Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Charley Kiel. Charley has been an independent sales rep in the highly competitive golf industry for ten years. In 2016 Charley was introduced to a relationship marketing strategy and system that exploded his sales volume and referrals. It helped him enhance relationships, create more opportunities, as well as save him time and money. Charley will explain how in the past two years, this strategy has increased his sales volume and referrals by more than 40%, and in the 1st quarter of 2018, a mind-blowing 275% increase over the same period last year!
Kody Bateman: Hey everybody. This is Kody Bateman. Welcome to a new version of Relationship Marketing Weekly. We’re excited to have a very special guest on with us today. Make sure that as you log in, you say hello to us. We have people that are coming in from all over the world to listen to this show. It’s pretty exciting to watch the names and where you’re come from come across all throughout the US, through Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore. Welcome to the Facebook Live show that we have here today.
Very special guest coming to us from CK Golf Brands. He’s in the golf industry. Please welcome Charley Kiel. Charley, welcome to our call today.
Charley Kiel: Hey Kody. Thanks so much for having me.
Kody: Yeah, it’s great to have you. I’ve got all my buddies right now starting to golf again and they’re trying to get me into golfing again and I got to go find – I’m a left-hander. I got to go find clubs. So it’s – I might just talk to about golf on this show today, you know, to learn how to get back into it. We’re really excited to have you on the show. Obviously you’ve been a strong golf advocate for 26 years. You’ve been in the golf industry in 10 years as a sales rep. You have your own company called CK Golf Brands.
You know, most people, when they think of golf, they think of playing golf. They don’t think of an occupation of golf or, you know. Tell us a little bit about your business. What is CK Golf Brands? What do you do and who’s your clientele?
Charley: Sure. First and foremost, thanks so much for having me on the Relationship Weekly this week. CK Golf Brands, I actually was a company rep from MacGregor before CK Golf Brands kind of came about as a company guy and then they kind of went away and I made a decision that I wanted to continue in as a sales rep in the golf business.
So my clientele were actually the guys that I used to be and that was the golf professionals at the country club level, the golf club level, the retail level and as well as some associations that I work with as well.
So those are the guys that I call in from my four states, from Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa and ever since 2008 when I kind of started this voyage, I just have looked at building those relationships with the guys that I used to – actually I used to be that guy and the sales reps would call on me. So I had a pretty good idea of where I wanted to go with my business, the brands I wanted to represent. Obviously there was some turn and changeover with some different brands to where I’m at now and it has been obviously very, very – a lot of fun. People think of the golf industry and it’s like, “Oh, you must play golf all the time.” We don’t.
Kody: They don’t play at all now.
Charley: Actually, I haven’t played this year at all. I have a 13-year-old son that’s really eager to get into the game and play. So that’s going to – motivating me at the end to do that.
Kody: So when you say you rep a lot of brands, so you kind of help people that are in the pro shop at the golf course. So do you sell like apparel, equipment? What do you sell?
Charley: Sure. I used to sell apparel. I got away from that last year and I really focused on a lot of key accessories. So I have Sterling Cut Glass, Maui Jim eyewear, Nexbelt. I have Stance socks, a really cool leather bag company called Tica Leather out of Florida and then a conglomerate of brands called Dynamic Brands, which is pushcarts, towels and travel gear and bags.
So I represent those six different brands on a direct business to business relationship for my four states.
Kody: OK. So yeah, so you – and you used to be on the buying side of this.
Charley: Exactly, yes.
Kody: Yeah. So you kind of know what the buyer is looking for and probably know how you want to be – how a buyer wants to be treated because you were one for quite a few years before you sold, right?
Charley: Yes, very much so.
Charley: So, well tell us a little bit, what is your approach? Why should a golf shop purchase those items from you versus – I’m sure it’s very competitive. What separates you from your competition?
Kody: I think basically they understand – I know I’ve been in their shoes, number one. Number two, the brands I’m representing are key significant lines in the business and they kind of separate themselves a little bit.
So with the combination along with the relationships, it’s provided for me to go in and – my objective isn’t just to sell one brand in the golf shop. It’s to sell all six in the golf shop and obviously along with that is dig up additional business with events and tournaments. So much of our business in the golf industry is tournaments and member guests and member events and corporate events. I did some a math a few years ago and realized just in my four states with me “higher-end country clubs” and B [0:05:14] [Phonetic] clubs, main golf clubs, there was probably nearly a $2.5 million to $3 million business just in tournament volume there.
Charley: Outside of what I stock in the golf shops and with those golf shops turnover from a specialty retail standpoint.
Kody: So yeah, when you say tournament, tournament sales, so what kind of things do you sell for tournaments?
