Pabst Brewing tips on selling

Beer sales person? Really, companies need a sales person to sell beer? Yes, and it is a competitive business, where shelf space is at a premium. I recently got to talk to Chris Steflanci, Pabst Brewing. After years at Heinekin leading the sales charge, he has landed at what I would think of as my father’s beer.The Pabst brand brings me back to memories of Midwestern picnics 20 years ago. But Schlitz, PBR and Red Stripe are getting their time in the spotlight. These aren’t labels you will see with Super Bowl ads; they slug it out in local markets with guys and gals selling in neighborhoods where the sales person has to understand the needs of the local market.

When I caught up to Chris, he was just few weeks into the new gig. But, he was moving at top speed, already deep into a major sales transformation realigning the sales team to his new vision.

His is an action-oriented vision. He expects everyone to stand tall and contribute, especially his front-line managers. He collects business cards from everyone he meets in the beer industry and take a few notes on the back of the card. He may not need talent in that market today, but will in the future. He expects this type of proactive approach from everyone.

He did quip that, after grabbing a card from another company’s driver in a grocery store, he’d stick around to lean on their display and knock it down. It was just a joke, but we all get the picture, this is a competitive business.

The golden nugget from Chris? He talked about years ago learning how to write SMART Goals. This is how he was taught, but read on to learn how he now thinks:

  • Specific – A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal.
  • Measurable – Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set.
  • Attainable – When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true.
  • Realistic – To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work.
  • Timely – A goal should be grounded within a time frame.

But now he says, “Throw out the A and the R.” He explained, “From a sales perspective, you have only set yourself up to be mediocre with this plan, you have to aim for targets beyond what is currently attainable and what today seems realistic.”

This is sage advice in an environment when the new normal seems to be redefined every few months. Thanks to the man bringing back PBR for the great advice.

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picture by Katrina Snaps

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