Marty Wall was great to work with when he visited our market. David Klingle gave me framework on how to best use him and Marty was very happy to come in and ride with me to accomplish my goals. I'm not giving details on how this was done because it seems to be a "secret" in the industry.
I worked with other brewery reps from Widmer and from other suppliers. All great people, I enjoy them all. They love the industry and they truly want their brewer to be a success. But having written that, there was something missing that Marty Wall had and a methodology that Marty Wall had that I have not seen practiced by others.
Brewery Reps and Selling
I have not met another brewery rep with Marty's abilities of planning, collaborating, organizing, and executing. These were all the tools he used besides our selling together. The last I heard, he is the national sales manager for CBA. The point here is, why aren't the other brewery reps that good? Well at least the ones I've met; there most likely are great ones in some other markets.
At last year's Craft Brewer's Conference in San Francisco, I sat in on a 90 minute session on training brewery market managers and sales reps. This presentation included all of the basics, however I was fascinated by the lack of depth in a few areas that I am telling you are essential for success. There are qualities that need to be addressed, there is education that needs to be addressed, all with great detail. No more info on that...secret knowledge I guess.
I left that session with the realization that many breweries don't know and understand the wholesaler/brewer relationship and how to maximize that without dumping a fistful of dollars into the brewery rep's expense account. I am of the opinion that they got bad advice from some so called beer industry expert, I don't know who, I'm just guessing.
So, the question for the day is, where would craft beer sales be today if, i.e. what would the share of market be if craft beer brewery reps were damn good at their jobs? There isn't much shelf space available in retail chain stores nor are there that many draft tap handles available. There are now 1,952 breweries and brewpubs, the stores and bars/restaurants are behind the curve in reacting to this phenomenon, this results in a lot of rotating draft tap handles and a short time to be a success on a shelf before you're gone and never to return. Selling a product back in to an account that failed the first time is almost impossible, you have to be good at the beginning.
The new bars that feature 50 or more draft tap handles are ideal for our industry, however, everyone of those that I've consumed at rotate their handles and they expect the brewery rep to spend some money and/or time. Why? Because that bar has your drinker and there aren't many more of those places around so competition is fierce. The best brewery rep/wholesaler collaboration wins! And I'm not telling you how that happens...industry secret.