Archive for the ‘Sales Strategy’ Category

August 20, 2014 · by Eve Allen · Sales Strategy

Simplify Training

The best sales reps in the industry all have their own way of working that they become very comfortable with. But even the best aren’t maximizing their selling opportunities. An important part of our training is showing how GreatVines will help them sell more cases easily. Once they see how it works and what you can do for them, they are hooked!

Sales reps and managers are typically busy people juggling many accounts and many new projects and tasks. Finding out they have to implement a new software system to keep track of EVERYTHING can illicit a mix of fear and wonder. Where will they find the time to devote to learning something that complicated?

Training is a process not an event. Keep trainings short and simple.

Something that our customers often share is how easy it is to get started using the system. This is even more true now with our simplified mobile application. Customers learn that not only does GreatVines provide a very detailed number of options for storing information, but it does not make someone new to the system feel as if it will be a chore to learn it. In fact, two hours of training or less is all that is needed to get going.

Acknowledge with your team that the process is iterative and you will be making changes and improvements over time. Getting up and running quickly ensures that the business can best tailor the configuration for optimal usage and adoption, thus avoiding the dreaded “90 day throw away” where lots of collected data becomes useless and users feel like their time has been wasted. Encourage users to embrace the iterative nature of these cloud-based systems.

Tailor your sales activities, surveys and executional metrics to only your key drivers.

GreatVines is designed to be intuitive, making it easy for every user to move naturally through familiar industry choices. What you need to know (and even some things you didn’t know you can keep track of easily) are all accounted for as you make your way through the program. A quick way to decrease user adoption is to ask them to track details about an Account that are never reported on. Knowing whether a particular outlet has a cold box, or the width of the back bar, is only useful if you target activities and promotions to those Accounts via reporting. While one extra field is generally harmless, resist the temptation to track EVERYTHING just because you can. Focus on simplifying the data collection process to support only your key sales drivers, adding more data dimensions over time.

Train online when possible. Dedicate breakout sessions during in-person meetings.

A typical training session takes place online through GoToMeeting, saving everyone from having to travel or sit through day-long seminars. The sessions are archived for easy referral, and once the initial training takes place, clients are able to go right to work on it. They can train in the morning and start surveying accounts in the afternoon! This is followed up with an additional short training and Q&A session that really rounds out the knowledge they need to begin being more effective.

It is truly a “learn as you go” system, recognizing that people learn most effectively and comfortably when they take intuitive steps. You crawl before you walk, and walk before you run. Don’t let fear of a complicated program or a time-consuming back-to-school marathon keep you tied down to a system that doesn’t meet your needs. GreatVines provides quick, easy and intuitive training that will have people up and running on day one.  After all, it’s designed by sales people for sales people.

April 8, 2014 · by Tim Jones · Mobile, Sales Strategy

GreatVines Survey FeatureLots of companies do surveys. Surveying is important, especially at the beginning of key selling periods to drive execution, but most companies do it all wrong and waste the effort they put into the survey.

You have a push to get displays, so you do a survey to check display activity in accounts. You want presence in a well, on a backbar, or a cocktail menu so you survey for that as well. However, most companies don’t maximize their survey efforts. They survey, and forget about it until all the surveys results have been rolled up into a massive spreadsheet (some weeks later) and the volume results for the month are reported to answer the question “how well did we execute this season?” Which is great for analysis… after the fact.

The better reason to survey is to drive the actual execution during the season to get the most out of the selling opportunity. At GreatVines, we believe the survey is an execution tool, not just a measurement tool. Our application enables your company to use Surveys to improve your execution at point of sale.

Key steps to using a survey to drive execution

  1. Create Surveys by Account Segment (or even Chain specific) with “target” answers and “points” awarded for “correct” answers.
  2. Target accounts to survey – don’t let reps and distributors take you to “pet” accounts that really aren’t that important.
  3. Survey accounts using a simple, slick iPad app! That runs on-line or off!
  4. Immediately review survey results and set actionable objectives to achieve in the account… while you are still in the account! Share objectives with your distributor to collaborate on execution follow up.
  5. Create a “journey plan” by adding the accounts with open objectives to your calendar.
  6. Track and measure your results against each objective (“wins”), then re-survey accounts and track the trend in scores.

