The Ernest and Julio Gallo Winery leads the world in the art and science of grape growing and winemaking. The company markets and distributes its wines in more than 90 countries, offering table wines, sparkling wines and distilled spirits for a broad range of consumer tastes, including award-winning fine wines and popularly priced wines.
Gallo’s goal is to become the most innovative global marketer and distributor of wines. Since the company’s inception in 1933, Gallo has provided its customers with quality products, continually responding to changes in the market to achieve its stated vision and mission.
During the past few decades, Gallo has earned a reputation as a provider of popular-priced wines. In 1993, Gallo expanded its product line to include premium wines that are among the best-in-class. Gallo’s challenge was to establish a sales force that was effectively trained to promote and position its broad range of products. Gallo needed to implement a sales training program that would enable its sales force and distributors to effectively sell all wine varietals to all customers. Furthermore, Gallo’s customers span those with very little knowledge of wine to enthusiasts with a much deeper comprehension.
Historically, Gallo’s sales training consisted of instructor-led presentations. A traveling sales team conducted classes using slide presentations (and later, PowerPoint presentations), videos and wine-tasting sheets that supplemented in-class instruction. While Gallo’s sales training was recognized as the best in the industry, it still encountered a number of limitations:
- A limited number of qualified instructors meant that only 15 percent of the sales team received product training.
- Travel costs were frequently too high for instructors and training participants.
- Travel and time away from selling yielded less productivity from the sales team.
- Due to technological limitations, it was challenging to offer real-world demonstrations, for example, of the inner workings of a wine press.
Gallo concluded that it needed a modernized training program that would teach job performance skills to the sales team and ultimately boost its bottom line. Equally important, Gallo needed a training program that would communicate brand identity and leadership position to the industry, deliver key messages through its often-complex distribution channel and change customers’ perception of Gallo from a producer of inexpensive wines to a purveyor of high-quality, premium wines.
Gallo set out to design an online training solution that would provide a valuable and measurable learning experience for its sales representatives, was available anytime and anywhere and was cost-effective to produce and maintain.
Gallo Wine Academy turned to Knowledge Anywhere to create an e-learning sales training Web site for Gallo employees and distributors. The site was developed to simulate the job responsibilities of a Gallo sales representative. The program is the most preferred source for all information about Gallo’s fine wines and includes comprehensive online coursework, job aids and documents.
Gallo was able to realize its goal of improving sales early on during a pilot of the sales training Web site. The pilot was made available to sales representatives in five U.S. markets. After four months, Gallo compared the sales of the popular Rancho Zabaco label with sales of five control markets that did not receive the online training. The increase in the number of retailers carrying Rancho Zabaco was 30 percent greater in the online sales training markets than in the control markets. The four-month increase in actual sales was 25 percent greater in the online training markets.
The successful online-learning site has enabled more revenue-generating opportunities for sales representatives due to the availability of high-quality programming that can be updated instantly and globally. A complex interactive training simulation can be implemented, engaging users with interactive exercises, animations and the ability to listen to audio and download job aids, increasing the company’s effectiveness.
Due to the e-learning accomplishments of the Gallo Wine Academy, Gallo has earned the partnership of the Society of Wine Educators (SWE), one of the largest and most influential independent associations focused on wine learning for those who produce, sell or drink wine. SWE exists to promote accurate and professional wine education, and the partnership between SWE and Gallo Wine Academy is designed to help with the continual instruction of tens of thousands of wine students and professionals around the world.
Patrick D. Dodd, CWE, is director of marketing, Fine Wine Education and Training, Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery in Modesto, Calif. Pat oversees the Gallo Wine Academy, a program of wine appreciation training for distributors, customers and consumers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.