Hunt #2: Sell coffee for a living

Deep dive into Atomic Coffee Roasters

Good morning hunters!

Today's newsletter offers a deep-dive into a very successful Boston-based coffee company, some recently captured HOT jobs I think are interesting, and parting words of wisdom to consider as you think about your sales career & journey.


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Main event

Ever thought about a career in the food/service industry? Or running a small business? If so, you’re in for a real treat as I recently sat down with Logan Mahoney from Atomic Coffee Roasters.

He joined his 2nd generation family business after graduating from Bentley University in 2018. They’ve been thriving for 25+ years and service hundreds of cafes & restaurants ranging from Portsmouth, NH to Providence, RI. They also service grocery & other retail channels.

This post will cover an overview of their business, what it’s like to be a coffee salesperson, and other interesting perspectives from a leader in this space.

Quick backstory:

Logan’s uncles opened up their first cafe in 1996. They were frustrated with their coffee suppliers and decided to start their own roasting business later - one of the first micro roasters on Boston’s North Shore. Now owned by his Uncle, and his father, Logan’s Uncle still operates the Atomic cafe as a sister business while Logan and his brother focus exclusively on their wholesale division.

And with traditional coffee, cold brew, and coffee liqueur, they have something for everyone. Plus, they offer training & support for their customers, sell the best coffee equipment on the market, and offer complementary products like tea. Their business is a home run.

Overview of their model & approach:

One of their major strengths & differentiators is that their roastery is located in Peabody, MA which means all of their customers have proximity & access.

Here’s why that’s important:

  • They roll out the red carpet to prospective customers by inviting them for a taste test & tour before they officially sign up. They meet the team, get to ask questions, and receive the white glove treatment they may be unaccustomed to from their current coffee supplier(s)

  • Their team personally visits the restaurants they service to train them on how to use the machinery, ensure the coffee tastes perfect, and teaches their staff how to make coffee art which drives a truly unique customer experience (this was a service I was not expecting them to offer and it blew me away)

Pre-covid, their business was mostly centered on offices, however, they’re focusing a lot of attention on restaurants & cafes because they order more often, have the right staff & set-up to offer an up-scale coffee experience, and they order a wider variety of products.

Life as a salesperson at Atomic:

Their sales team is made up of 3 people, each with slightly different areas of focus. Logan is mostly focused on inside sales support & networking where their two salespeople spend about 60% of their time on new business & 40% of their time on client support.

New business:

They receive inbound leads from their website (and leads from Logan), customer referrals, and also prospect themselves. Their market is large enough where there are lots of potential customers for them to capture, especially considering a lot purchase coffee from distributors who don’t actually control the process/quality.

Throughout the conversation, I was struck by their focus on quality over quantity. It’s clear that Logan & their team really care about delivering an incredible experience to their cafes (and the end-users who drink their coffee). 

Customer support:

The salespeople help install equipment, make sure everything tastes great, and monitor quality control.

The “right” salesperson profile for Atomic:

Logan thinks about hiring in a refreshing way. As he puts it:

“We find great people and get them on the bus and then make sure they are in the right seat”

Here’s what that means:

They hire for personality/potential and look to hone their role/focus over time as they understand their strengths and interests.

This is one of the benefits of working for a smaller, family-owned business. They don’t have VC’s & investors breathing down their neck demanding fast results. They have the luxury of being able to wait for the right people. And that’s freaking awesome!

The perfect background for them:

  • Experience working in cafes

  • Love for training

  • Extroverted

  • Knows about their equipment/interested in learning

  • Lives locally to Danvers, MA (face-time & providing A+ service are their strengths & differentiators after all)

From Logan’s perspective, it is harder to teach the barista skills than it is to teach how to sell.

In closing:

Food/coffee sales are a GREAT option for salespeople/aspiring salespeople looking to build genuine relationships with customers, work full-cycle, want to have a close connection to the food/beverages they sell, and have FUN while they’re at it!

The earning potential may not be what an experienced SaaS salesperson is used to, but maximizing earning potential isn’t the #1 priority for everyone.

It certainly isn’t for me ;)

12 Recently captured jobs

  • Account Executive @ Thompson Safety (Wilmington, MA)

    • Territory sales selling first aid, safety supplies, and training

  • Account Manager @ Dog Curtiss Landscape (Westborough, MA)

    • Full-cycle sales + coordinating crew, materials, and equipment

  • Sales Executive @ Janel Group (Lynnfield, MA)

    • Full-cycle sales in logistics & transportation

  • New Equipment Sales @ Otis Elevator (Agawam, MA)

    • Territory rep (includes in-person sales & presentations)

  • Account Executive @ Sourgum Waste (Jersey City, NJ)

    • Revolutionizing waste & recycling industry

  • Field Sales Rep @ Symmetry Electronics (Boston, MA)

    • Territory rep selling sensors, AV, and wireless connectivity

  • Legal Sales Rep @ Marsden Law (Holliston, MA)

    • Closes engagements with new clients

  • Community Sales @ Hawthorn Senior Living (Hopkinton, MA)

    • B2C sales role w/ a goal of 100% occupancy

  • Field Sales @ Henry Schein (NJ remote)

    • Sell to healthcare practitioners in a specific territory

  • Manager, Inside Sales @ Iron Mountain (Boston, MA)

    • Sell sustainable solutions for records & information management

  • Business Development Manager @ Staples (Philadelphia, PA)

    • Individual contributor focused on healthcare

  • Account Executive @ Expedient (Philadelphia, PA)

    • Territory rep selling IT and cloud solutions

Words of wisdom

Compensation is an important component to consider when thinking about making a career move. Here’s the questions everyone should ask themselves:

  • How does “salary” rank vs my other motivators i.e. stability, earning potential, selling something I’m passionate about, etc.?

  • Do I want to own the full sales cycle or just a portion of it? (owning the full cycle could equate to long-term income growth/stability if you’re able to own, manage, and expand accounts) but means you’d take on more work/your work week might be harder to get into a “routine”

  • How comfortable am I with taking a role with a lower salary but high earning potential? If comfortable, how long can I afford to have lower earnings? (some industries/roles can build earnings quicker than others)

That’s all for this week. Happy hunting!

Jay Green “The Quota Hunter”