While making quick sales is always a nice part of the job, any good beer or spirits rep could agree: Building long-term relationships is the key to long-term success. These types of long-lasting relationships not only provide value through the immediate sales they generate, but also through referrals and positive networking opportunities. If you don’t prioritize strong, interpersonal relationships with accounts, you’re putting yourself at risk for encroachment. Luckily, maintaining these mutually beneficial relationships is easier than ever, thanks to the wonderful powers of modern technology. So, today, we’re giving you four ways to enrich your account relationships by harnessing the power of technology.
#1: Maintain Rapport
Developing account rapport really begins from the first day you meet a new contact. From day one, developing some common interests or points of conversation is critical in establishing a positive, long-lasting relationship. Ideally, account relationships should go reasonably outside of work-only territory to really become a long-lasting and mutually beneficial experience.
In addition, reps should learn and understand the pressure points and needs of a particular bar or establishment. Listen before talking, be empathetic, and genuinely try to understand. Relationships with accounts should be free-flowing, ongoing conversations that are both amicable and profitable for everyone. So, how do you leverage tech to make that happen?
Tech: Social Networking
Platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook can give reps an inside look into the daily goings-on of any given account. These platforms allow for personal connections that can exist even during times when you, as a rep, aren’t face-to-face with a particular account. Don’t be shy about using social media to engage with your accounts and learn about their needs, preferences, and even personal interests.
#2: Organize and Develop a Cadence
Don’t be wishy-washy. Relationships with accounts should be structured and nurtured in a responsive, regular manner. That’s the number one way to create something long-lasting when it comes to professional relationships and accounts. Aside from consistent communication, be sure to follow through on promises and obligations to your accounts to ensure that they see you as a reliable rep.
When juggling so many accounts, that can definitely fall into the ‘easier said than done’ category. The easiest way to ensure that accounts, requests, or appointments don’t fall through the cracks is to stay strict, self-disciplined, and organized with your accounts.
Tech: CRM Software
Modern CRM software makes it simple to stay organized, and is a must-have tool for salespeople in any market. Today’s CRM softwares are robust and widely available, putting your entire sales pipeline into one easy-to-use place. With CRM software, as soon as an account reaches out, the entire history of that account can be just a few iPad taps away. Everything from past activity and preferences to purchase trends and cadences can be easily and quickly displayed via modern CRM software. All in all, when ‘organization’ is the name of the game, CRM software is going to be your ace in the hole.
#3: Adapt and Evolve to Suit Your Accounts (and their markets)
Food and Bev is a decidedly trend-heavy business. The wants and needs of bar-goers and restaurant patrons are liable to change at the drop of a hat. This means that the needs of your accounts are going to respond and change just as quickly. And so, sales reps need to be able to cope with that. A sales cadence can’t be a static, grocery-list type of arrangement -- more realistically, your rapport with accounts needs to ebb and flow with what those accounts’ need on any given day.
So, wouldn’t it be great if you could be one step ahead of those accounts? If you knew the hottest trend before it was even a trend? Not only would you be able to give your accounts the heads up, but you’d be prepared when they come looking for that latest-and-greatest niche ingredient. Well, with modern technology, that’s as simple as looking at data.
Tech: Big Data
Big data is here to help. And in fact, in a 2018 report on the top “business-shaping forces”, Restaurant Business Online placed the implementation of Big Data at number four, stating, “Data drives everything.” The Big Data revolution is here, and we’re all going to be better off for it.
Restaurant Analytics firms gather data from an assortment of digital tools, including mobile apps, table-side tablets, POS systems, and more to paint a digital landscape of the Food and Bev industry. By utilizing this data, it is easy to see customer habits and purchasing profiles. For reps, that means you can look to the past and present trends to predict what your accounts are going to be looking for this season. This is going to enrich your account-rep relationship, creating a mutually beneficial cadence based on the knowledge and insight you can provide.
#4: Become a Resource
One way to stand out from other sales reps is to become a full-fledged resource. You should bring something to the table (pun intended), aside from being a walking-talking POS system. It’s important to provide insight, understand trends, and become an authority on your product and your industry.
This is going to help deepen the dialogue between you and your accounts, by establishing mutual respect and trust. Strive to grow together with your accounts. Did you recently read a report about the potential ‘hot new ingredient’ on the rise? Or maybe you’re privy to some valuable industry statistics… Give your accounts the scoop!
Tech: Mobile Technology (and Big Data)
By utilizing mobile tech, we’re able to be always connected to the world around us. While that’s not always a great thing, it certainly is handy where market insights are concerned. The entire world of information is at our fingertips. Any recent industry developments or datasets are now in your pocket. It’s easier than ever to become a knowledgeable, insightful resource for your accounts. So study up!
And that includes Big Data. Not only are industry datasets more readily available with the advent of “Big Data,” but they’re also extraordinarily easy to access.
So today, we’re going to end on a little tough love. Between mobile technology and Big Data, the sum of mankind’s information on booze trends, movements, and industry statistics is literally in your pocket. Use it. Please.
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Whether you’re a bar, retailer, distributor, or brand— growing your company is hard work. Success in the alcohol industry requires a lot of time, great relationships, and staying informed. Get access to all three and prosper using Provi.