Improve Your Sales Call: What Beer Buyers Don’t Want You to Do

Beer sales is an in-person business and Jeff Johnson feels nothing will ever replace face-to-face contact.

“In-person [calls] is important to get a sense of what the account is like and what kind of beers would be a good fit,” the Massachusetts Sales Manager for Jack’s Abby told Brewer. “It’s important to get to know the buyers. The more you are in the space, the more the buyers will trust you; the more they trust you, the more space on the shelves you’ll get to sell your product.

“Unlike off-premise, there is a lot of turnover at on-premise accounts, making it just as important to be in-person. If you’re not there regularly, you’re going to miss out on changes in staffing, and potentially lose business because you’re not there to meet the new buyer.”

So being there and knowing people is key, but Johnson said there really is only one “worst way” to make a sales call.

“It’s more about what’s the worst way for that person,” he said. “Every buyer has their own preferences and it’s important to remain flexible to adapt and change how you interact with them based on what they like.”

READ MORE: What These Sales Reps Do to Keep Strong On-Premise Relationships

Many beer buyers will tell you how they want to be communicated with, and it’s an important question to ask, noted Bootstrap Brewing Sales Director Geoffrey Hess.

“No one likes the rep that tugs on the sleeve too hard or too often, especially if they don’t add any value to the call,” he said. “Ask the question, they will let you know, then execute that more than the next guy or gal.”

With safety as the No. 1 priority, Bootstrap is constantly looking at ways to better serve its beer-selling customers.

“Being very creative and listening to their needs is more important than ever,” Hess said. Pooling resources to help them sell more product, and looking way down the road to get ahead of potential opportunities is key.

Johnson said it’s also important to not be overbearing.

“Be aggressive,” he said, “but not overly.”

Short’s Kerry Cochran, who is the Regional Sales Manager for the Michigan brewery, doesn’t think there is one particular “always do this” or “never do this” regarding staying connected to a buyer.

“I think the biggest mistake you can make is assuming that you know what the account wants or how they prefer to communicate,” she said. “The best thing you can do is ask the person what they prefer, and then do that. Also never say you’re going to do or send something or come back at a specific time and then not do it. Be true to your word.

“Reading body language, physically handing the person your product or sales documents, and being able to absorb and identify information from the account itself is really only possible while standing inside the place, in front of the person. A lot of sales is figuring out what the consumer needs and wants vs what the account needs and wants and what will be successful where. You have to be there to learn these things.”

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