If you utilize GreatVines to follow this Survey methodology, you are sure to gain incremental sales from increased execution at point of sale.

February 6, 2014 · by Tim Jones · Sales Strategy

Many companies in our industry are doing things the old fashioned way. Their common practice is to review monthly reports of sales summarized by geography and or product, then react by applying pressure to “do better” down the chain of command. At best, they get the same old results. At worst, they get run over by the more progressive and nimble competitors. We see the same thing happening with both small and large companies who use this old fashioned approach.

October 17, 2013 · by Jim Thompson · Sales Strategy
Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 5.56.25 PM

GreatVines Mobile Survey

Thanks to new mobile-friendly technologies from Adobe (PhoneGap) and (Mobile SDK) companies like GreatVines are able to provide groundbreaking new applications which leverage the latest tablets and cellular networks to provide seamless business value in the trade. This blog, written by our CTO Jim Thompson and published by, explores the key concepts behind mobile web surveys for retail and the impact it can have on CPG as a whole.

Read the full blog on

January 4, 2013 · by Tim Jones · General, Sales Strategy, Technology

I loved Richard Branson’s recent article, “Why aren’t more business leaders online?” While he is mostly referring to executives aversion to social media (only 16% of executives are using social media), he also indicates the lack of ambition by these executives to utilize technology in general. There is a “surprising lethargy about using the online tools already available”. In his opinion, and mine, this is a big mistake. If your answer to the question “How am I using the latest technology to improve my business?” is, “I check my email on my iPhone”, then you are missing the boat. State of the art cloud computing systems and mobile business applications can make your business much more efficient, collaborative and productive. And, the tools are here NOW. As Branson says, “Anyone who thinks new technology isn’t going to keep changing the world has got their head in the sand”. Don’t be late to the game.


December 5, 2011 · by Jim Thompson · Clients, Sales Strategy

We are thrilled to be highlighted by one of our craft beer suppliers today in the Craft Business Daily email newsletter! Thanks to Marty, Andy and Jenn for the love.

One Winner on 2012 Execution

December 5, 2011

Dear Client:

The end of 2011 is nigh. Planning for 2012 is [or should be, mostly] done. Now comes the hard part: Execution. The execs at CBA are in the thick of that, and have been all year. For it took more than lofty brands and plans to start the turnaround of Widmer, and kickstart Redhook full-year growth after 5 years of relative languish. It took technology. It took speaking Wholesaler. It took turning branding into something tangible. It took, to be emphatic, execution.

Here, the leaders of CBA on how they did it, and how they will continue to do it next year.

TERRY AND MARTY ON EXECUTING WITH THE RIGHT TECHNOLOGY: “What it takes is the right people, the right structure,” says CEO Terry Michaelson. “The fact is this business is getting more complex. Craft used to be about taking draft craft to on-premise accounts, and relationships. Honestly now if you’re going to be successful in any scope, you’ve got to have technology too. We’ve got CRM systems that allow us to track what we’re doing with our customers, our planning process; our people all sit down, marketing and sales, to talk about how the brands come alive.”

We can point to their use of as a primary example of what Terry is talking about. The CRM tool helps CBA leadership track sales guys in the field, grab national and custom reports like shipments and STRs at a glance, and share notes among themselves and with linked-up distributors. All in a social-media friendly, non-invasive layout reminiscent of a Facebook wall ticker. The field sales team are all plugged into this matrix with laptops, iPads and smartphones.

VP of sales Marty Wall says the technology is of utmost importance to their small but far-flung company. “I believe that we need to push use of technology to be on the leading edge and to attract the type of people that can be nimble and innovative enough to grow in a competitive marketplace,” he says.

