For the thousands of people who work in the retail or hospitality sectors of the craft beer industry, a sales job with a brewery often seems like a fantastic career progression. But many new sales rep fail to see out the first year, often due to the lack of training and sales skills.
For this episode I chat to Laurence Temple, former Pernod Ricard, Lion Nathan and current National Sales Manager of Experience Beverages to get his 5 top tips to be successful at sales.
Full Text Transcript Below:
Lachlan: Hi. I'm Lachlan McLean from Beer Cartel, here with your regular fill of the latest insights, interviews, and news from the craft beer world. Thanks for joining me again right here on The Inside Word.
Lachlan: Welcome, everyone, to episode four of The Inside Word. The thousands of people who work in the retail or hospitality sectors of the craft beer industry, a sales job with a brewery often seems like a fantastic career progression. But many new sales reps fail to see out the first year, often due to the lack of training in sales skills. For this episode, I talked to Laurence Temple, former Pernod Ricard, Lion Nathan, and current National Sales Manager of Experience Beverages to get his five top tips to be successful at sales.
Lachlan: Thanks for joining me today, Laurence. The idea of this podcast is to chat about some of the key skills to be a gun salesperson, but I thought we'd begin by just having a bit of a brief about your background.
Laurence: Sure. Well, I've been in the liquor industry most of my life in various guises. I started running pubs in hotels and restaurants back in the U.K. as an operator. I became an area manager, regional manager, then fortunately, I was very fortunate that Lion brought me over to this fantastic country approximately 25 years ago.
Lachlan: Yeah. The macros brought you over to Australia. We have them to thank.
Laurence: You do, and now here I am trying to take all their space. So yes, it's a bit ironic, but-
Lachlan: That's all right.
Laurence: Apologies to my mates at Lion. Many of them I still keep in touch with.
Lachlan: So after Lion, you went into-
Laurence: Oh, I went into spirits and champagne with a distributor here. We were partly owned by Brown-Forman of Jack Daniels' fame and Southern Comfort. Did a couple of national account roles, and then moved into cider with [Boomer 00:01:58] Australia, who have since bought by people by Foster's. And then after that, a stint in home entertainment was quickly followed by me coming back into the liquor industry with Pernod Ricard, where I managed the business with Wally's [crosstalk 00:02:14] accounting.
Lachlan: And then into Experience.
Laurence: And then into, yeah, Experienceit Beverages.
Lachlan: Into the craft beer world, and then you came into my life.
Laurence: Correct. And what a lovely life it is.
Lachlan: So I guess that sales history is very thorough, and there's a lot of sales experience in that. And I think it shows a lot of the young people in the industry and the reps that I guess we see coming into Beer Cartel, where you kind of start in bottle shops, or like you said, you started in hospitality, but then you kind of went into managing there. Well, I think a lot of people in the craft beer game kind of see sales with a brewery as what is kind of that logical step into a career, I guess. But I think one thing they don't teach you is those sales skills.
Lachlan: And you know, you don't get the training, and you don't walk out of uni going into it. You're just kind of working in a craft beer bar, or a craft beer pub, or bottle shop, and then you go straight to sales.
Lachlan: And I think sometimes just having a passion for beer and drinking isn't enough.
Laurence: I agree.
Lachlan: So we thought we'd come up... Well, I thought I'd ask Laurence... This is also for anyone looking to get into the industry. The five top tips to make gun sales. So you're 25, 30 years in the industry? 25 years in the industry?
Laurence: Yeah, yeah. Too many.
Lachlan: Obviously he knows how to do it well, so we thought we'd come up with five top tips as help you, help everyone become a gun sales.
Lachlan: What's number one?
Laurence: Number one for me is service. You know, you're going to come into an industry where you've got anywhere between 250 and 400 customers. These customers are very knowledgeable. They are the owners of the business, or guys behind the bar, or service staff in the bottle shop. You've really got to give outstanding service. You've got to commit, or you've got to deliver against all your commitments, and you've got to get out to see all your customers. Don't over-promise and under-deliver. It really is in order-
Lachlan: Under-promise and over-deliver.
Laurence: Oh, my apologies. Under-promise and over... No. [crosstalk 00:04:18] I'm saying don't over-promise and under-deliver.
Lachlan: Yeah, yeah. I'm saying you got to under-promise and over-deliver.
Laurence: Yeah, you threw me there.
Lachlan: I know.
Laurence: And at the end of the day, for those of you out there, whenever you're going to any retail store or any pub, look. There is a reason why products are on the shelf or on the bar, and that's because someone has been able to sell those products. And that is your role. To actually sell. It's not just about knowing the products and having a passion for craft beer, which I think is important. There really is a method behind the madness.
Lachlan: I think it's not just a case... Especially nowadays with 600-plus breweries in Australia. You know, there's lots of quality products, while maybe five, 10 years ago, you could walk in with a quality product and people would want it. Now there's so much on the market, having just a good product isn't necessarily enough. You've got to have that service, and I know for us, if there's a good rep that walks in, we're more likely to buy off the rep that we like and works well with us.
Laurence: Oh, it's good to hear. It's worked well for us.
Lachlan: What's number two?
