As the wine and spirits industry becomes increasingly competitive, everyone seeks an “edge,” a “hack” – anything that offers a strategic advantage.
For most wine & spirits sales professionals, the solution is sitting right on their mobile phones in the form of their CRM system.
This article will shine a bright light on how CRMs focused on strong sales execution and management process empower salespeople in this industry.
Rough sailing: the choppy waters of intense competition aka Why CRM?
Before diving into the differences of a CRM and sales execution platforms and how they help salespeople sell more, we should briefly touch on the current market conditions.
It’s the perfect storm of too many brands and too few distributors contributing to the growing chaos where most brands are struggling for attention.
Our mantra, is that “they, who hold the customer relationship, wins.”
To change the game, change your frame
You can craft a strategic advantage.
For example, when competition is stiff, it is more effective to go narrow and deep in your pursuit of customers; a less-is-more approach pays huge dividends.
The key to accelerating sales is to narrow the focus to only the most attractive and responsive accounts.
It’s not practical for adult beverage brands to personally know ALL trade buyers, for example, but with a powerful software system, it is possible to go ‘deep’ with the RIGHT trade buyers.
What’s the difference between CRM and a Sales Management Platform?
Customer Relationship Management software can change the game for sales within all adult beverage categories. But what is CRM?
CRM is not a depletion reporting system.
CRM is not a sinister plot by Big Brother to babysit salespeople.
CRM is not an extra, unnecessary layer of bureaucracy.
CRM is, at its core, three things:
1. A powerful, cloud-based, mobile-friendly software tool
2. A one-stop shop for your sales team to review and store data
3. A disciplined process for converting prospects into customers
If CRMs provide benefits to management, so be it. The real power lies in its benefits to salespeople directly.
The core functionality of CRM has four important benefits for salespeople. It:
1. Saves time
2. Documents communication and simplifies outreach
3. Helps to streamline the sales processes as a repeatable process
4. Dramatically improves customer retention
Sales Execution as part of your CRM solution enhances the sales reps overall experience and compliments their efforts. With aspects specific to the three-tier system, it becomes indispensable with additional features and benefits, like:
1. Enhanced Visibility: Real-time tracking of sales processes, team performance, and market trends for informed decision-making.
2. Trend Identification: Analysis of sales data, aiding in strategy refinement and team improvement.
3. Actionable Insights: Insights from customer interactions and market trends allowing data-driven decision-making.
4. Photo Capture: Easily document and store visual information like site visits, product displays, or customer assets, enhancing record-keeping and customer engagement.
5. Efficient Monitoring: Data analysis and dashboards providing quick status and performance metrics.
6. Goal Alignment: Align sales teams with specific targets, fostering a results-oriented culture.
7. Workflow Efficiency: Automation streamlines tasks, allowing reps to focus on core activities and reducing administrative overhead.
8. Route Optimization: For field sales, efficient travel planning saves time and resources.
9. Survey Integration: Capture customer feedback and insights directly within the system, improving customer understanding and service quality.
A true sales execution solution becomes a critical component in empowering your sales force to not only excel and adapt to ever-evolving market changes but also to efficiently capture critical data points throughout the customer journey.
Moving beyond features and benefits
Ask any successful salesperson the key to their success, and you will undoubtedly and consistently hear the word “relationships.”
If relationships are the cornerstone of sales success, why does nearly every adult beverage company focus almost exclusively on product knowledge in their training efforts?
Most successful salespeople act on instinct. They just ‘do what they do’. But, upon deeper discovery, we learn their passion for pleasing their customers is their modus operandi.
Brand owners or sales executives looking to improve sales results across the entire array of their sales teams should consider systematizing the best practices of their sales stars—We are talking about building deep customer relationships at scale.
Pipeline symphony: orchestrating sales success
In a landscape driven by rapidly changing technology and the need for effective communication, a sales process driven with Sales Execution CRM becomes indispensable for achieving sales goals and ensuring that your business remains agile and competitive.
