Should you engage a best-in-class solution to automate each specific facet of your organization’s beverage sales and marketing activities? Or does it make more sense to implement an integrated solution, configured to address your specific needs? This is a question facing many suppliers and distributors seeking to modernize their beverage selling practices and processes. Here’s some perspective on making this decision.
Technologies evolve over time as each new innovation rests atop the discoveries and breakthroughs of those which preceded them. Consider that folks used to own telephones, cameras, portable music devices, encyclopedias, calendars, calculators, clocks, rolodexes, flashlights, photo albums, and personal computers. They’d use each of these items as needed, but they certainly wouldn’t ever consider carrying all these devices and tools around with them everywhere they went. Today, all these useful tools and scores more are – courtesy of technological advances – integrated into a single 8-ounce device that billions of persons worldwide carry with them, in their pants pocket, everywhere they go.
The same technological convergence that squeezed a room full of objects into a single device is happening in the field of sales automation for the beverage alcohol industry. For years, computing solutions have existed to address many of the processes involved in selling beverages. There are tools to automate and report out on depletions. There are well-established providers of survey automation solutions. No shortage exists of customer relationship management (CRM) tools, order entry computer systems, or pricing tools. Each of these critical processes had been a time-consuming and labor intensive task before the best-of-breed solution emerged from competing providers to take its place at the top everyone’s list.
Most folks are willing to forgo the nominal (and diminishing) advantage of the best-of-breed experience in exchange for the far more beneficial convenience of portability and flexibility.
Yet, the relentless march of technological innovation is consolidating these sales functions just as the personal handheld device has reduced the need to own all the tools listed above. Leading edge solutions like the GreatVines beverage selling platform offer a fully integrated and modular solution with functionality to address all the elements commonly associated with successful beverage sales and marketing as you need them – sales execution, trade marketing, survey analytics, pricing optimization, depletion reporting, and more.
Of course, many of the best of breed solution providers, understanding the trend towards convergence, have taken steps to add features and functionality to their best-in-class, single-focus offerings addressing business challenges that were previously outside their purview. With varying degrees of success expanding their usefulness beyond their original focus, many are still best known for the functions they were originally designed to address.
For some customers who may not need a tool for all the elements listed above, it may seem more practical to engage a solution from various providers to address, say, the two most mission-critical elements of their operations. This however requires custom integration between solutions from different providers. The thinking being that a best-in-class solution in each area is best suited to provide deep and robust core functionality. To revisit the earlier analogy, this is like deciding that an encyclopedia and photo albums with color, glossy prints are going to provide greater detail and a richer experience than Wikipedia and the photo gallery on a smartphone. The downside is having to carry around dozens of heavy books.
Moreover, the fully integrated platform (like GreatVines) has proven to provide results every bit as positive as each of the best-of-breed offerings in each of the functional areas of the solution. Plus, because it is a leading-edge technology, built to be an integrated alternative to the costly practice of stitching together several disparate solutions, the GreatVines platform delivers some forward-thinking strategies not offered by legacy, single function, best-of-breed tools. Chief among these is the ability to integrate leading versus lagging sales data with spend metrics to yield far better strategic planning and execution. Plus, adopting the integrated solution only requires dealing with a single provider for improved accountability, costs far less in integration/implementation and maintenance and can be scaled vertically and horizontally as your business dictates, without breaking a sweat.