Even if your brewery has an official sales staff of only one or two employees, the fact is that every person who works there is a potential sales representative. Craft businesses have the luxury of a staff that loves their product. Many employees have sought jobs in the industry simply because of their love affair with unique brews. Those are the best people to sell your product.
And they are selling it every day—after they go home. Every time they tell friends and family members how smooth the latest lager from your shop tastes, they are literally inviting more people to plan a post-pandemic pilgrimage to your pub. Whenever they have ordered a pilsner with your brewery’s name on it with a restaurant meal, these connoisseurs—who have a taste for the very best beers—showed waiters, diners and pals that yours is the very best.
Those are sales. The people making those sales do not realize they are doing it. They do not do it on purpose. They are not responsible for doing it. Yet they do it nearly every time they crack open a cold one with your label on it.
Why not harness that passion and unofficial sales experience by training every employee in the art of selling?
Craft businesses have the luxury of a staff that loves their product. Many employees have sought jobs in the industry simply because of their love affair with unique brews.
You do not have to put them to work in the sales department, saddle them with quotas or pay them commissions. You do not have to reassign them away from the jobs they already have. You just have to teach them how to do their thing—the thing they’re doing anyway—in a more purposeful way for the benefit of the brand.
The fact is that every job is a sales job—or can be. The person who will answer the phones when you are back in business post-crisis can make a sale simply by treating callers in a friendly, respectful way so they will have a good impression of your company and will want to buy from you. A waiter in your pub can observe what kinds of beverages her customers seem to favor, and suggest that they sample your latest batch. When you get people back in your taproom, the bartender who chats up customers can let them know about your subscription plans and upcoming events—if they are trained to do that.
Likewise, the drivers who deliver bulk orders to restaurants and liquor stores can ask their clients to recommend your brand to the managers of sister stores and to pals who also serve beer to customers. Your accountant can suggest that her networking group serve your farmhouse ale at its annual conference.
These are not salespeople—officially. But they have influence with the people they do business with on your behalf. They consume your product themselves. Why not teach them how to spread the love in a way that brings in sales?
First, however, you will have to get them to agree to sell. Most people who have not chosen sales as a profession don’t want to sell. Some believe they do not know how. Others perceive selling as manipulative, pushy or cheesy. A few might even say they would rather quit their jobs than to have to sell.
To get buy-in:
- Point out to the non-sales staff that they already know how to sell: They do it all the time just by naturally promoting the product because they enjoy it so much.
- Teach employees the power of the “ask.” If every employee simply asks every customer for more business during every encounter, sales will increase. Their questions: “Can I offer you a taste of our new beer?” “Would you recommend us for your office party?” “What else can I get you while you are here?”
- Selling something that the customer already wants and likes easily creates a win-win for the employee and the buyer. The best salespeople are those who only try to sell products that their customers want or need; that can solve a problem for a client; that will make the buyer happier; or that will make a situation easier. There’s nothing cheesy about that.
In a small brewery, most employees have regular interactions with customers, vendors, individual craft beer lovers and others who will, more often than not, say “yes” when offered something they wanted anyway.
Leverage your employees’ and customers’ mutual love of craft into a boost in sales. Turning your non-sales staff into brand ambassadors will make them feel good about helping the company they work for.
Dr. Cindy McGovern is known as the “First Lady of Sales.” She speaks and consults internationally on sales, interpersonal communication and leadership, and is the author of the Wall Street Journal best seller Every Job Is a Sales Job: How to Use the Art of Selling to Win at Work. Dr. Cindy is the CEO of Orange Leaf Consulting, a sales management and consulting firm in San Francisco.