4 Ways DuClaw Works at Improving Sales Outlook

Using his previous experience as a beer buyer to help develop a sales strategy, the new Vice President of Sales for DuClaw Brewing, Brook Simmons, said it’s not anything too difficult to help a brewery evolve, grow and stay competitive.

“It sounds cliché but I think you have to know where you are to know where you want to go,” he said. “We make beer, so fundamentally, it starts with the liquid. It needs to be strong or there’s no point in going anywhere with it.”

Simmons was ​the ​sales manager for the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest territories​ previously with the Baltimore-based brewery and even before joining DuClaw, he had talked with founder Dave Benfield about ways the company could adapt after seeing sales begin to slow around five years ago.

​”​Before I worked for DuClaw, Dave and his team were working on turning things around; they had produced a Maibock that was just an almost perfect example by style guidelines,” Simmons said. “I was like, ‘This! Do this! This is where you need to start to bring people back to the brand, just solid well-made beer.’

​”​Know the rules, then break them.​”​

​Now as VP of sales, Simmons spent time as a buyer for beer stores like The Winking Lizard, The Anderson’s, and most recently, The Wine Source. So he knows what buyers want and has translated that into his own work for sales along with building and creating a sales team at DuClaw that understands both sides of the situation and finding ways for all three tiers to be successful.​

Solid communication

​Everything in a brewery relies on communication, ​Simmons said, ​and it’s a constant work in progress to remain cognizant of all the people you need to communicate with daily.

​”​You sometimes need to push each other to communicate and work together, if someone needs to be lifted up, you do that,” he told Brewer. “Also, giving our people room to feel free to express their ideas, whether that’s having a say in how we do things or pitching an idea for a new beer.

​”​This respect for everyone in every position has been really integral to morale, and how the brewery functions and ultimately succeeds at a high level. We’re all in this together. ​”​

​Creating a Salesperson

​Simmons looks​ for people who are self-motivated, self-reliant, and self-aware. He don​es​’t believe there is one correct way to approach sales and each salesperson will have a different style that works for them.

​”​You have to foster those things and let them grow as people and coworkers for them to get the most out of the job​,” he explained. ​”​They can be introverted or extroverted, whatever personality traits …​ ​the main thing is to let them be free to do the job how they are comfortable doing it.​”​

​Willing to Learn More

​Of course, understanding ​your brand’s product​s​ ​is key​ along with knowing and learning about beer​ by​ taking classes​ and​ reading books​ and such is a way that a salesperson can speak knowledgeably to ​customers about it. ​

“​But on the other hand, not being afraid to tell someone you don’t know something but you’ll find out and get back, I much more appreciate people that are willing to admit they don’t know something but have the confidence and are willing to put in the work to learn,” Simmons said.

Be Inclusive

The industry as a whole needs to work toward ridding itself of the bearded white male​ — which Simmons acknowledged is a descriptor for himself —​ gatekeeping​​ and act in a manner that encourages involvement from everyone else.

​”​This goes for the entire three-tier system as well as the customer base too​,” he pointed out.​

​With those keys in mind, Simmons also believes that spending time in the market, engaging with buyers at accounts and civilians, and learning to be comfortable performing is key.

​”​The learning process really never stops, if I ever get to the point that I think I know everything then it’s time for me to go​,” he said.​

Photo courtesy DuClaw

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