Improve Sales with Tips from Summit Brewing’s New CSO

Developing strong relationships and being well liked have worked for Mike Bamonti.

He’s taken that sales philosophy from the wholesale level and will work on implementing it into the way Summit Brewing works with distributors into the future as he was named the 30-year-old Minnesota-based brewery’s new Chief Sales Officer about a month ago.

As he works on getting to know his sales region, which includes 14 states spanning most of the Midwest, Bamonti — a 30-year industry veteran on the distribution level and the former president and GM of J.J. Taylor Distributing for the last 12 years along with being a former board member and officer for both the Minnesota Beer Wholesalers Association and the National Beer Wholesalers Association — will look to help accelerate growth for Summit’s brand.

“I’ve had the opportunity of working with great people [in distributing] and making great contacts,” he said. “It’s interesting how many people would love to have the opportunity to sell our beers. That right there shows that people understand and have done their homework on Summit and its beers.”

His goal is to “understand before I can be understood,” so he will make his first priority to visit the territories, meet his outlying sales team, their buyers and help develop a strategy for sales.

“It’s really about understanding where we are at, find the areas we are accelerating at and continuing to put the accelerator down,” he said. “Identify the areas of opportunity that we can work on and hone in on those. There’s not a lot that needs to be done. It’s like a couple of turns of the wrench here and a twist of the screwdriver there and we will be well on our way.”

summit brewing

Knowing the challenges of a distributor could be a key to help Bamonti help add value to Summit.

“I always knew what our supplier partners needed to do to add value to our business and then to their business and that is an advantage for all of us,” he said. “I have been in the chair of the distributors and the ability to help them out if need be and then from this side because I know what a distributor wants and here is how we can be prepared to present and add value to their business.”

Bamonti shared other thoughts on the beer industry and sales with The Brewer Magazine:

— Importance of locality: Although available in 14 states, Summit has 90 percent of its volume go out to its home state of Minnesota along with North Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa. Three weeks into his new position, Bamonti has seen the strong local culture and how it empowers the nearly 100 Summit employees.

“From the start [in 1986] and the development to where they are today, it’s still a small company and very community and employee driven.”

— Evolution of craft beer: Focusing on home seems to be the new goal. Working on making sure all local consumers are available to have a quality product is key.

“We are now starting to see a transition to not only local but what is good,” Bamonti said. “Every 3-5 years you may see a transition, but now it’s annual. The industry is constantly evolving with new players entering into the category.”

— Relationships in sales: No matter what level of sales, having a connection and being relatable can help achieve sales goals.

“If you develop a good relationship with people, no matter where it is or whether it’s distributors, distributor personnel, retailers or consumers, if people like you they are going to like your products,” Bamonti said. “They will buy your products because of you. I see that here. We make the best beers out there. The quality is second to none. The work that goes into producing this product is unbelievable and the people are proud of what they are selling and can present this great product.”

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