Cider Corner: Hiring Great Sales Reps

Every good salesperson has to start from somewhere, notes Coyote Hole Ciderworks‘ Chris Denkers. It’s not necessarily a ‘born-with-it’ characteristic, but it’s close.

“If they have the drive and the love of sales, they can be created and molded into what how you would like them to sell,” the owner of the Mineral, Virginia cidery said. “The ‘it’ that every salesperson needs to have is both the drive and love for sales.

“To “create” a good sales rep, you need to have someone who can take them under their wing and show them all the ins and outs of the position and the business.”

Denkers points out that finding the right salespeople is key and making sure they have experience as well as the love of your industry is essential. He adds that Coyote Hole has been very lucky in finding sales reps who both had experience with craft beverage sales and also a list of retailers that they could work with from the get-go.

“If you don’t have any experience in selling craft beverages to retailers, it’s a sharp learning curve as every retailer is different, communicates differently and has different sales needs,” he said. “Having someone who knows how to adapt to each retailer is a must.”

Starting off as a new-hire sales rep within any industry can be daunting.

“The key to becoming successful is learning that every customer is different and learning how to adapt your sales pitch/strategy to each individual customer,” Denkers said. “Some customers take cost into account more than quality, so learning how to adjust how you sell cider to each customer is key.”

Denkers uses a wide range of ways to find the right people for any position, including sales reps.

“We have hired off of online job boards, internally and also by references,” he said.

He added that finding the right salesperson can come in different ways and you have to be open to not sticking to only one way to hire anyone but to look in multiple directions to find the right person.

Eric Phillips, the CSO for Schilling Hard Cider in Washington noted that the cidery looks for someone who is a self-starter and proactive.

“This is more important to me that experience,” he said. “Someone who understands the importance of communication.”

Phillips believes that the drive to work in this style of job is intrinsic, the passion for the product can be fostered.

“If you aren’t willing to put yourself out there and bounce back from failure then I am not sure this is a desirable position,” he said. “It is my feeling that providing education for a specific item and/or brand can definitely be taught.

For ​him, every salesperson must find their own voice.

While some certain concepts and facts will remain constant, it is key that each member of the team is allowed to approach their ​personal ​accounts with their own voice to ensure authenticity.

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