Drive For Show, Smile And Dial For Dough!

By Rich Zellmer

20 years ago…I cannot believe it’s been that long. 20 years ago I was a member of the original Minnesota Timberwolves sales and marketing team. I and 8 other sales reps were called the “smile and dial” team. Our job was to smile and dial individuals, companies and close season ticket orders. Collectively, we reached our goal of 15,000 season tickets and set the all time NBA attendance record playing in the Metrodome the first year. That record (25,000 fans per game) still stands today!

So, how does this story relate to selling golf events? The key to selling out golf events is not much different than selling just about any item or service; you need creative sales tools, a sales team, a list and a phone. Everyone agrees golf events are fun and an effective way to raise money for worthy causes. At the same time, PEOPLE sell golf foursomes and event sponsorships, NOT BROCHURES. People have to be willing to step up and sell. Not everyone likes to “sell.” But here’s a low pressure sales process your golf event staff can use to produce sales.

Number 1 – Find someone who is great with desktop publishing. Ask them to produce a simple, colorful and creative email sales flier for the event. Just about everyone reads email these days and email is much less costly than direct mail. The golf event PDF file should include an event website address and point person to contact for more info. Include this phrase at the end of the sales flier; YES! I want to help support this cause, please contact me for details. You’ll need about 4-5 marketing materials all with the same look and same consistent message – you’re raising money for a worthy cause. Other marketing materials can include; an electronic save the date postcard, an event press release with a moving story about the cause and also a “testimonial sentence” from a company or individual closely involved in the event’s cause and an event monthly newsletter that updates your campaign process.

Number 2 – Develop a sales team and a sales team leader. This team usually consists of golf committee members, the event beneficiary board of directors, their staff and friends of the cause. The key to their success is giving them all the electronic marketing materials I mentioned above so they have a variety of tools to use for repeated contact with prospects. The sales leader follows up and makes sure the sales team has fresh, new prospect leads to contact.

Number 3 – Determine a target list of prospects. Who should see the golf event marketing materials? One segment is your “internal” audience. The internal audience is your group of participants familiar with the event; send them your event newsletter. The other segment is an “external” audience” that consists of new prospects that may have an interest in your event and cause. This list needs to be contacted with fresh new email marketing materials every 2 weeks.

Number 4 – Produce sales. You have created fun, diverse and easy to use email marketing materials. Your sales team is in place and ready to smile and dial. You have a target list of prospects and now it’s time to produce sales. The following is an easy, low stress way to produce sales. The “call, email, call again” campaign I recommend is called a sales cadence. Simply start the cadence by calling a prospect at your targeted company (TIP: look at company website press release pages for contact names.) So, call the contact and say something like this “My name is Rich and I volunteer for my college golf event to help raise money to support needy students… I’d like to send you some event information … please give me your email address and I’ll send you a PDF file and I’ll call you back in a few days to answer your questions about the event. No need to try to close the sale with one call. After you send the PDF file call back in 2-3 days and ask the contact what questions they have about the event and ask if they will consider some level of participation. If the answer is no, tell them thanks for your time and email them a press release about the cause, maybe they’ll publish it in their newsletter. A few weeks later send them an event newsletter stating the figure of money raised so far…don’t give up sending and phoning afterwards. The contact will appreciate your “professional persistence.” Send them a save the date electronic postcard, don’t give up. After they buy, send them a handwritten note in the mail – this is a lost art, genuine hand written thank you notes are impressive.

• Here is a key point we found from the Timberwolves “smile and dial” campaign. Using the call/ mail / call again sales cadence is easy and prospects don’t feel threatened or pushed to buy because you give them time. Also, we found there are several points of contacts at a prospective company you can call.

• Try the company sales manager; he will use golf to entertain his best customers.

Contact the company president, networking is a key job for any company president and golf is the ultimate networking tool.

• Start with the company community relations department, your event cause and their company mission may be a good match for them to support.

• The company marketing department may want to co-brand and sponsor the event because the cause will heighten awareness of their brand.

20 years later I still use the call first/ mail/ email/ call again sales cadence, it works!

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