On the show today, we have Luke Lahman, who is the field marketing manager for E&J Gallo. If you’re not already familiar, Gallo is the largest producer of wine in the world, and they own and distribute a number of the popular wine and spirit brands you’ll see at most liquor and grocery stores, like Barefoot, Apothic, and New Amsterdam Vodka.
From being on the front lines to training and managing over 30 salespeople, Luke has spent his career in the industry, where he’s really making a name for himself.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- How to hire and motivate a strong sales team
- What’s a recipe for success when it comes to in-store marketing
- What trends are emerging in the wine and spirits industry
And plenty more… So let’s go chat with Luke.
When Luke started with Gallo he was straight out of college, and had no wine experience. He’s now managing over 30 salespeople…and is a certified wine specialist.
For Gallo, what you know about wine isn’t necessarily as important as what you know about sales. Luke explains that you can teach anyone wine, but it’s much harder to teach them what exactly it takes to sell.
Gallo first puts employees through extensive sales training, and then throws them into the field. Each rep is given a territory, and then they’re trained as they go. And though each sales person gets the same training, there are generalist, wine specialist, or spirits specialist. Because buyers may not be as willing to buy a $100 bottle from the rep who just tried to sell them a $5 bottle.
Luke has three requirements that potential employees must meet. The first being, are they able to overcome adversity? Whether that be a stubborn buyer or a bad sales month, a sales rep has to be willing to work through these things.
Luke looks for leadership among future sales reps. Gallo believes in promoting from within, so strong leaders in the sales force are a must. And, while it is important for the sales reps brought on to be self-motivated, Gallo throws in some incentives to help, as well.
And then, there’s the sales personality. Luke says that when interviewing a person, he thinks about whether he could have a genuine conversation with this person for an hour. If he is seated next to this person on a plane, would it be an enjoyable conversation?
A sales personality is so important because it is a key ingredient in the recipe for success, in regards to in-store marketing.
According to Luke, there are five things to consider when entering a store that could potentially sell Gallo’s wine & spirits. These are distribution, shelf, cold box, display, and POS.
It’s important to take all of these things into consideration, because these are the factors that’ll affect your in-store marketing efforts. Is there a display? Where is it? Can your product be put in the cold box? If you’re an industry leader, what options are placed around you on the shelf?
And while delivering different promotional material and discounts is important, this is a highly competitive and highly regulated area of marketing, with regulations varying state-to-state. Because it is so competitive, the buyer-sales rep relationship is key.
Luke emphasizes that this is a very relationship-based industry. It is imperative that the sales rep build a relationship with each store, so that the store then in turn chooses to use Gallo’s promotional material over its competitor’s.
While there are a lot of regulations in place regarding in-store marketing, other regulations regarding wine & spirits in general are being lifted, hence opening up the market. Think: alcohol on Sundays, and for sale within grocery stores.
And with the market opening, there are definitely some new trends that Luke identifies.
With grocery stores now selling alcohol, one trend is that of distribution. Now, when a sales rep sells to one store, that store may have over 130 locations, rather than just a few.
Another trend that Luke discusses in the wine & spirits industry is premunization. Which basically means that consumers that used to buy a $7 bottle of wine are now buying a $15 bottle of wine, and consumers who once bought boxes are now buying bottles.
And, what kind of interview would this be without the mention of millennials? Luke explains how that, even if they try, there isn’t one meeting that goes by without millennials being discussed at least once.
Millennials are the target demographic. If you get them hooked on a product now, they’ll be consumers for life. And not only that, but millennials are trend setters, so through them you can gain even more consumers.
Luke left us with some awesome career advice. An idea is never too small. He says that he wished someone would’ve told him, that even when you are on the very ground level of a business, still to voice your ideas, because they are still just as important.
If you want to learn more about E&J Gallo, check out www.gallo.com.