This is Jillian Lantz.
Jill is 29 years old and is the Reserve Sales Manager for PMA in Halifax. Jill is from a small town called St-Margarets Bay in Nova-Scotia. She studied business and majored in marketing management. She is also currently completing a program to be a certified personal trainer.
How Jill got into the world of selling spirits dates back to the summer between her first and second year at university. She was 19 and had just moved on her own. She was working at a clothes shop and needed more income. Jill saw in an add that Labatt was looking for promo girls. Being naturally fun and loud, she thought she would be a good fit. And she was. She started with Mosaiq as a brand ambassador on a program with Labatt. She worked different positions with Mosaiq for a few years, often working with Diageo and Labatt as they were her two biggest clients, and made a lot of connections this way.
When she graduated from university, Mosaiq was doing a lot of cuts so instead of going full-time with them, she went to Alberta for the summer and worked at the Stampede. When she came back out East, she got a job as a Territory Associate with Breakthru. This was her way into the career she wanted to build for herself, because it was sales rather than events. She did it for 15 months but reached the point where she wanted to learn more and climb up the ladder, so she took a role as a Territory Manager in Calgary. She did it for 2 years, got to have the big accounts and learned a lot. Eventually, she worked as a Junior Key Account Manager with Philip Dandurand Wines and Spirits, but personal events in her life made her move back home.
This happened to be shortly after Breakthru bought up some of PMA. People from Breakthru moved up to PMA because they introduced new roles, and this is where the connections she had made through the past years came into play. One of her old colleagues reached out and offered her to apply for the new Reserve Sales Manager position they had just created on the East Coast. Jill had been working towards that position for a while so she jumped on it and has now been doing it for two years. Her role is to sell the whole portfolio, but her focus is on the reserve products. Another big part of what she does focuses on education, tastings and events. Her customer base are the cocktail bars rather than the big chains accounts, because they are the ones that will buy more premium products. Consequently, Jill works very closely with the Halifax cocktail community.
Talking to Jill helped us demystify many aspects of another side of our trade intimately related to making cocktails. Through the years, Jill got to build a very strong career for herself. If she definitely had bosses that mentored her through the process, she got to where she is now by a lot of self-learning. She reminds us that most of it is hugely relationship based and about building a strong rapport with your customers. The key is to keep a positive attitude. When a door is shut at your face, you just have to stay positive and come knock at it again. We hope that learning about her successful path will help others to explore and better navigate that side of our industry.
A little bit more about Jill...
The three words that describe her best are: outgoing – kind – stubborn
Life motto: Things could always be worst. We are all really too hard on ourselves.
The most magical place she ever visited: Ireland and the highlands in Scotland.
The biggest lesson her job taught her: No matter how good your brands are, it doesn’t mean that you’re gonna get spots on the menu. Because you have great brands, but other people also have great brands.So it’s very important to play nice in the sand box and to be fair. If it’s their time to be in the well it’s ok. The nicer you play with the other reps, the better you do in the long term and to collaborate.
Her advice: Don’t take anything too personally. Be persistent. Make sure you have the attitude that you can build relationships with people. Don’t be shy. And fake it until you make it. Obviously learn your products, but don’t let other people see that you struggle. Don’t let it show and no one will ever know. And be honest. If you don’t know something, don’t lie. Just get the information.