The Merchant23 Blog


Aug 14, 2019 4:35:18 PM / by Cyrus Azari


typical outbound sales call for a wine distributor

Typical outbound sales person going to a call

The wine industry is rapidly changing. Distributors are consolidating, and the little producers are getting snuffed out. Outbound sales, a very very prominent method of sales in the wine industry, is also dying. Decorum and sales methods are rapidly changing in the wine industry.  


Change = opportunity. How can you take advantage of this? 


Start with asking yourself some questions. Do you have a sale person, or do sales yourself? Do you find yourself picking up the phone and calling wine wholesalers, wine distributors, retailers, liquor stores, restaurants, etc. between 2 pm - 5 pm asking to talk to the wine director/beverage manager/sommelier/chef/taster/etc? Do  go to calls dragging a wine tote with you? Or go to roll calls or open pourings at the latest wine festival? Or fly out to another state to do another presentation on your dime?


Is it the most thankless form of B.S one can endure? This is outbound sales. It relies on a salesperson to go in and convince the buyer to speak with them, allowing them to showcase how great the product is in quality, terroir, and how your family has a heartfelt legacy and blah blah blah its fabulous wine. 


This approach has terrible conversion rates. It's a lousy return on investment. I'm Cyrus Azari, and I did it for my families winery. Its tough work, its hard work, and it's not very rewarding work when all said and done.


I've had reps drive to the state of NEVADA, from SONOMA, on my company's dime. Are you kidding me? $500 to make $300. Outbound sales are miserable. 


There is a better way. Its called inbound sales. It allows YOU to target which customers you want for wine distribution. Instead of casting a wide net to the general tri-city area, laser guide those 750ml bottles to the right person. Wine sales need not be so hard. 


Stop thinking about how you or salesperson needs to make a quote, how you or salesperson has fantastic exceptional terroir inspired advent guard wine, or how you or salesperson can convince prospects to buy. GET AWAY FROM ME, SALESPERSON!


Wine wholesalers, wine distributors, retailers, restaurants, wine shops, wine bars, liquor retailers, etc. are sick of it. Have I told you how salespersons are seen as Jehovah's Witnesses in this industry? Buyers are busy selling to consumers or dealing with diners, or this, or their aunt's kidney transplant, etc. The last thing they want is to deal with is roll call, or the 2 pm rush of salespeople after having JUST navigated the hell that is the lunch rush/evening rush/dealt with the Q2 financials, etc. 

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But what if you flipped the script. Instead of thinking about how you can close this person with your wine, think about how you can help this person. By coming in with a helpful approach, you can better qualify your prospects, meaning no more wide net, and more laser-guided 750ml missile bottles of lucrativity.


Do you see an actual way for the buyer to benefit from having your product? Or are you trying to fit a square peg into a round hole? What does your product do for the buyer that is going to help their business, (or your customer. This method doesn't apply to just trade-to-trade, you know)


Are you manufacturing or just plain not addressing a problem? 


What if you began prospecting by looking for buyers that are suffering from a business problem that you could solve? Create a "buyer persona" of what your ideal customer looks like. Maybe wine distributors aren't for you! Perhaps you're better suited for retailers, or restaurants, or wine wholesalers! Aim your 750ml missiles at the person most likely to buy it! 


Helping, instead of trying to sell, completely changes the conversation with buyers. Try to understand the pain points the business has: what keeps them up at night? What are their goals? What has failed for them before, and what has their experience been with other sellers? 


Listening to the buyer allows a better chance for a call back because of how demonstrated how you are trying to help instead of line your pockets with their cash. Put the buyer's needs first, understand their specific goals, and tailor your product to be aligned with their goals. 


Wine distributors, wine wholesalers, retailer, restaurants, wine bars, etc. all know what their problems are better than you. They are already doing research on their issues, and are already 57% of the way towards making a decision. The digital age has made it so more accessible than ever to learn about a brand and what their reputation is. 


Now, how can your Pinot Noir help solve some pain points? How can you help a prospect with your wine? Wine sales have changed. Total Wine and More is killing it and becoming a severe threat to chains across the nation. Specs and Total are battling in Texas as we speak! 


Its because Total Wine's winery direct program is giving them a huge competitive advantage. Retailers across the nation are struggling to keep up. This has created an impetuous for buyers to start looking for solutions. In today's digital age, it's possible to do your own marketing and sales directly to retailers, restaurants, hotels, restaurant groups, etc. across the nation. 


Groups like the Wine and Spirits Alliance and Wine and Spirits Guild are helping enable a more direct relationship with retailers, restaurants, etc. across the nation. Distributors are becoming more open to helping wineries with clearing product into states compliant as it allows them a revenue stream without the sales and marketing costs. 


Doing your own sales and marketing in an inbound way across the breadth of the United States is a smart way to increase your wine sales. Treasury Wine Estates is doing it! 


If you effectively approach your target customers (be they restaurants, retailers, distributors, consumers, etc.) in a helpful way (because you've researched what their pain points are), you can start accelerating your wine sales. It has never been easier to create personalized messages at scale to reach a target customer. Become more buyer centric in your focus and ask yourself how you can better help serve their needs and interests - and its never been easier with how winery direct is changing the nature of the industry!


We touched up on a lot of topics in this article. If you want a more in-depth analysis of winery direct and the age of inbound and what it means for the alcohol industry we have an eBook on the matter that gives you a how-to on the subject matter. Check it out below!


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Topics: Winery-Direct wine sales outbound inbound Wine distributors

Written by Cyrus Azari

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