Wine has become synonymous with our culture. It is a drink that many indulge in while they relax in their homes, enjoy meals at restaurants, and celebrate special occasions. Even scientists claim that the resveratrol within red wines can lead to a healthy heart.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey of Barefoot Wine have spent 20 years building the famous brand that has done over a quarter of a billion dollars in sales for the last five years. Since selling their company to E&J Gallo, they have focused on helping millennials build and monetize their brand equity.
Most recently, Michael and Bonnie have spoken at more than 40 schools that teach entrepreneurship around the world.
Understanding that not everyone is able to create an enterprise that earns a quarter of a billion dollars each year, I asked them what entrepreneurs and small business owners could do to to maximize their chances of hitting this type of milestone.
They told me that they strongly believe that formal sales training should be a mandatory part of the curriculum that educational institutes teach.
Bottom line: They believe sales is the key to success.
These are their top 5 tips to creating a world renowned brand:
1. Forget "need to know" and embrace "know the need".
Michael states that most companies don't share how the money travels through the company. When this happens, most employees are completely clueless as to what exactly funds their salaries and keeps the company moving ahead. This, in turn, could lead to employees who are not motivated towards the success of their company.
By thoroughly orienting all new staff members on how the money travels from the eventual consumer through all the levels of distribution to eventually fund their salary, benefits, and bonuses, you are able to make everyone on your staff aware of your company's goals, challenges and opportunities.
In order to be a world renowned company, you need to dress for success with a company culture based on sales.
Michaels says the best way to do this is to create a solid platform for sales with a Two-Division Company: Sales and Sales Support. Put everyone who is not in Sales into Sales Support, including production, marketing, accounting, IT, legal, reception, the C-Suite, the Vice President, and even the President should be focused on selling at every opportunity they are given.
But you can't just assign sales as a duty for everyone. You need to reward them as well. Do that by giving out bonuses based on sales, growth and profitability.
Once you allow everyone to participate in sales solutions with a culture of permission that practices "know the need" rather than "need to know", you boost up your probabilities of success by keeping your team on the same page.
2. Solve their problem.
After your team is working together with a common goal in mind, that is when the real challenge comes: Getting customers.
When approaching a distributor or vendor, Michael recommends to use the world's best sales pitch: "I can help you sell your product!"
When you say this, this results in you getting the buying signal, "How?" and puts you on stage with the mic.
But you need to have a clear plan to action. Before approaching these companies, do your homework so you know how to best help them. Gain your prospect's trust by establishing you have their best interests at heart. Be an asset to your buyer by acting as an "assistant buyer".
Show empathy for your client's needs and challenges by demonstrating how your product can relieve their pain. Sell benefits over features, and value over price.
3. Understand why they buy.
Companies that sell directly to consumers are called B2C, but if you sell to another company, does that really mean you are B2B?
You may in fact be B2B2B2C because your products must pass through some form of a multi-leveled distribution system.
Each level buys for a different reason, and if any one of these sales is missed, you won't get the re-order.
Distributers, jobbers and brokers tend to buy for strategic reasons, such as how your product may give them an edge on their competition; but their sales managers are more concerned with achieving their sales goals, while their salespeople tend to be motivated by earning cash.
Retailers tend to be driven by fast moving products, but their clerks tend to be more interested in being appreciated for restocking and referrals.
The end-user or consumer tends to be motivated by quality, dependability, value and what the brand stands for socially.
Each party buys for a different reason, so you need to understand them all.
4. Understand when they buy.
Bonnie says that timing is everything. You must know when your customers are more likely to buy: a competitor just left and now there is an opening; it's the time of the year when they review all their products for future orders; or they have finally developed a relationship with you over time and now believe you are dependable.
The answers in sales are not necessarily "yes" or "no," but rather, "now" or "later."
Ask a different day, a different way, or to a different person. The only one who can say "no" is you - if you stop asking.
80 percent of sales are made after the 5th call.
5. Follow up or foul up!
Bonnie would send a post card thanking each of Barefoot's clients for the order. She knows it will stay out for all to see. On top of that, she circles back after the delivery to make sure her clients received what they ordered.
Bonnie says to make sure your buyers get all the supportive materials they need. Ensure they never run out of stock, miss a quantity purchase offer, or promotional opportunity.
But that's not all. No company is perfect. If and when any problems do arise, resolve them quickly by taking responsibility. Admit quickly to your mistakes, make restitution, and demonstrate why the mistakes will not be repeated again.
These five steps will help propel your business forward and give you a fighting shot at becoming a multi million dollar enterprise.
If you have achieved this type of success with your type of company, I'd love to hear about it! Comment below!