Brand loyalty is big in the world of beer. When a person already likes a certain brand, convincing them to try something else can feel like moving mountains. If your work involves selling beer as I do, you will realise quickly that trying to persuade people to switch is a losing battle unless you really know what your market is.
It is challenges like these that make my work as General Sales Manager at Jebsen Beer worthwhile. Sales is not just about understanding sales figures, after all. Most of what makes it work depends on your attentiveness to the customer’s needs and plain old tenacity.
I spent most of my career in the beer industry in marketing. It was only a few years ago that I transitioned to sales. This role brought me much closer to our customers and frontline salespeople, allowing me to fine-tune and maximise the success of my team’s sales strategies. It also opened me up to the realities of breaking through barriers in markets where certain tastes and brands are deeply entrenched.
I understood quickly that while Jebsen has a strong beer portfolio with brands like Blue Girl and Hoegaarden, that alone is not enough to guarantee sales success. I learned this firsthand when we tried to secure a deal with a large-scale Chinese restaurant group. As they were already sourcing their beer elsewhere, it proved to be difficult to convince them to switch to our brands.
But difficult does not mean impossible.
So my team put in the hard work by educating them about our brands, touring them around our sites, and convincing them in so many ways that Jebsen Beer was worth the switch. Their reluctance softened over the past two years, and our hard work paid off—they now carry our diverse portfolio of internationally acclaimed beer brands.
Facing changing customer preferences and general market challenges means there’s never a boring day at work. Each day, my team and I try to find better, more innovative ways to respond to the changing tastes and needs of our customers. With current widespread health and safety concerns in Hong Kong, for example, fewer people are choosing to go out and spend time with their friends and colleagues in bars and restaurants. So why not bring the fun to them instead? This is why we are looking into opportunities to work with local food delivery services, creating new modes of product delivery to our clients and in turn enabling them to serve their clients better with direct food and service delivery.
While beer drinkers are loyal to their beer brands, we know that they are savvy and are always keeping an eye out for something better. Because of this, we need to be creative in keeping our customers satisfied. This means never being limited by the status quo and continuing to explore unique ideas or collaborations that surprise and delight people.
Of course, none of these would be possible without my supportive team. My work goes beyond sales, after all—I also work on account management and collaborate with our talented marketing teams. While we all bring our unique gifts and experiences to the table, we see eye-to-eye on the bigger, common goals. That’s what keeps me confident as I go out and brave every sales negotiation—the knowledge that everyone on the team will always be working hard to meet the objectives that we set out, from breaking through traditional barriers to nurturing the loyalty our brands have earned throughout the years.