketing activity against them are virtually impossible without a cloud-based, mobile friendly, universally-collaborative tool like CRM.”

In a category like wine where the competition is exceedingly fierce, the margin of victory can come down to something as seemingly simple as optimizing time and efficiency in the sales process. That’s why the time-saving and organizational benefits of CRM are so inherently valuable to producers who have so many complicated, competing concerns outside of sales and marketing. Keeping tabs on the performance of each sales person and sales activity is a chore that few leaders have time for atop their daily roster of tasks.

“Time spent on low value activities can suck the life out of a winery’s P&L if not kept in check” says Salisbury. The CRM helps to rein in and properly focus sales activities on only the most fruitful pursuits.

We recommend reading Ben’s article in this month’s Wine Business Monthly, The Evolution of CRM and its Power to Change the Wine Selling Game”.  But if you don’t have a subscription, you can learn a lot from Ben’s recent presentation at the WITS event this past August in Napa Valley, CA viewable in this video. Or simply reach out to the CRM experts here at GreatVines to help you build a business case for bringing CRM to your winery!

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