Case study

Cave Direct

How Skynamo helps reps to do more of what they do best – sales!

Cave Direct is a family-owned importer and wholesale distributor of speciality and craft beer across the length and breadth of the UK. Pubs, bars, restaurants, bottle shops, web shops and even supermarkets are part of the approximately 5,000 customers the company supplies – anyone involved in the hospitality trade, essentially.

“We have exclusive breweries that we import under contract, so Paulaner, Kona and Lervig are exclusive to Cave Direct. These are accompanied by a brilliant range of beers from America, Europe, Scandinavia as well as a UK range” says Laurence Smale, the company’s Head of Sales. “We have about 250 products that are permanently available, and then another additional 100 to 150 rotational beers that come in every week.”

That large cohort of customers is serviced by a sales team of just 12, 11 of whom are in the field, and a national accounts manager who deals with larger groups. “They each look after a region, so we’ve got one in Scotland, Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Wales, Bristol, the West Midlands, two in London, one in Essex, one covering Southeast, and then the home counties as well. They’re all across the whole of the UK,” he adds.

Cave Direct was introduced to Skynamo by its Acumatica service providers. “When Skynamo first arrived in the UK, they said there was this really hot plugin we could use for Acumatica,” he recalls. “And the main thing for us was being able to integrate with the systems that we currently had. Once we were presented with what Skynamo can do, we were pretty sold.”

Laurence says a major selling point was the potential reduction in daily admin they could foresee. “The team have so many different conversations in so many different accounts that it’s key for us to find out what’s being spoken about, what’s working and where. So, to be able to input that information on the fly was vital, because by the time you got back to the office, a lot of the time you’d forget about half the stuff you’d spoken about during calls.

“Also, for the team to have all the sales and stock data when they’re out on trade was key. We have such a fluid operation in terms of beers coming in, customers signing up and conversations to be had, that they need that information as and when they’re out and about.”

This was Cave Direct’s first experience of a mobile field sales app; before Skynamo they had only used Acumatic for CRM, which was all desktop based. “Come four or five o’clock, you’d have to load up the laptop and try to input everything that you’ve been speaking about, so this was much easier,” says Laurence.

Having the ability to input data on the go allows reps to focus on selling, he says – a key consideration for the team. “If you’re a field rep, nine times out of 10, you don’t like being sat at a desk,” he says. “You’d rather be out and about, talking to customers. And then for the managers, it’s allowed us to get an overview of what’s happening out in the field, which really helps to structure the conversations we have with the team.

“We have all the information at our fingertips, and it’s a conversation of sales support, as opposed to questioning why something hasn’t been done or what’s been going on. You have the information before you go into a meeting, which is great.”

Another useful feature is the in-built reports, he says. “We use them as much as we can. We don’t currently have a sales call frequency report on the team. But we obviously look at where they’ve been going and what accounts they’ve been going into. There are also a couple of bespoke reports that we’ve tried to get off the ground, which we’re currently working on.”

Implementation has gone as well as can be expected, he adds. “We’ve had quite a personal connection with the Skynamo team in the UK. And obviously, being in such a people’s industry, we are people’s people. So we would like to speak to someone – an actual person. They were great in the setting up of Skynamo, and to have that personal touch has been great. And then the ongoing training with the online portal has been a real help to get any questions answered from the team pretty quickly too.”

"And the main thing for us was being able to integrate with the systems that we currently had. Once we were presented with what Skynamo can do, we were pretty sold."

Of course, when there are changes, there’s always some resistance, but Laurence says how you manage the process can help to smooth things over. “Some people thought it was going to be a Big Brother-like system, and that we would be tracking them, but we just need all the information from the trades,” he says.

“So, again, how we structure our conversations is around asking how we can make this better. Or, if we notice something is happening at a particular client, we can offer help. So it’s more of a sales support, rather than coming down on the team and saying, ‘Why haven’t you done 50 calls a day?’ Obviously there were some questions at the outset, but on the whole it was well received.”

Skynamo has allowed the team to focus their conversations, he explains, so they’ve seen growth in terms of their core business. For this they use the forms section quite a lot. “We have win-and-loss forms, customer complaint forms, new brewery line forms… And that’s really allowed us to get a real oversight of the trade and see what’s working where and why it is or isn’t. So in terms of communication, that’s been a great help.”

It’s also helped to get better coverage of customers, Laurence says, because when you’re looking after 500 to 700 customers in a particular area, it’s easy to lose sight of who needs some attention. “It’s just a good, gentle reminder that you haven’t seen a particular customer in a while, and you need to pop in,” he says.

Coming out of Covid-19, he adds, Skynamo helped them to canvass their customers through forms and surveys so that they could forecast what they needed to order from the breweries, which helped them to keep a tight grip on the whole of the trade and their customer base.

Laurence concludes by saying that Skynamo’s personal touch extended beyond onboarding to helping the company to get through the pandemic. “They shared information on how other people were using Skynamo, which was a great help, and then obviously shared how we were using it with other customers, which was a nice touch.”