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Golf Event Magazine Article: The Sales Call

Tom Pasha

“Nothing Happens Until Someone Sells Something”

This famous banner hangs in sales offices from Hyatt Hotels to Coca-Cola; it is in French at Evian and in Spanish at Montecristo Cigars.  As the most important part of marketing a golf course, “Selling Something” is the start of every transaction, whether you are increasing memberships or booking a Kiwanis fundraising scramble.

In reading Golf Event Magazine, you’ve seen that one of the most important aspects of managing a tournament is marketing it.  Planners need more golfers, and golf courses need more rounds, and marketing is a key part of filling tee-sheets and tee-times.

Marketing is made up of Direct Sales, Direct Mail, Advertising, Public Relations and Websites, but of all the parts of the picture, the only one that can immediately increase sales and revenue is Direct Sales.  Direct Sales starts with a phone call, yes a “Sales Call,”  to either a new or a current client and inviting that person to bring a  group to your golf course.

The first step is to get past the phrase, “Sales Call.”  Just the name “Sales Call” evokes pictures of sleazy telemarketers, calling from a boiler-room phonebank, trying to sell you swamp-view time-share, usually during dinner.  If you want to become skilled at filling tee-sheets and tee-times, the first bit of applicable advice is to get over that picture.  

Realize that if you use the phone to develop and retain members and golfers just slightly more than you currently do, you will be able to fill more tee-times by working proactively.  Also, if you make just a few more calls than usual, you will also be doing much more than your competition, since they don’t like making Sales Calls, either!

Before you start calling out to group planners, it’s always helpful to remind ourselves that we are representing golf courses and resorts, a job that most people only dream of!  We are not selling Funeral Plans or Encyclopedias, we’re working with some fun and exciting destinations, so calling clients to bring their groups to your course should not be a problem.

Making an effort in a sales call is made up of four key steps:

-- Develop a Call List:  Define a great list of current and potential clients;

-- Scripting: Write up a short and effective call script;

-- Follow-through with information and an easy way for the client to do business with you.

-- Make the Calls and Keep Score:  Call the list and measure your results


Develop a Call List:       

This is the first step to increasing group sales.  First, research all the old group bookings that have been to your course and invite them to book or rebook their event at your course.   Most Golf Pro’s who have a Tournament Director assume that every client gets a follow-up call, but they would be surprised how rarely a follow-up call is made.  Last year, we personally booked over 50 tournaments nationwide for a national financial company, each one for 100 players with a huge Food & Beverage account, and I received a total of 4 follow-up calls.

After you have called your current group clients, the next step is to develop some new group contacts.   The single best way to increase new business is to ask your current members and golfers to refer you to one of their friends or co-workers who might bring a group to your course.  Other ways to increase contacts include placing an ad in the members’ newsletter, calling business cards from a pro-shop promotion, and simply calling your current members list, inviting them to bring their corporate or charity event to your course.


Write a Short and Effective Call Script: 

After you have a list to call, the next step is to pick up a pen, not a telephone, and write a call script.  The key here is to avoid “Selling” and focus on two key words: “Introduce” and “Invite.”  The script starts with a 10-second introduction, called an Elevator Introduction, named for a quick ride in an elevator, where you might strike up a conversation, knowing you only have less than 10 seconds to introduce yourself.

A sample call script might read: 

“Good morning Mr. Jones, my name is Tom Pasha with Quail Covey Golf Course here in Atlanta.  I was calling to introduce you to our golf tournament program, and invite you to see if there may be an interest in bringing a corporate golf event here.”

“Do you have a minute to talk about your golf tournament planning?”

The introduction is short and professional and by asking if the client has a minute to talk, offers the client an option to say that they do or do not have an interest.  If they say they have a minute, you can be sure they would like to talk to you, and may have at least an interest in planning an event.

From the there, you should have a list of features and benefits of doing business with you.  A Feature is the physical attributes of the course: Length, Layout, Slope, Clubhouse description and other items.  A Benefit is those specific areas that benefit the planner:  Great staff to help with details, a PGA pro for announcements and introductions, no issues on food, because of the great catering department and others.  Remember that a Feature describes what the course is, while a Benefit is what the course can do for the planner.

Lastly, after you have discussed the Features and Benefits of the course, ask the client whether there may be an interest from his group.  This is called a Test Close, when you are giving the client the option of working with you or not.  Sometimes the client will give you a date to book on the first call, most of the time, the client will want to visit your course to discuss their tournament.   Booking a visit, comping a round if necessary, and discussing and signing the contract are all steps in bringing the group to your course. 

The next step is to make the booking process as easy as possible.  Have your available tee-times and group rates handy during your sales call.  Be sure to have a booking agreement, credit card application, pairings sheet format, menus, a course policy sheet and all the other information in hard-copy, fax and e-mail formats.  There are many examples of a course losing a booking because of delays in getting information and paperwork to the client.

Finally, be sure to Keep Score of your sales calls.  You might devote an hour a day looking for new business, and keep a stroke-count of the number of calls you made, the number of people with an interest, the number of course visits and the number of new tournaments booked.  You’ll get better at Sales Calls with practice, and like the game of golf, you only get better if you keep score. 

Like almost everything, you will get out of the effort what you put into it.  If you make a halfway effort, expect half-way results.  If you are working to fill all 52 Mondays and Tuesdays of your year, if you work it hard, you have an excellent chance of putting a big dent in those 104 days, almost one-third of your year.   Most courses would be 80% full if they could fill those two days every week and you’d be surprised how happy Owners and Members can be when you are generating incremental revenue without increasing dues or greensfees.

And you’ll be able to see how much can happen when “Somebody Sells Something.

Tel: 407-891-2252 | Fax: 407-891-6428 | E-mail: tpasha@contactplan.com | www.contactplan.com

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