The key to dramatically accelerating sales is having the discipline to narrow your focus, but going ‘deep’ with each of them comes down to how well you respect the customer journey.
A simple but well-organized sales pipeline helps salespeople better manage their customers’ journeys, leading to higher and faster closing ratios.
Aside from improving sales results, a properly constructed sales pipeline provides many powerful benefits to various departments in the organization, including:
- A clear line of sight into the status of major deals
- More accurate sales forecasts
- Better communication and ability to recall prior messages and conversations.
Companies in other consumer product categories have long been leveraging the benefits of Sales Execution systems, but for some reason, the wine & spirits industry is slow to catch on.
The doctor is in: Diagnosing your sales process
We all know that revenue, and lots of it, cures many illnesses within a business.
How would it feel to know EXACTLY what to change or tweak to accelerate revenue growth?
Keeping track of what’s going on in your sales pipeline within a CRM Sales Execution system allows you to diagnose the symptoms of poor sales performance.
Accounts get stuck in the pipeline for various reasons, including:
- Not reaching the right buyer
- Incomplete or inaccurate Contact or Account information
- A problem with a product or service
Salespeople may struggle to move accounts through the pipeline because of the following:
- Expecting quick sales closures
- Failing to acknowledge the stage of the customer journey
- Focusing solely on sales rather than the relationship
A high-functioning Sales Execution system can easily highlight your company’s shortcomings and treat them before the sale is lost.
Less obvious benefits of CRM Sales Execution (CRM SE)
The benefits to wine & spirits companies leveraging CRM Sales Execution (or CRM SE) go beyond a more efficient and effective sales team.
A well-organized and well-used sales management process and CRM system benefits operations, marketing, finance, IT, and HR.
We know firsthand that many wine and spirits companies need help with accurate forecasting and inventory management. Your CRM SE system can aid greatly in meeting these challenges.
Instead of relying on “lagging” sales metrics like shipments, depletions, and accounts sold, your CRM SE system can incorporate more “leading” indicators such as response to relationship metrics, velocity, retention, and empirical ranking.
Without question, customer retention and loyalty are one of the greatest benefits of leveraging a true CRM SE system.
Salespeople are wired for the thrill of the hunt. They may not be as focused on customer retention as they should because it’s less exciting.
However, having predefined goals and visibility of key performance metrics within a CRM SE system helps.
10 tips to help with adoption
Despite the many benefits of utilizing a CRM SE management solution, most companies need help with adoption. To that end, here are some very practical tips:
1. Leadership Buy-in: full support of top management
2. Training and onboarding: provide comprehensive training (both live and asynchronously)
3. Customization: helps make the system relevant to users by adapting it to your organization’s language and sales style
4. Continuous support: offering ongoing support is essential to long-term success
5. Integration: incorporate the CRM with other essential business systems like email and calendars
6. Incentives and rewards: these do not have to be monetary; recognition of top users/activity is a great way to boost engagement
7. Data quality: the biggest failure to engage the sales team is a lack of confidence in the data
8. Mobile access: ensure the system you choose has a robust mobile presence even in mobile dead zones apps
9. Gamification: create challenges, sprints, competitions, and leaderboards
10. Regular Management check-ins and communication: schedule these in advance to identify areas of improvement and never stop communicating the benefits in meetings
IMPORTANT: Improving system adoption is not a one-time event. It must be an ongoing process that never ends!
Get a CRM Sales Execution (CRM SE) Mentor
At Andavi Solutions, we have deep expertise in deploying a tailored CRM Sales Execution solution for all tiers of the adult beverage industry.
We help suppliers, distributors, and retailers leverage software and data to accelerate their sales results, and we’d love to help you.
Consider this your invitation to have us as your “CRM SE Mentor.” We’d love to learn more about your particular situation.
About Andavi Solutions
Andavi Solutions builds an integrated suite of technology solutions to provide insights, drive superior decision-making, and generate ROI across the beverage alcohol and CPG supply chain.