Charley: Really good example, I will go into a country club. I’ve got actually two this week and with Maui Jim and I will actually fit Maui Jim sunglasses to all the guests and the members coming to this event. Some will be 100, 120. I will have one next week that’s 160. I had one in 2017 that was 200 players and when you start doing the math, that starts adding up really, really quick.
Kody: That’s interesting, very interesting. I know one of the stories that you had was – so you do some corporate sales because one of the stories you had, you talk about working with a car dealership. In fact can you tell us that story, just working with the car dealership and what you did there?
Charley: Sure. So back in December of 2016, I had a country club in Columbia, Missouri over in the center of Missouri call me and said, “Hey, we’ve got a car dealership, a VP of car dealerships over in Columbia that wanted to fit about 30 other sales professionals with Maui Jims.”
So I went over. It was December, freezing rain and ice. Nearly got into an accident but made my way over there. Spent about an hour, fitted 30 of their top sales professionals for that year and sent a gentleman, Mr. Nooner [0:06:52] [Phonetic], a really nice thank-you card with brownies after the event. Put them on my drip list as far as campaigns. Sent them some cards last year in ’17 as well as a holiday card and I had this tournament in Columbia last month on the 21st at another country club in Columbia and all of a sudden, Mr. Nooner [Phonetic] is right there shaking my hands saying, “Hey, thanks so much for coming over,” and I kind of scratched my temple and I soon realized he was actually on the board of that tournament.
He had given kind of a nudge to that actual tournament director after the event was done and saying, “Hey, Charley has got other products in his portfolio. Definitely get with him on ideas for the rest of our season and into 2019’s tournament schedule.
Kody: You never know the connections that people have that you work with.
Kody: I have a seminar that I do and sometimes I will have people stand up and have them look at the person next to them who might be a stranger and I say, “You need this.” Look them in the eye and say, “You haven’t got a clue who you’re standing next to.” Just to add a little fun, but it’s just indication because that really is key to success in business and you’ve already mentioned it. Relationships are everything. You’re very professional. You take care of people but you follow up with people and you didn’t send this guy just a thank-you card with brownies. You sent him four or five tangible touches over the course of a year.
Kody: And then out of the blue, you meet him at a separate event and he’s over something totally different, which gives you more business. So that’s what it’s all about. What I found Charlie – I want you to talk about this a little bit. Most people that we try to train on relationship marketing, for whatever reason, they just – they don’t want to make the investment. It’s like – and it’s not money investment because the money, it’s very cost-effective to do relationship marketing, more cost-effective than any other form of marketing.
So it’s not the money investment. It’s the emotional investment into genuinely caring about other human beings because that’s what we teach. All you got to do is really show people that you care and a lot of people – some might be your competition, whatever – just don’t want to make the emotional investment in that. Why do you think that is and what makes you want to reach out to people emotionally that way?
Charley: Well, first and foremost, those relationships eventually put food on my table.
Charley: I’ve got to take care of them and we can all think from the mind. But if we truly think from the heart and people realize in a card – when they receive a card and brownies from you, that it was out of heartfelt emotions that you sent that and not just hey, I’m looking for my next sale from you. I think people can – people are smart people. They can digest that. They can see where you’re going with it in regards to – you know, if it’s heartfelt or if it’s out of just plain to get more business.
I learned at a very early age – I had an incredible mother, incredible parents, that taught me to write thank-you cards even in our early age. So when this came about to me back in January 2016, it was – I couldn’t get my card out fast enough and get signed up.
But to kind of really answer your question, I think – I love working with the guys that I work with and as well as there are some ladies that I work with as far as the buyers and the merchandisers.
But I just genuinely like taking care of people and because it’s – where I came from, I want to be taken care of. I want to take care of them the way I was taken care of by a lot of the premium reps that called on me when I was a club professional.
Kody: So in other words, simply treat people the way you want to be treated.
Kody: You were a buyer first for many years. Now you’re a seller and you’ve just implemented that where you just want to be treated this – you want to be treated the way – or you want to treat people the way that you wanted to be treated and you’ve incorporated that.
Obviously you used greeting cards and gifts as tangible touches. I’m sure there are other ways that you communicate with people and what not. But talk to us right now, just tell us a little bit about the importance of the tangible touch. A real greeting card in the mail, maybe a gift attached. Why is it so important? Because that’s another thing a lot of people say is, yeah, that’s the digital world now. I really don’t need to do that stuff.
In your mind, why is it so important to send a tangible touch out to somebody?
Charley: I’ve always called SendOutCards my secret weapon and the reason why I say that is I think it helps separate me from the competition of other brands and other people in my industry, in my territory and the other thing I look at is we all can survive by making a phone call, making an appointment, having the emails and the follow-up. But I’m not here to survive. I’m here to thrive and that’s where I add the – oh, gosh, the gratitude, the appreciation and also the recognition.
