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Should My Winery Use CRM Software?

Winery workers taking inventory of wine bottles with wine inventory software

Customers are the lifeblood of every business. To make your winery successful, you need to cultivate repeat customers and serve them effectively. 

If you sell directly to consumers online or self-distribute your wine to local restaurants, retailers, and bottle shops, then your customers go beyond the people drinking in your tasting room. In this piece, we’re talking about how you can streamline and organize customer information and set up processes that will help you sell more. 

Customer relationship management systems (CRMs) are software tools built to help you capture data and monitor your customers from initial contact through the transaction and back again. Here’s a quick introduction to whether a CRM is right for you.

Get more info about all the categories of winery software »

What Can a Winery CRM Do? 

CRMs provide visibility where you need it most: customer interactions. CRMs are essentially heavy-duty internal databases where you can store all your insights on customers, leads, and prospects and analyze them. Data can include basic information, such as addresses and contact information, or more nuanced notes like a buyer’s hobbies or when you should deliver to a loading dock. 

Popular, “big” CRM names include Salesforce and Oracle, but there are niche products specifically geared toward the alcohol industry and even wineries specifically.  

CRMs Keep You Organized

Organization is fundamental to providing excellent service. Storing account information in a convenient, secure location helps a wine business create continuity across sales and marketing teams and grow over time. For this reason, established businesses tend to use CRMs as their single source of truth for sales activities. 

Today, most well-regarded CRMs have some form of cloud-based functionality, which means you can access customer information on the go, an instant upgrade over storing information in paper files or, worse, in your head. Accessibility is crucial if you have sales representatives on the road or want the ability to do work on some DTC-related tasks from home. 

This level of organization gets even better with integration. There are many CRMs that are designed to work with your email provider to help you collect and organize messaging, schedule meetings, and track your overall cadence of correspondence. Employees can be observed in these systems as well, so you can see the complete picture of customer service. 

Together, these systems can help you make decisions with hard facts rather than guesstimates — an important step in maintaining or improving business success.

Reporting Is Where It’s At

The true power of CRMs lies in reporting. Once a winery has used a CRM for long enough, it can use the collected data to generate custom reports for deeper analysis. It can use these reports to determine which customers generate the most volume, which markets are doing well, and which employees are providing customers with white-glove service. 

This visibility allows you to monitor trends, create sales forecasts, and judge the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. CRMs provide many strategic insights you can’t garner any other way. In many cases, the right CRM can empower a sales team to spot and land new opportunities because of easy-to-access reports.

CRMs Cost Time & Money 

CRMs do require a significant investment, and when it comes to standalone systems, you get what you pay for. Some have free or modest pricing tiers, while more robust enterprise-level systems can cost upwards of thousands of dollars a year. Often, CRMs are priced as a yearly subscription and per individual license. 

Before you take the plunge on a CRM, take a moment to reflect on how it will fit within your business and who truly needs to use the software on a consistent basis. Onboarding employees to a new system requires a lot of manhours, sometimes entire days, depending on how deep their engagement will be. 

Like much of sales and marketing, CRMs are about playing the long game, so it can sometimes take a while to recoup that investment. They also require you to stay diligent about documentation to prove worthwhile, so think of CRM as a continuous discipline that gets better with practice. 

Consider All Your Options

Because CRMs are high-ticket items, small businesses don’t always spring for standalone systems right away. In fact, 44% of wineries report using no CRM solution according to our research. But these businesses are still paying attention to customer data.

Many producers prefer to use winery management software to capture this information. Business management software is a simple solution that allows you to keep all your customer interactions, production, accounting, and inventory data in one convenient place with much of the same reporting functions. Using a single system, you can track each customer and their order flow from end-to-end to generate a true snapshot of your business. With time, you can spot patterns and forecast sales for different varietals, blends, or specialty wines. This visibility and control can help your winery transform into a smooth, predictable operation. 

Overall, business management software can act as a helpful starting point for establishing a base layer of customer insights and standard processes until a standalone CRM makes sense. This approach tends to be a good fit for lean teams where employees wear many hats, and it’s an approach that lends itself to cross-training. And in the meantime, you can expect customers to appreciate the extra attention.

Learn more about the different types of winery software »

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