At Andavi Solutions, we interact with a wide array of wine & spirits sales teams.
When it comes to those who consistently achieve high levels of sales performance, we’ve discovered 5 habits common to all of those high achievers.
1. They measure what really matters.
Everyone is familiar with the “standard” Adult beverage KPIs, such as shipments, depletions, points of distribution, and accounts sold. The best-performing sales teams do not use standard KPIs to measure success; they use them to confirm results.
More time and energy are spent on forward-looking metrics (leading indicators), such as:
- Penetration of target accounts (percentage)
- Sales per POD in target accounts (velocity)
- Retention of the best placements (re-order)
- At-risk accounts (downward trending sales)
- Account touches (who and how often)
Top-performing sales teams are relentless in measuring performance, and the key is having centralized dashboards visible to everyone in the organization (sales, marketing, operations, and finance).
It is no longer enough to track distribution quantitatively; sales teams must also measure the quality of their distribution.
Take the KPIs of accounts sold and points of distribution (PODs) as an example. These can become “hollow” metrics because they don’t point to potential. These metrics treat all accounts equally. You can optimize your sales efforts and trade spending only when you are in the right accounts with the right products.
Measuring account penetration and PODs within the highest-value accounts can make all the difference. The highest-value accounts can be identified by measuring velocity (how many cases are generated per POD) and retention (how long a placement stays in place).
2. They fish where the fish are.
The key to leveraging sales resources (people, time, and trade spending) is to narrow the focus to only the most attractive and responsive accounts.
Not all accounts are of equal value. Therefore, sales teams must leverage the 80/20 Rule by objectively creating key account targets based on volume potential.
The “attributes” of high-volume target accounts include:
- Chains (both national and regional)
- Independent accounts with the highest levels of foot traffic
It is a less-is-more approach that is driven by objective, empirical data.
By narrowing the focus to the highest-value accounts, sales teams can achieve dramatically higher levels of sales performance without increasing headcount and trade spend.
And it all starts with the data!
Here is a practical example. Some restaurants do six or seven times the volume of average restaurants because they serve six or seven times as many customers.
“Indicators” of a restaurant’s volume potential can easily be researched and include:
- Lots of private dining space
- Outdoor seating
- Busy “dayparts” beyond lunch and dinner, such as brunch, happy hour, and late-night business
- Amount of social interaction
Even a simple query on Yelp, for example, will point the way to accounts with these attributes.
Sorting Yelp queries by “Most Reviewed” (an objective measurement) instead of “Highest Rated” (a subjective measurement) is a reliable indicator of foot traffic in each restaurant.
A restaurant with average foot traffic typically receives between 100 and 300 reviews on Yelp. But a restaurant with high foot traffic will receive well beyond 1,000 reviews (many well beyond 2,500). A perfect correlation exists between the number of reviews and the volume potential in a restaurant.
Smart sales teams prioritize chains because one point of contact can result in hundreds of accounts sold. Prioritizing chains is a powerful way to leverage existing sales resources.
Another way to leverage data is to look within your existing customer base, identify the highest volume target accounts, and study the attributes of these high-performing accounts carefully. Go beyond the numbers to discover why these accounts do so much more volume than others.
Some independent off-premise accounts sell as many products from their website as they do within the four walls of their brick-and-mortar stores. The following attributes can help identify these accounts:
- Above-average social media following
- Prioritization of their email lists (the key to eCommerce success)
- Powerful search tools on their website (elevated shopping experience)
- A shopping cart on their website with fast and easy checkout
- The ability for shoppers to create their own account, view their own order history, and receive personalized recommendations
A little time spent researching these “eCommerce gems” pays off big time in terms of identifying the richest targets.
3. They leverage technology and data.
Without exception, sales teams that fully leverage CRM systems sell far more than their pen-and-paper counterparts.
Utilizing a cloud-based, mobile-friendly CRM system not only unleashes class-leading sales results but also provides other powerful benefits such as:
- Saves time and email back and forth since the information is always available to everyone who needs it
- Improves time-to-close in key accounts
- Provides a clear line of sight to everyone involved in the sales process
- Reduces the need for meetings, emails, and phone calls
One of the biggest challenges facing sales teams is the organization of their data, such as:
- Sales data
- Promotional spending
- Discounts, depletion allowances, rebates, and billbacks
In today’s highly competitive, fast-paced sales environment, “static” documents and spreadsheets that need to be emailed back and forth just won’t cut it.
High-performing sales teams know that time is money, and therefore, they embrace technology solutions that streamline and centralize their data. But they don’t stop there!
Smart sales teams seek to be fully integrated with their distributor partners’ data. The technology exists today to bring your entire distribution team to the table, but few know such solutions exist.
Real-time digital collaboration at your fingertips isn’t something that will be available in the future – it’s here now!
4. They balance product knowledge with solid business acumen.
No one in our industry would ever dispute the importance of expert product knowledge, but, unfortunately, it takes more than that to achieve your sales objectives.
Solid business acumen is also essential and includes things like:
- Space management and analysis
- Trade promotion management
- Pricing management
- Reporting and Analytics
- Planning and Forecasting
While these skills are far less “sexy” and fun than product knowledge certifications, they can potentially separate average sales teams from extraordinary ones.
The “tech revolution” in wine & spirits sales is already underway! Nearly every advancement in professional selling is due to the expert use of technology and data.
Sales teams that are proficient in and comfortable with using digital tools attain significantly higher levels of sales performance compared to “old school” sales teams.
We are already seeing these skills show up in job descriptions. Salespeople who drag their feet on acquiring and mastering these skills will soon become endangered of getting left behind.
Solid business acumen as a job qualification now carries equal, if not heavier, weight than strong product knowledge.
Leveraging technology and data is now a must-have for modern sales teams!
5. They keep a tight handle on pricing and trade spending.
We saved the best for last. Most important of all is the mastery of pricing and trade spending.
Take wine-by-the-glass programs as an example. Some important questions simply must be answered:
- How much are you spending on your Wine by-the-glass programs?
- Is the spend worth it?
- How should you price by-the-glass programs with distributors?
- What is the ROI of each by-the-glass placement you are managing?
These questions must be answered thoroughly and accurately! Guesswork and intuition simply won’t cut it when margins continue to get closer and closer.
And these are not hard to answer any longer. Just a couple of mouse clicks get you to the data when you leverage powerful software tools that are integrated with your distributors’ systems.
Investment in software that tightly controls pricing and promotional spending has become an indispensable part of managing a sales team. Again, it is not very “sexy,” but essential nevertheless.
For those reading this article, we suggest some easy next steps:
- Conduct a sales technology audit to determine where the “holes” are in your systems. Take time to learn about the tools and software options available right now (not at some point in the future)
- Evaluate each sales team member’s level of proficiency in the use of these tools
- Provide technical training to your sales team members
If one of your company’s goals is to increase sales dramatically, this is an excellent time of year to embark on this journey!
Don’t get left behind.
Smart sales teams are always looking for an “edge.” We at Andavi believe that technology provides that edge.
We welcome you to have one of our in-house experts look closely at YOUR sales team’s current capabilities. No obligation, no pressure. It is just an objective analysis with helpful recommendations. Interested? Curious? Click right here to get started with your free consultation!
About Andavi Solutions
Andavi Solutions was built to offer beverage alcohol businesses an integrated suite of technology solutions that provide insights, drive superior decision-making, and deliver ROI across the value chain. With decades of experience as suppliers, distributors, and analysts, Andavi Solutions has successfully leveraged technology to support the deliverables of on-premise chain accounts.
Want to learn even more about how we can help you succeed in on-premise chains? Contact us here for more information.