Laurence: Number two for me is planning. You know, you've really got to meticulously plan. You've got to sit down on a Friday afternoon when no one really wants to see you, or first thing on a Monday, and work out what your objective's going to be for every single call. You've got to be very efficient in terms of your calls. You've got to go to a tight geographic area and ensure that you know what your call plan is. So planning is really going to be essential if you're going to deliver the optimal results for yourself and the business you're working for.
Lachlan: I think that's... I know for one thing, when I first started at Beer Cartel, Rich and Jeff, the owners, one of their things they really instilled into me was systems and processes and planning. And if you do things twice, process and system-wise, I think that's exactly what you're saying. It's not just a case of getting in the car and driving out and seeing a few people.
Lachlan: Really, really plan it.
Lachlan: Number three.
Laurence: Number three is understand. You've really got to understand your customers' needs. When you go and have a meeting with them, ask them very intelligent questions. More importantly, listen to the answers, because that's going to help you analyse exactly which of your products are going to best fit and meet the needs of your individual customers. So really get as bigger understanding about their business, their customers, and their consumers, as much as you can.
Lachlan: I think that's a pretty key one.
Laurence: Yeah, I think so. You know, there's this great saying that I like using, which I tell my kids, which is two ears, one mouth. Use it in equal proportion. And it's something that I think has guided me pretty well.
Lachlan: I think that listening to the answers, as well, really ties into your fourth one.
Laurence: Well, my fourth one's actually resilience. Look, you might have the best beers in the world. You might have the number one craft beer that's selling in Australia, or number two. And we all know which two products they are. At the end of the day, you're not going to get an order from every call. And what you've got to do, you've got to be resilient. You've got to be prepared to go back, understand why you may not have got an order. You know, find out more about the customer. Give them, I guess, confidence and trust in you. And by going back, even if you're not getting an order, I promise you, they'll admire you more for the fact that you keep going back, particularly if you know this particular outlet's going to be critical to your success as a salesperson and your volumes.
Lachlan: So I guess one of the key personality traits for a salesperson is you can't have any fear of rejection.
Laurence: No! No. But it happens. You know, it's something that it still irks me and still kills me when I've gone in, I've done all the preparation, and I think I've nailed it this time. And I promise you, even yesterday I was up in the Blue Mountains. I have given probably 10 samples to this one bottle shop, and I've gone back, I don't know, 12 times. And yesterday, I'm delighted to say I actually got a 24-case sold to them.
Lachlan: That's resilience right there.
Laurence: I think they ignore you because they know that you're going to keep on going back. You're not just going to get that first order and walk away. You're actually going to come back and service them properly.
Lachlan: Absolutely. And then, going on to your last one?
Laurence: Look, I think it's something that's indicative of our relationship between Experienceit Beverages and Beer Cartel. You've got to have an underlying sense of humour. You can't take everything seriously. Craft beer, I promise you, is fun. We got great products, we've got innovation, but you know what? Whether it's the consumers, whether it's the customers, whether it's suppliers, everyone's got a sense of humour. So I actually think if you've got a sense of humour, that's going to help you, I think, develop some of these key competencies, and certainly develop a compelling relationship with your customers.
Lachlan: Yeah, I think if you can't have fun, especially in a sales job, you might not be there too long, and you'll lose the fun out of the job very, very quickly.
Laurence: Yeah, correct. And in the sales role, it can be a lonely world. And having that sense of humour, and having that camaraderie with customers or consumers is something that certainly keeps me going.
Lachlan: So I guess to sum up, when I asked you about a week ago, two weeks ago, if you wanted to come in and do one of these little podcasts, you managed to do it into a bit of an acronym for people to remember.
Laurence: I did? Yep.
Lachlan: What's that?
Laurence: Okay. Well, just think about the five key things, and you might want to write these down. Service, passion... Well, passion, also said planning, so let's say passion. We say passion's a prerequisite, so let's say planning. Understand your customers. Resilience is so critical, and having a sense of humour. So think about the first letters of all of that, and that is S-P-U-R-S. Come on, you spurs.
Lachlan: It's a shame this didn't happen maybe two weeks ago. I [inaudible 00:10:14] supporter myself. I can't really talk. But Laurence was quite upset for a few days there.
Laurence: It's probably been just the only disappointment I've had this year that has-
Lachlan: We've had a lot more.
Laurence: Look, it's better than being an [inaudible 00:10:28] supporter, who will be playing your open league football again next season. It's a bad luck sign.
Lachlan: That's all right. Thank you so much for taking your time out of your day to come and chat to us.
Laurence: My pleasure.
Lachlan: To anyone out there, if you need any sales advice or whatever, I'm sure Laurence will always be there to have a chat, especially if you're in a bottle shop and he could sell you something as well on the way. But thank you all out there for [crosstalk 00:10:50], and I'll see you next time. Thanks, Laurence.
Laurence: Thanks, Lachlan.
Lachlan: For anyone new or thinking about a job in sales, those five top tips will ensure that you have a successful career in the craft beer sector. If you'd like to let us know what you thought of this episode, please join our Facebook group, Beer Cartel's Craft Beer Collective. To continue to stay up to date with the latest from the craft beer industry, please subscribe at either iTunes Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. That's it for today. I'll see you next time.