Enticing Your Beer-Buying Clients

It can be a tough road for smaller craft breweries to find ways to get a dedicated draft line at a place or shelf space for a packaged brand.

‘Pay-to-play’ is illegal, and it has been shown to have major consequences when caught, as seen in recent years. But for all the ‘swag’ (or more amenities) bars get from “the big boys” to make sure their beer is flowing, there is one perk that craft brewers can offer that definitely builds loyalty if not a locked in dedicated draft line, according to one craft beer on-premise buyer: a trip to your brewery.

Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are ponying up for airline tickets and a hotel stay, but bringing in the owner of an establishment that you want to do business with could mean arranging a personalized VIP tour.

It can be an opportunity for your brewery to tell your story directly.

“Meeting the people behind the beer, and seeing the brewing facility is priceless,” the beer buyer said. “I certainly have taken advantage of these opportunities. … [It] distinguishes what they do from what Bud and Miller do.”weldworks brewing

Another legal way to build a relationship with buyers can be by offering a personal appearance by your brewery’s founders or brew team.

The person that started it all coming by to tell their stories and sample beers with clients and directly with customers is great for a brand to shine, along with that establishment.

“Is it pay to play?’ ” they asked. “Not really, but it has a similar effect and like brewery visits, it does it without the aura of corruption.”

That can be some of the “out front” ideas. But it does start with the sales team.

For SanTan, they feel all on/off-premise accounts have the ability to get more involved in the craft movement, explained Matt Neuman, the National Sales Director for SanTan.

“Whether the account is classified as a “blue collar” bar or “Craft Centric” bar or chain grocery store. With all the styles of beer we offer, we have the ability to appeal to an “entry level” craft beer drinker and to “Hop Heads,” he said.

Presentations that used to be considered a curiosity are now a point of sales talk for many craft beer sales reps and knowing the situation heading into an opportunity is vital.

It all depends on the day and the account Neuman pointed out.

“Many buyers have their guard up when any sales person approaches them,” he noted. “‘What do you want to sell me today?’ We take the approach of being the accounts Brand Ambassador and partner … we’re all in this together.

“At the end of the day, our goal is to help accounts sell more beer. We also believe that building a relationship with that decision-maker takes time. There are times when we say…go see your top 10 accounts and simply say, ‘Thanks for the business.’ ”

Photo courtesy Tonic Photo Studios.

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