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Sales. It’s your job now.

From The Iron Horse Brewery Blog

Sales. It’s your job now.


For the second installment of the sales blog I’d like to focus on how we sell craft beer to our retail partners. Before I get into that I would like to thank the two people who are not my blood relations that read last week’s post, which is two more than I expected.

Our sales strategy, like most companies we work with, is to find an option that is beneficial to both parties. We try to build relationships with retailers that are based on honesty and respect. Why do we do this? Because we can’t buy you tickets to sporting events or weekend getaways. We can’t afford it and quite honestly wouldn’t do it anyway. If we were to play that game, we could expect to have customers whose loyalty lasts as long as we have free shit to give them. Instead, we have customers who are secure in the knowledge that we are selling them a product we believe in. They know that if a problem arises we will take responsibility where we are involved and offer solutions based on improvement instead of what helps our sales numbers.

The cynical side of me would say that we are able to conduct ourselves in this manner because our beer sells well and there are rarely substantial problems. Of course, the cynical side of me is basically a nihilist who pees on rugs owned by pot smoking hippies, so take that opinion with a few grains of salt.

Described above is basically what you get when you work with small businesses. All businesses give you some person to thank, ask for advice and/or bitch at when you’re unhappy. The difference with small businesses is that the person is usually easily accessible and doesn’t treat you like one more data entry into a profit/loss statement.

I’ve gotten off topic somewhat so I’ll get back to why it’s beneficial for restaurants, bars and stores to commit to craft beer.

Increased profits: Craft beer is similar to most consumer products (except way more awesome) in that when the retailer has to pay a little more up front, they end up making more in the long run. I could get into the math, but its quicker if you just take my word for it.

Ability to attract more affluent customers: Studies (basically a summation of my anecdotal evidence) have shown that bars offering craft beer variety bring in customers who are willing to spend more money while inside. The only downside here is that this group seems to include a small segment who believe its okay to wear their hands free device even when not engaged in a phone conversation.

Commitment to local: As with food, retailers that commit to craft are proving that providing customers with locally sourced and sustainable products is important to them. So even if the customer doesn’t always care what is going into his or her body, the retailer can show that they do.

Commitment to quality: Craft beer is made by people who pour their heart and soul into their products. When a retailer purchases a keg from a craft brewery, they know that the beer was made using only quality ingredients through processes that don’t cut corners to save miniscule amounts of money that would benefit the company’s bottom line instead of a customer’s palate.

Those four are pretty major reasons, but don’t think there aren’t a ton more (one more would be that having craft beer allows the retailer to have pairing options that don’t include this yellow lager pairs great with depression or this shandy goes great with low self esteem and/or pork rinds).

I realize these posts are supposed to illuminate what we do in sales, but I went the selfish route and thought that giving you, the consumer, reasons why retailers should carry craft beer would help make my life easier. The theory basically goes…Most people like to sound smart and informed. Now that you have this knowledge you can go to your local pub that currently only carries one amber ale and five domestic choices and educate them. And then we all win.

Thanks and please drink a craft beer soon because you deserve it.

Ross “Big Cat” Chalstrom

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One Comment

May 6, 2013 7:10 pm

I requested my tiny IGA here in Toledo, Wa. start carrying Irish Death and they did! Now I’m in cancer treatment and can’t drink! Dammit!

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