Pointers from the Pro Shop
Golf is hard. Keep your left arm straight, but not too straight. Bend your knees, but not too much. Turn your belt buckle away and then through the ball, but keep your eye on the ball the whole time. Keeping your head down, and make sure your feet are square and the ball is forward in your stance when driving and only breathe in during your upswing if it's the second Saturday of a month beginning in J and the moon is in it's waning period. What's not difficult, however, is selling golf items and accessories.
We spoke to Wayne Cimperman, president of Vegas Golf/Foxyware, Port St. Lucie, Fla.; Kathy Doyle, office manager/sales for Par One Golf Specialties, Cleveland; and Tim Hanson, president of Ball Pro Promotional Group, Eden Prairie, Minn., about items end-users enjoy, and how distributors can keep their sales under par (that's a good thing in golf).
PAY ATTENTION TO BRANDS
Most golfers have a favorite brand when it comes to equipment and distributors should take that into account. Cimperman noted that big-time golfers usually have a favorite ball company or apparel brand. "If you give them the wrong brand ball, they're going to give it to the kids to roll around in the hallway or get rid of them."
Hanson added that the Titleist ProV1 golf ball is one of the most popular in golf and should be included in most programs, but other brands could be included for end-users who may not be avid golfers, especially if the brands are in different price points. "We normally recommend a lower price ball, like the Callaway Warbird 2.0, for most events, as 75 percent of the golfers in tournaments only play a few times a year and would rather have new and unique products than all the money spent on a golf ball," he said.
PUT TOGETHER PACKAGES
Unlike some sports, golf requires more equipment than just a ball. Selling multiple products in a package works well for events, such as tournaments, and packages are often well-received by end-users.
Hanson said that packages work well as giveaways at tournaments and events, though sometimes event planners don't know a lot about them. "[Event planners] will tell you they need balls or towels for an event," he explained. "When you sell golf balls, the margin is only 20 percent, as you are competing with golf retailers and courses for the business. If you sell solutions—i.e., kits, the balls are buried into the kit—it is what your client is looking for and you will make 40 percent, thus everyone is happy."
Cimperman noted that finding interesting items could be a key to success. "Everybody has done the ball, the umbrella and towel," he said. "Find something that golfers will use every time they go golfing but isn't brand specific like a ball or hat." He listed ball markers and tees as good items to include in packages or giveaway bags.
FIND NEW CLIENTS
With so many opportunities for selling golf items, distributors have a variety of ways to get new business. Cimperman provided a few examples of how distributors can find new clients. "Pick out your top five golf courses where you live, write them down and call them," he said. "See if they have events coming up. Right there they just told you what tournaments are coming up, and odds are the sponsors are from your area." From there, distributors can talk to local sponsors about promotional items they could use at the tournament or outing. He also said that watching golf programs on TV and paying attention to which companies advertise can be a good place to start.
FOCUS ON SALES, NOT YOUR SWING
In order to be successful in golf sales, distributors don't actually have to be well-versed in golf itself. Cimperman said that knowing the game isn't what's important when it comes to selling golf items and accessories.
"Some [distributors] get intimidated and don't understand, and they say, 'Maybe I shouldn't sell golf because I don't know the game,'" he said. "If anything, send [clients] a sample and say, 'I think I have a great item for your next promotion.' You don't have to know a single thing about golf."
Though distributors don't need to be experts on the course, Doyle said that it helps to know what's popular in the market. "I don't think you need to know [golf] to be successful in the business," she said. "You can learn a lot of what you need to know by reading current golf publications, and staying up on the latest news and product equipment."
Hanson mentioned that Ball Pro has several webinars on selling golf items, as well as a golf tournament planner that distributors can read in about five minutes. "Within a very short time you will be able to talk the talk," he said, "which will remove the fear of selling golf to golfers as well as helping fundraising golf tournaments raise more money."