They just recently got all the pieces of the puzzle. “We use GreatVines, a software provider, which has a platform that integrates with to work efficiently in the 3-tier system, accessed through any internet portal,” Marty says. “This is important because I tried to use other CRM software over a 7-8 year period, but we could never quite get it right until we started working with a provider who understood 3-tier. The distributors are our connection to retail and we needed to find a solution with a provider that actually understood [that].”

Their supply chain logistics have become more efficient and service-centric as well. Last year CBA hired supply chain director Kyle Jennings to help nail special programs and seasonal fluctuations for their almost 500-strong seamless distributor network. Potential out of stocks are supposed to be pinged before they come to fruition. And there’s an emphasis on fresh beer, more than ever – distributors’ cash isn’t tied up for long, and neither is their warehouse space. That’s the goal, anyway. Service orientation all around. The big craft guys are realizing they need to think this way if they’re going to lead.

REDHOOK AND THE IMPORTANCE OF PROPER BRANDING EXECUTION. Says president of commercial operations Andy Thomas: “We’re going to be doing more with Redhook bottles because we believe that what makes Redhook different is the personality [wait for flippant billboards and POS next year. One ad: 'Unlike your ex, it won't get fat and bitter.']. The personality doesn’t come through unless you hold the bottle, see the label, see the funny things the weatherman is doing on it. If we don’t get the bottle into people’s hands, they’re not going to get the joke. Because we’re speaking someone else’s language. We’re trying to get them to understand why this blonde kind of lager is better than this blonde kind of lager that is $2 cheaper. In any category, people drink the brand. They taste the beer – that’s critical to that higher-end consumer – but they drink the brand. We’ve got to get wholesalers and retailers to understand what makes us different too.”

ANDY ON EXECUTING ON THE RIGHT LANGAUGE IN 3 TIERS: “We hammer the whole gross margin point. We’ve got a slide that shows what $48 in gross margin looks like for a wholesaler. These numbers are directional, but it’s something like 34 cases of Natural Light 30-packs, or 20 cases of Bud Light 30-packs, or 9 cases of one of our core beers, or 4 cases of the [Widmer] 924 series. Or 1 case of the Brothers Reserve.”

Andy also tells the story of a Northern California wholesaler with whom CBA had to overcome a sort of dialectal barrier: “We weren’t speaking the right language. He was about gross margin. We were allowing him to talk about gross margin in terms of front-line pricing, when our whole thing was about mix. So we didn’t do a good enough job translating that high-end product mix equals gross margin. Because he lived in the world of higher front line, higher per-case margin equals gross margin. It was a matter of us [all] understanding that.”

EXECUTING ‘BIG’ CRAFT’S BIG TASK. “We have to figure out how, as we grow, we continue to do the things we need to do to be competitive with big boys but not lose our soul,” Andy says. “Kurt and Rob [Widmer] are critical to that. Folks like Mattson [Davis, of Kona] are critical to that. Understanding the origins of Redhook and letting it be quirky is critical to making sure our brands stay as crafty and small and soulful as they can be while our company continues to get bigger and more efficient. It’s about separating CBA from CBA brands. CBA brands should always be small, soulful, crafty, authentic. Our company should turn into a pretty well-oiled machine. We understand the trade, we can go toe-to-toe with big guys in terms of the way we work with people; we should be able to be more flexible because we’re smaller. But the combination of those two things is what should distinguish us: The CBA model.”

February 19, 2011 · by Tim Jones · Sales Strategy

When you are in sales, time is money.  The more time you spend selling, versus other administrative activities, the more you will sell.  So, what are the 3 things sales reps absolutely need at their fingertips to make the best use of their time and sell more cases?  You may be surprised at whats possible, and that we are doing it.

