Craft Beer Distribution: How to Get Your Beer into More Restaurants

Craft Beer Distribution- How to Get Your Beer into More Restaurants

A guy walks into a bar — not just any bar, a brewery. This place makes great beer — but no one knows about it yet. So the guy asks the owner, “Have you thought about getting your beer into more restaurants and bars?”

“Are you a distributor?”

“No, but I know a way you can do it yourself.”

“Well,” the owner replies, “I have an agreement with my distributor not to sell my product directly. Otherwise, they’re not going to bring my product to all of their customers.”

“Well, there’s a different way… and it doesn’t violate that agreement.”

What if you could get people to ask your distributor for your beer? You don’t have to distribute, and you’ll give your distributor more business. Now that’s how to sell beer.

How to Promote Your Beer Distributors

So how do you compete against the big distributors who have thousands of brands? It’s not as complicated as you may think.

In fact, you do the same thing everyone in the beer distribution business does — you walk into bars and restaurants and talk to the owners. You meet people. You put together events that promote your product. You hand out free beer mugs, tap handles, and swag. You say, “This is the best beer in the world. It’ll sell like crazy. Ask your distributor about it.”

But you add one extra piece of information at the end of your promo: the distributor’s name. Make it personal. Say, “Hey, Ralph is the guy that distributes beer to your store. You see him every other day. Ask him about it tomorrow.”

That one extra piece of info makes all the difference. See, if you just tell them the general, “Ask your distributor,” they won’t. You have to make it specific.

Related: Tell the Story, Make the Sale: Sales Conversation Starters to Improve Your Pitch

And you can even tell your distributor what you’re doing. You aren’t a prisoner to the distributor. Just say, “Hey, I know you distribute beer for my competitors too. That’s great — you’re the one there and they buy from one person so they don’t have a million invoices. I get it. I don’t want to run trucks; you don’t want to make beer. But I’m going to go increase your sales for you for nothing. I’m going to get them to order more beer from you and it’s going to help us both.”

Your goal is to influence the buying decisions.

How to Keep Track of the Distributors

But how do you get the information you need to be successful? Well, you could research and get organized before you see each new place… but you’ll miss out on about five stops you could have made during that time.

Instead, you need some sort of mechanism to keep track of all those distributors. You need a tool that tells you the name of the distributor, what’s important to them, and what’s selling in that area as soon as you walk through the door. An app like CallProof keeps that info at your fingertips.

How a CRM Keeps Your Craft Beer Distribution Contacts Organized

When you’re looking for a good CRM, you may think you want something that emails a report at the end of each day. You want it to include where you went today and where you plan to go tomorrow.

But here’s what you need:

You need a tool that gives people on the street a way to enter information about their stops so that you get quality information. Otherwise, it’s just garbage.

Just because a salesperson tells you they stopped somewhere, doesn’t mean they did. What are you going to do — call and ask, “Hey, was he really there?” Of course not. Managers don’t call, and salespeople don’t make all the stops they claim to make. They go out and see a few people in the morning and a few others in the afternoon. Then they tell you they went to 20 places, when they really went to the same five places that morning they visit every Tuesday because they’re buddies. It’s not the way it started. It’s not even what they want. But after 18 months selling beer to place after place, that’s the way it ends up.

See, they probably drove past four bars on their way to see one they visit every Tuesday. Why aren’t they stopping? Well, they don’t have the information they need to be successful. They think, “I’ve got to stop in a new place and interrupt someone’s day to have an uncomfortable conversation. Even if the conversation turns out good, I have to remember everything we talked about, take it back to my office, and try to enter it all into a program that doesn’t work right. This is a waste of everyone’s time. Instead, I could just go the bar I always visit and they’ll keep ordering beer.”

Related: Why Your Salespeople Hate Using Your CRM – And How to Change Their Minds

What’s driving your beer sales right now is not your sales team — it’s the distributors. But if your salespeople had a mechanism to hold them accountable and give them information about nearby restaurants so they can make each stop worthwhile, that could change.

If you’re making great beer, more people should know about it. With the right tools, your sales team can make that happen.