I had a club professional, actually a general manager over in St. Louis, call me about a month ago and of course I follow a lot of the guys on Facebook and I get their birthdays on my radar. I have a list right now for the rest of June and I will knock out a couple, two or three birthday cards with brownies each – every couple of days. He called me and he said, “Man, thanks so much for the really cool card and the brownies.”
I said, “Oh, you’re more than welcome.” I said, “I really appreciate all the things you guys have done through the years with me.” This club did a really beautiful Maui Jim event last year with me in 2017 and he said – right out of his mouth, he goes, “There’s not another rep that does that.”
It really kind of brought a sense of just pride to myself. But at the same time, it’s like, “Why aren’t other people doing this?” This is just heartfelt. I mean I truly care about their operation and themselves because I know they’re putting a lot of hours away from their families and during the prime of the season.
Kody: That’s good stuff, that’s good stuff, Charley. So you mentioned that you have, over the last couple of years, a 40 percent increase in sales and a 40 percent increase in referral business. What do you attribute that to?
Charley: I definitely attribute it to a combination of things, better brands. But I think the relationship marketing and using SendOutCards have taken me a huge, huge leap forward and just separating myself and people realizing, “Hey, this guy is all about the heart. We want to return business back to him.”
If it’s in a simple thank-you card, if it’s in a card that they get unexpectedly, whether it’s through the season, when they know it’s a grind and they get just a funny tangible touch in the mail to say, “He gets it. He knows our world,” as well as a birthday card with brownies or a Starbucks card or sea salt caramels, whatever it might be.
I think that has been the ultimate thing in my whole realm of business resources and that has been using SendOutCards.
Kody: Wow, that’s great. I noticed too in the notes here that you’ve had a real spike, a big spike in business the first quarter of 2018. I think it says 275 percent increase for last year’s first quarter. I mean anybody would be interested in that. How do you get that big of a spike in one quarter? I mean what do you attribute that to?
Charley: Sure. So that was specifically on Maui Jim, my one high-end eyewear line, and I attribute it to a combination of things. The competition kind of having some rough difficulties with their customer service. I attribute it to a combination of cards going out at different times late last year and into the spring, basically having the opportunity to take their business to another level.
It’s a combination of not only more products from the golf shop but it’s the continuing customer service and the follow-up, but as well as dripping those cards to them and reassuring them that hey, if there’s ever anything that you need, I will be out on the trail seeing you, updating your – the merchandising and the display, keeping you trained on the product and just taking care of them. It’s just downright taking care of the customer.
Kody: Absolutely. Now you’ve got a couple of cool card examples there. Do you want to show those off a little bit and tell us about them?
Charley: Sure. So this is a card. I found this kind of funky, chubby, little baby on the front. I basically found it on Google Images by searching for game face and I know that June is always a really challenging month for the golf professionals. So what I did is I just grabbed this picture, put in, “Hey, it’s June in the golf industry. Time to have your game face on,” and just a quick little, “Hey, hope you’re doing well. Let me know if I can ever help with anything down the road.”
That just started going out. I just started that out there within the last week and a half, two weeks. I’ve got some other cards and drip campaigns that will go out here later this summer and fall as we kind of wrap up the golf season into late October, November.
Kody: One of the things I noticed about your cards is first of all, they’re fun. They’re cute. That picture, that’s going to bring a smile and a laugh to somebody. But you don’t ask for anything in those. You’re basically just connecting. You’re just connecting and saying, “Hey, I’m here for you.” You don’t ask for anything and we teach that a lot. We teach the importance of appreciation wins over self-promotion every single time. I noticed that in the cards that you send out, it’s really all about the relationship and I hope that our listeners can pick up on that example because it’s – I think it’s really important.
Well, listen, Charley. It has been wonderful to kind of get to know your business a little bit and what you do. You’re a great example to all of us. Any final words? I always like to close the show with final golden nuggets. From Charley Kiel, CK Golf Brands, final words of wisdom. Go ahead.
Charley: Oh, Kody, thanks so much for allowing me to be on here. I appreciate all you guys, what you’re doing at SendOutCards. My nugget is just pretty darn simple. It’s all about the appreciation and gratitude and don’t forget the recognition. I send out cards for guys that have gotten new jobs, gone from an assistant golf professional to now a head golf professional or general manager job and I am cognizant of that online, whether it’s Facebook or word of mouth. Just find the recognition that people – they really truly want to desire recognition and appreciation.
Kody: Well, there you have it, my friends. Charley Kiel and thank you so much for being on the show today. If you want to find out more about how Charlie does send these cards and gifts out, get back with the person that shared this show with you today. I’m sure they can help you out. Stay tuned for another week next week. We will be on once again. Take care everybody now.