One of the strongest sales approaches for a cold call or selling new product is to be forward with the quality of one of your products. When I say forward, I mean immediately after greeting the retailer, even if it's the first time meeting him. Yes, I know we want to "set the table" during our sales pitch and bring forward features and benefits before asking for the sales but sometimes you don't get that much time or attention.
If it's the first time meeting him and you have experienced apathy from other retailers because they don't want to listen to your long presentation of who you are and who you represent then go directly to a product that you are confident the retailer wants. However, to be confident that the retailer wants your product, you should see the account and gain some knowledge by asking an employee some questions about the products they sell. Asking questions will reveal whether you have an actual opportunity to succeed or you are just spinning your wheels with this approach. For on premise accounts, it's as easy as walking up to a bartender or wait staff and for off premise a front end clerk or stocker should be able to give you some info.
If you want to grab a draught beer tap handle then you need to ask questions about their draught beer strategy. Many bars and restaurants with craft beer consumers will routinely rotate beers on tap to keep it fresh and bring a greater ability to have sampling of different products in order to keep the typical craft beer consumer satisfied. Knowing this before making the sales pitch can be great info for how you proceed and what you are prepared to offer.
Time for Barleybomber Selling 101
Really, really?? All of that should not be news to anyone in the beer industry! Knowing retailers and how they make their decisions is the means to the end. Relationships with retailers are a great way to start but really knowing how the decisions are made in relationship to the bottom line is where the winning sales reps live. Knowing what you have to bring to the table to compete makes the difference between getting retailer attention or getting lip service. The losers that don't spend the time doing their homework are getting lip service.
Doing homework means doing more than the standard building a relationship by visiting the retailer 13 times and then he finally buys from you. It means being able to walk in the door find the right person that displays power and knowledge and isn't a manager and ask the RIGHT questions of that person to set up the sales call with the actual decision maker the first time in the door. That type of homework requires practice time and the ability to know your shortcomings and how to improve on them.
It requires a confidence that flows out your smiling face while asking questions and talking to the decision maker; that confidence doesn't come easy...practice, practice, practice. And I don't mean practice on the damn retailer!! Practice at night at home, practice getting confidence by being a buyer in negotiations. Go to the mall and ask for a lower price than what the item is marked and ask for the manager when the clerk says no. Learn how to develop an attitude that is comfortable with getting several "Hell No's". The path to being comfortable in a cold caller sales rep skin is by experiencing some awesome painful rejections and knowing it wasn't you; it was the pathetic approach you made. It was the stupid way you walked into the door asking for the manager. It was the mumbling, bumbling sales call.
Pick yourself up and learn the beer business. You need to know data, you need to know beers, you need to know why retailers buy and why they don't. Confidence comes with knowledge and preparation...I hope I didn't forget to tell you to practice, practice, practice. Here's an idea, do a garage sale at your home and price items more than what anyone would pay for them and encourage people to make a bid. Then hold your price as long as possible by explaining and selling the customer on the quality of your junk. Finally, when you know the customer is walking urge them to look at it again and that you like them so you will come down a little on the price. You will have succeeded at this exercise, grasshopper, when the customers start paying more than what you thought your junk is worth.
Selling isn't easy, it's an art, a science, it's math, it's history, it's social science plus the birds and the bees (hello! chemistry). Some of the best sales reps in the beer business use the birds and the bees all of the time but it does limit them. If you want to graduate from Barleybomber Selling 101 you need to learn and practice in order to acquire a confidence that is capable of adapting to any retailer during the first time you meet him, grasshopper. Quit the damn waxing on and waxing off and start practicing.