By Tera Dacek
Dave Mevoli knows his beer and loves his job.
Now the regional market manager for Duvel Moortgat USA, Mevoli spent the first 15 years of his career at TJ Sheehan Distributing in many positions, from operations to sales manager. He then became the director of marketing and communications at L. Knife and Son, one of the country’s largest beer distributors.
When he started working at Duvel Moortgat USA, he simultaneously launched his own consulting agency, Beercentric Consulting, in 2013.
In our first of a four-part series on “People Behind the Beer,” we talked to Mevoli, the lead instructor for the sales track for the UVM Business of Craft Beer Program, about his career, selling beer, and making good friends.
If we did our math right, you have been in the beer industry for 20+ years, right? How did you get your start?
I started like many others with a passion for beer and by answering an ad (albeit a newspaper one) for a beer distributor looking for an assistant operations manager. I began my career in sales forecasting and shipping.
We noticed a news clip from DC Beer Week a while back. Is your day to day all TV and beer dinners?
I wish. I love beer dinners and educating consumers about our great beers. My main goal though is to help my distributors and retailers create profits by selling the right beer in the right account. My current portfolio of products operates at the high end of the profit pool in beer. I may not always be the highest-volume brand for my customers, but I have the potential to be their largest contributor of profits. I also spend considerable time coaching my sales team, helping them to develop their beer careers.
What do most people assume about your job, and are they right?
Many people think that I just go out and drink in bars all day and it is all just one big party. What they don’t see is the number of hours that people in our industry put in: early mornings or late nights in our home offices. I spend a lot of time planning for sales calls; running reports; responding to distributor, retailer, and consumer inquiries; and preparing for special events.
As the regional market manager within Duvel Moortgat USA, I manage the sales and marketing functions within a specific region of the United States. My territory is New England and Upstate New York.
How do you stay motivated and keep smiling, even after you have heard “no” from a big account, especially when you have numbers you have to hit?
I have been told “no” more times than I can count. When it comes down to it, our job is simple. I talk to my sales reps in the field, and I ask them what they did today. Their response can be only one of two things:
1. I made friends.
2. I sold beer.
We always make friends first, because I believe that you can ask your friends for anything. Sure they can say “no,” but they are less likely to if you have created a bond of trust based on friendship.
If people wanted to follow in your footsteps, what are the most successful traits they should have?
I know it sounds cliché, but work hard, be friendly, and never talk bad about someone else’s product. It disheartens me to hear people talk down about someone else’s “mass produced” beer or say they have “sold out” to a big brewer. I believe you should speak about the merits of the product you represent. Some people have no idea of the complexities of brewing a product in huge quantities and getting it to taste exactly the same time after time, regardless of which brewery it is produced in or the vast irregularities in raw materials that exist.
Can sales and sales techniques be learned, or is this something you feel comes natural to most people in sales?
I believe that you can teach some sales tools or techniques, but true salesmanship is an inherent trait. Sales starts with selling yourself, then creating a relationship as a foundation, then building on that. It all goes back to “make friends, sell beer.”
What do you want to say to perspective students trying to get into craft beer sales, and what positions might be available to them?
There are many positions in the beer industry and many tracks to enter. I would say the number one thing to do when considering a career path is to find something you are passionate about and then do that. Let’s face it: You could potentially be working for the next 30 to 40 years; why not do something you love? The sales track is not for everyone, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be involved in the beer industry. There are jobs in brewing, shipping, HR, finance, marketing, logistics, raw material acquisition, etc.
Tera Dacek is a consultant and freelance writer. She most recently worked as Marketing Manager for Alchemy and Science. When she unplugs, she can be found at her local mountain or one of the many wonderful breweries in her home state of Vermont.