February 19, 2011 · by Tim Jones · Sales Strategy
  1. What is your most important sales initiative this year? Do you have measurable goals in place that indicate your success and how are you doing against those goals?
  2. Which are the most important accounts for your brands? “Fine dining” doesn’t cut it. Do you have a list of specific target accounts?
  3. Has your brand been presented to the buyers in these accounts?  When?  By whom?  What was the response from the buyer?
  4. What is the buyers name and email address in these accounts? Does she/he have current and relevant information about your brand and what you have to offer?
  5. Is your brand in distribution in these accounts?  When was the last time they bought?  Are your sales up or down versus last year or last quarter?
  6. Is your brand featured on the menu in these accounts?  Have you surveyed the account to inspect your presence, pricing, visibility and that of your competition?
  7. Has the staff of these accounts been educated about your brand and are they motivated to sell it?  When was the last account visit?
  8. What are the names of the distributor sales reps in these accounts and do they know about your latest promotions, accolades, tasting notes, available POS, pricing, advertising, cocktail recipes, food pairings and other information that will help them sell the brand?
  9. Have you spent money to promote your brand in these accounts, what are the results and what is the ROI?
  10. What are the most effective activities your sales team can implement to drive your success against this initiative?  What are the key learnings, best practices and success stories?

If you cannot answer these questions, then you do not have enough control of the execution of your most strategic initiatives. A plan is only as good as the execution. Greatvines helps you execute with excellence.

October 21, 2010 · by Tim Jones · Sales Strategy

We believe that GreatVines is game changing for the Alcoholic Beverage industry because it brings best-of-breed CRM with Business Intelligence and Sales Management capabilities such as Sales Goals and Activity Goals. So many of these tactics are managed through conversation and spreadsheet today, leaving little room for accountability and too much room for inconsistency. These three simple steps can be Transformational for suppliers and distributors of all sizes. Set your goals and objectives, follow the progress of your Sales team and report on the numbers, all from one convenient solution.

Planning is the easy part, but often not done completely.  What are the KPI’s (key performance indicators) for your brands and people, and have they been communicated?  What are the budgets and programs available to the sales team?  GreatVines enables goals to be set for shipments, depletions, RAD/Accounts Sold, as well as activity goals like number of staff training’s, new cocktail menus or by the glass placements.

Managing is the execution piece, and the most critical.  It’s typically done on the fly.  Managers and reps need visibility into their plans, goals, results, target, sold and unsold accounts, activities and other analytic reports and dashboards to be able to execute efficiently.  What accounts are you targeting to deliver your plan?  Have they been presented to?  Where are your best opportunities.  What are the best practices that can be shared to the rest of the team?  You may have the best tasting brand in the world, with a great plan, and lots of resources, but if you don’t execute your plan with excellence, you will not achieve your potential.  Its all about execution.

Measurement is not just a nice to have, it is required to manage your business.  GreatVines delivers state of the art analytics backed right into the solution.  Don’t just review macro reports on your business, but view dashboards on every account in the system.  We deliver visibility like you have never seen in this industry!

September 21, 2010 · by Tim Jones · Sales Strategy, Technology

It’s all about market share.  Here is how I learned that.  I “grew up” in the wine & spirits industry in New York, working for and with some of the biggest and best companies, brands and distributors in the business.  I was groomed by some incredible people from the old Charmer Industries in New York.  While I spent most of my time in meetings and offices, I learned the most important lessons while on the street working directly with key accounts and with distributor sales reps.  There are lots of acronyms used in this business, BDN, IRC, ROI, and of course the infamous RIP, however one acronym that was NEVER used was CRM.  I didn’t know what it was until I saw brand managers including CRM programs in their consumer marketing plans.  That got me thinking about how we could use CRM to drive sales to the trade.  15 years later, we finally have a platform to deliver a CRM tool that wine & spirits sales reps can leverage to sell more cases.  It’s called GreatVines.

The most important thing I learned in my time selling on the streets was that your relationships were the most important factor in how many cases you sold.  There was a direct correlation between the strength of your relationship with a buyer and how many cases he would buy from you.  What most marketers and executives didn’t realize was that the consumer demand for a particular product was actually not the most important factor in the sale, but the second.  Sure a retailer has to carry the category leader, but he doesn’t need to promote it.

Distributors are in front of buyers all day long.  How are they using technology to manage their customers, their relationships, their business. Distributors need more than just an order entry app. It’s time for real CRM in beverage alcohol distribution.  It’s time for GreatVines.  Those distributors that adopt this approach will gain a competitive advantage and increase their market share.

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