The Customer Experience and Improving Sales at the Golf Course

Many golf professionals that I have known that are in charge of golf shop staffs are put off by any serious discussion of salesmanship as possibly being perceived by members or guests as ‘hard sell’ and put off accordingly.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Improving the customer experience and improving sales at the golf course

Here are some good tips for helping the golf staff better service the members/customers that will enhance their experience and improving sales at the golf course.

  •  Good salesmanship begins before the customer arrives.  Salesmanship is 10% presentation, 90% preparation.  You need to have a compelling presentation of product in order to inspire the customer, but you should rehearse helping customers. The first step should be learning about the products and practicing communication.  Your sales rep will usually help with product knowledge.  Whenever possible, the staff should use personal use discounts to wear or use what they sell.
  •  Great salespeople are easy to spot – they engage the customer and then listen when they speak.  You should resist the temptation to tell the customer all you know until you have heard their needs and concerns.
  •  You should ask open-ended questions and listen carefully to the customer’s answer. A customer who is talking isn’t listening.  You should empathetically listen and then address his or her needs as best you can with your suggestions.  People buy from those they grow to like and create a relationship with – listening conveys empathy and is an important relationship builder.
  •  You don’t always need to be selling our product to be helpful; customers that feel genuinely serviced become loyal customers. You want to bring the expertise and trust you have established onto the floor of the shop.  The most effective way to sell is to focus on the customer’s needs. Find out who the product is for, how it will be used and what criteria the customer/member has in mind for it. That information allows you to suggest products you honestly believe will meet their needs. When they see you are genuinely interested in helping him they will open up, work with you and want to buy from you.
  •  Nothing sells like a personal relationship.  When possible, customers – certainly members – should be welcomed to the shop by name and in the same manner they would be welcomed to your home.

There is nothing new about any of these concepts.  They are true for anyone in retail – not just golf shops.  Sometimes golf staffs lose sight of the fact that they are in the retail business of selling.  Improve the customer experience and work on improving sales at the golf course and you’ll be on the right track.

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Golf Instruction Used To Be Simple

In the battle of simplicity vs. complexity, simplicity wins, every time. We gravitate toward products and services that eliminate complexity from our lives, and we rail against the things that complicate matters and make us feel stupid.

Back in the days of the three-martini lunch, golf instruction was simple and appealing. As a country club member you had a pro at your disposal. He’d work with you on the driving range, play with you, coach you to get better, and monitor your progress.

It was a personalized, one-on-one experience.

No two lessons were the same. He worked with the swing you had, and helped you build the skills you needed to score well on the golf course.

Accountability was built in… You’d practice because you knew the pro was keeping an eye on your progress.

But those days are gone.

Sam Adams Golf Instruction Used to Be Simple

Sam Adams Golf Instruction Used to Be Simple

Today, less than 5% of all golfers have a relationship with a golf pro. According to the NGF, less than half of all golfers have ever taken a lesson, and when they do they are often disappointed. There are 27 million golfers, but less than 4 million lessons in any given year. Maybe we should think about why that is…

Because most lessons are totally intimidating, especially for women. Because most instructors make them way too complex!  And most of all, because they frequently don’t work.

It is a rare instructor who sends the student off with fewer than five or six “things to work on.”  According to Phil Mickelson, even the tour gurus are often guilty of over-instruction. “Can’t you just give me one thing to work on?”

Often it’s a checklist of a dozen mechanical issues that the average guy can’t possibly grasp, much less incorporate into his game. The more technical the lesson is, the worse it gets.

Group lessons and most golf schools are especially ineffective. Common complaints include: “I came back worse than when I started.” “It was just way too technical.” “He didn’t give me anything positive, it was all about what I was doing wrong.”

Video analysis only helps the most analytical, visual learners; Maybe one half of one percent of the golfing population. And yet, instructors routinely use stop motion video to analyze every position and point out every flaw.

More often than not, it’s just confusing and demoralizing for the student.

In an issue of Golf Digest, Jim Flick, one of the top five teachers of all time, wrote an article that sums up the problem with modern golf instruction:

“A lot of today’s teachers are enamored with what works for the tour pros, and they give the same information to their higher-handicap students… In general, trying to swing like most of today’s tour pros will make the average golfer – say a 5 handicap or higher, – only worse.”

Rather than working with the student’s natural swing, today’s teachers tell everyone to emulate Tiger or some other tour player.

They bottom line is that if the golf industry is going to turn things around, the methods of instruction HAVE to change.  We’ve got to make it simple, enjoyable and fun.

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