Posted by: drewdice | August 10, 2011

Tending to your sales vineyard

JoAnn and I just got back from a trip to Napa a few days ago – what a great trip! Among other things, we toured some fantastic wineries – many of which were off the normal radar of folks who wanted to tour the ‘big boys’ of Napa Valley.

As some of hosts were explaining how their vineyards were started, tended to, expanded, and run, I couldn’t help but think how this was, in many ways, analagous to the growth of a sales team. Here are a few points for your consideration:

– Did you know that there are over 60 soil variations in which vineyards are grown and run? In some cases, there are dramatic soil differences in vineyards that border each other – so close in proximity, yet yielding dramatically different wines – seeing the actual soil samples and tasting the wines blew me away.

THE POINT: In sales organizations, properly doing a territory framework/plan can shed light onto key factors that may drive differing results from one part of a region to the next. How are you and your team analyzing your soil?

-Almost every host spoke to the notion of not overwatering the grapes, and creating a situation where the grapes and vines actually compete for sunlight and water – the result of which is not producing oversized grapes with less taste, but rather smaller grapes that have much more robust components. You can actually see this in the way some of the vineyards are constructed.

THE POINT: Do you know what results you seek from your sales team (bigger, fatter grapes in higher volume, or fewer grapes that produce uncommonly spectacular tasting wine)? Either strategy can work for a growing business, but there are definitely different strategies connected to either path. This would include selection of sales people, go to market strategies, offerings and incentive compensation.

-The vineyards we toured, almost to a one, spoke of their desire to be exclusive – only producing 1,200 – 1,400 cases of wine (in some cases, a particular blend, and in other cases, this was the total annual volume), as opposed to some of the larger vineyards, which produce upwards of 40,000 cases per year.

THE POINT: This also speaks to overall business and sales strategy and knowing the goals and outcomes that a sales team needs to produce. Having clear intent creates a well aligned organization with sales professionals who know what kind(s) of business to pursue and what type of business does not fit the business model. Is your sales team clear?

Building a high performing sales team, in so many ways, is like owning your own vineyard. Are you producing the vintage you desire?



  1. It never ceases to amaze me how simple the concept of having a clear and defined goal is. And it is something everyone knows, I remember learning this in one of my business classes my sophomore year. Yet business execution always seems poor. I am guilty of this as well. In my experience I have found that even when I think I have clear goals that our team does not share that sentiment with me. As with anything in business it comes down to communication. Businesses have to use a variety of techniques to effectively communicate the goals within the organization. As always great article Andrew, always gets my mind moving on Monday!

  2. Thanks for checking in, Khadir, and I am glad to have the opportunity to help you get your week rolling!

    Are you right about the topic of execution – almost every organization has a strategy – where they fall down is in the implementation and execution. Awareness of this should provide the opportunity to do better.

    Keep me posted on how you are progressing!

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