While this conversation is a huge passion for us at Astound Commerce and deserves an entire series of blog posts, it was the general confusion about the post-COVID, three-tier sales system that really fascinated us. While everyone was abuzz about the consumer potential of digital transformation, we felt less passionate about its commercial potential. Most wine brands derive 60 to 80 percent of their income through three-tier distribution, yet nobody was talking about ways to align sales enablement and acceleration with customer relationship management, sales and service support, outbound communication, sales data, and profitability. There was no plan for freeing inventory from closed restaurants, shifting mix to expand off-premise opportunities, altering depletion objectives or territory redistribution, or leveraging data and technology to get a better picture of what is happening market to market.
There seems to be the persistent and naive belief that it’s the distributor’s responsibility to build brands and gain market share. I can tell you from experience––and from conversations with executives from Southern to RNDC––it is not their job at all. Their job is to find placement opportunities for brands with reputations already built by producers. And the retailers will not build your brand either––they are building their own brands. Given the extended pandemic projections and what it means to our “new normal,” figuring out the three-tier landscape must be a priority.
This is where the enormous potential of digital transformation across all tiers comes into play. We are in the midst of a fundamental transformation in how we communicate. This transformation is about “people” and how we align around brand promises to build brand equity, and “21st-century platforms” that we leverage to gain that alignment and build that brand equity.
Astound Commerce has been focused on the “people and platforms” required to gain alignment, drive sales, and increase brand equity for the better part of a decade. It requires a consistent brand message and relevant related assets delivered on-demand to the people who need it, at the time they need it (“the moment of the sale”), and in the format that works for that particular selling scenario––be it a distributor representative doing an on-premise four glass tasting, chasing a store manager down the frozen food aisle, wait staff with customers at a fine dining establishment, or tasting room staff on your property. It also requires a delivery platform that allows single sign-on, authentication, permission-based access to content and assets, and real analytics and reporting to understand what messaging is working to generate the highest sales volume. Finally, it requires seamless integration with marketing automation and customer relationship technology to make it work.
Wingman was designed to help sales organizations––and their teams––improve sales performance. Our mission is to empower high performing, trusted advisors (more than just salespeople) across the value chain, aligning business intelligence and customer engagement to optimize every sales opportunity and drive incredible value into every sales call. We strategically align knowledge, news, digital assets, sales tools, and highly effective just-in-time training within a SaaS ecosystem connected to CRM and customize the experience for every user role, anywhere, any time, on any device.
While digital transformation has enormous consumer potential for everyone in the industry during this time of crisis, wine and spirits producers should not overlook the vital role three-tier digital transformation plays today. It’s the low hanging fruit for an incredible return on investment.