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

Nothing beats a person-to-person, toe-to-toe sales call,” said Bootstrap Brewing‘s Geoffrey Hess.

“Customers are passionate about beer, requiring passion to sell it,” said the Sales Director of the Colorado brewery. “To effectively convey that passion, it is ideal to make sales calls in person.

“Given the current environment, we have found ways to use the phone, and email to set up more specific times to meet at the discretion of the customer. People buy from who they see, it’s as simple as that.”

Of course, “in person” is the caveat. Many states have limited on-premise, which means some locations have been limited in seeing brewery reps. Making things work differently while still maintaining a relationship has proven to be awkward at times and adjusting to new standards has been paramount.

It’s been important to remain out there and show accounts that you are there to support them, pointed out Jeff Johnson, the Massachusetts Sales Manager for Jack’s Abby.

“We’ve armed our team with full PPE so they can safely visit these accounts in person,” he said. “It’s no-one-size fits all [solution]. It’s important, more now than ever, to be flexible.

“Every account has their own wishes on how they’d like to be interacted with during this pandemic.”

Empyrean Brewing Sales Manager Ben Matya, gives gift cards to accounts with a thank you for their efforts during the pandemic.

“This personal touch from Ben is a big reason we have a great working relationship with our accounts,” said Marketing Manager Misty Vandergriend.

Those first visits can be tricky with a new account or even an established partner.

“The biggest thing we try to do is set up appointments now to meet with a buyer, so we can gauge if they want to see us in person or not,” said Short’s Brewing Regional Sales Manager Kerry Cochran. “It is all about respect always, and being respectful of their time and sense of safety is very important.

“Obviously we haven’t seen each other as we’re spaced out over states, so we are trying to make so much happen via video calls that normally we would have done in person. Sales teams thrive on interaction, on coming together with each other for the sake of feeling like you’re part of a team. It can be a lonely job, even though you spend so much time in front of and with people because you have no nearby coworkers. So we’re trying to stay connected as best we can.”

Unlike off-premise, there ​can be a lot of turnover at on-premise accounts, ​and Johnson said that can make it 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​,” he said. ​”In-person is important to get a sense of what the account is like and what kind of beers would be a good fit. 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.”

Photo courtesy Short’s Brewing

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