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Darts | Selling tips | Sportscenter
November 2015

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darts

Charlton Levendal was nominated as a top salesman by Nigel Prout of Opal Sports, local distributor of Unicorn darts, who believes that his extensive product knowledge, understanding of darts and what customers want, and the fact that he plays darts contribute to him being a great salesman. “He is very enthusiastic about darts and understands the game and it’s a pleasure dealing with him,” says Prout. He has found very few salesmen like Levendal, who sell and can play — and at a good level as well, he says. With anything he sells Levendal is 100% committed, his enthusiasm knows no bounds and customers will always find him smiling, being friendly and giving them what they need, adds Prout.

People skills and knowledge, body language and product knowledge are important aspects of sales success, says Charlton Levendal of Sportscentre in George.

The way you approach a customer can determine your success and client satisfaction, he says. Over the years, he has learnt to assess his customers’ profile when they enter his store. With more mature ladies, he finds it is always a good thing to return their smiles, which will help make the approach easier, he says. With other customers who seem to want to be left alone, it is better to let them browse on their own — but be close enough for them to attract your attention when they need you to explain or help them find something.

A salesman should get to know his regular customers as it always makes a good impression if one knows their names and needs, explains Levendal. This type of relationship usually makes a customer happy and although he is not necessarily going to purchase goods from you today, he might be more likely to return to do so than if he had a bad experience.

Talking and interacting with customers also play a role in a salesman’s success and his first interaction with the client normally determines the way forward, says Levendal. Someone who is not a serious buyer would normally not want to interact too much, while a customer who is there to buy will require more interaction, he explains. One must however also balance the amount of interaction to avoid losing a sale, he cautions.

When approaching a customer determining his budget can help pinpoint the products to recommend, he advises. “If money is no object, you know you can offer him the best, but if it is, then start with entry level products.”

Meet a customer’s needs and budget and he will feel that you have met his criteria and respected him, says Levendal. He finds that the more he converses with his client, the easier it is to figure out the products he needs.

It is, however, impossible to do this without the product knowledge and salesmen need to have knowledge of the products they are selling, he believes.

Customers often depend on you for advice, says Levendal, who has seen many customers walk into his store to buy inappropriate products based on advice they received from other people who are not experts and have therefore given them the wrong information.

He then has to rectify the advice and recommend something else that will suit the customer’s requirements. When doing so, he is ultimately vouching that the product will work for the customer, and in order to do so, a salesman must know the ins and outs of the products he is selling, he explains. Giving a customer the wrong information could result in him returning to your store with complaints, or leave such a bad impression that he just stays away, adds Levendal.

A salesman can gain knowledge, like Levendal does, by using the products he sells. When a new product comes in he reads the packaging to find out more about the product. He also plays darts every weekend, which helps him learn more about them and further improves his sales, he explains. Training from suppliers is also an effective way of learning about the products you sell, he says. Suppliers visit his store every second month and he uses these opportunities to ask questions about any new products he will purchase.

The suppliers’ knowledge regarding product specifications, manufacturing and experience with products is crucial to know and helps one market the products better, he believes.

In-store training is also helpful because staff can share their knowledge, customer questions, the right answers and receive useful advice on sales techniques they can employ in order to help them sell products better, he says.

More about Charlton Levendal

From produce sales to sports product sales, Charlton Levendal from Sportscentre in George, has been involved in a whole spectrum of retailing for more than 20 years — 13 of which have been spent working in sporting goods retail stores.

Levendal was working as a fruit and vegetable seller when one of his regular customers, who owned a retail store, offered him a position as a salesman and he has “never regretted taking the opportunity as I love working with people,” he says.

He worked for the Sports City group for approximately ten years during which he gained experience in clothing sales. Thereafter, he worked in the hotel industry as a barman, before joining Sportscentre in 2009.

“I started as a salesman, but within a year I was promoted to floor manager,” says Levendal. This position has increased his knowledge about a number of products, because he has to know everything there is to know about every product on the floor, he explains.

Levendal not only sells darts, but has also been playing it for 18 years after he was introduced to the sport while assisting a friend at a local pub after hours. He is an avid supporter of local dart competitions and often participates in events sponsored by Sportscentre and Unicorn. He has even won a prize, but due to time constraints is unable to participate in leagues, he explains.


Expert tips for selling darts

To succeed in selling darts, you must always have stock on your shelves, says Charlton Levendal of Sportscentre in George. It is important to have stock and different types of the same product because not every customer who walks into your store will be the same — customers who purchase darts have different abilities and you have to be able to cater to everyone’s needs, he says.

Because darts are constructed from a number of different parts, which tend to get damaged and need to be replaced over time, retailers should therefore remember to keep stock of accessories like spare barrels, shafts, flights and tips advises Levendal. The frequency of this happening will however be related to the level of the player’s skill and frequency of use, he says.

Sportscentre has a tester board where customers and staff can try out any new dart products that come in. This is a way of giving his salesman an opportunity to learn more about the products they are selling.

It is also practical for customers to test the darts he sells and the board has made a positive difference to sales, because 80% of the time the customers end up purchasing the products they have tried, he says.

If customers want to test more expensive darts Levendal makes them aware that if the product is spoilt they will then have to purchase it. But he has never had a problem where customers actually damage the products, he says.

Barrels

Have stock of all barrel sizes and weights (19-27g), because even if you tell the customer a certain weight is too heavy for him, he might tell you that is what he plays with and wants, says Levendal. In that case you will be turning a customer away if you can’t provide what he wants. All league players come to buy from him because they know he will definitely have what they need, says Levendal.

In his store, medium weight dart barrels generally sell better than any other. He also finds that heavier darts are more likely to be purchased by experienced players who are specific about the product and weight they want.

Straight barrels are also more popular with social and competition players, whereas Torpedo barrels are suited to intermediate players, and bomb barrels more appropriate for beginners, he says.

“With darts it’s go big or go home! Because you never know what is going to sell,” says Levendal. December holidays are big sale days for him because people are more likely to buy darts to keep their kids busy. And because people are not buying for specific game use, it is also a good way of getting rid of older stock, he recommends.

Flights

Although flights come in different textures, colours and logos, Levendal finds that smooth flights and long life flights are the most popular. Customers also tend to go for flashy flights, regardless of shape or size, and how it will affect their game. “Country flags are always a good seller and lady players will take anything in pink,” he says.

Grips

Beginners will benefit more from a rougher grip (or bigger knurling) as they throw harder, says Levendal. Smoother grips, on the other hand, do not offer much grip and are more appropriate for good players that know how to throw.

Shafts

First time buyers often purchase aluminium shafts as opposed to plastic, which break even more easily if it falls, he says. Retailers should, however, advise their customers that although aluminium does not break easily, it bends quickly and it will have a negative impact on their game. Shaft sizes are down to personal preference more than anything else, says Levendal, who plays with the medium variety for the simple fact that it is the standard size darts come in.

Dart boards

Inform the customer about the specifications, benefits and negatives of the dart boards you are selling him, says Levendal. Dart boards are made from “bristle” material and come in wire or blade designs, which are more suited to competition rather than recreation playing.

He prefers dart boards with ultra thin wire as it increases the playing area by 11%, especially in doubles and trebles. These boards are also totally staple free, which helps minimise bounce outs. “These boards are, however, more costly due to the more expensive materials used in their manufacturing.”

Customers tend to purchase dart boards according to their budget and needs, says Levendal, therefore it is advisable to stock a variety of options. A store should therefore have boards for league as well as entry level customers to cater for all pockets and needs.

Space to pack his dart boards is also not an issue as he uses a cabinet supplied by the company he purchases from, says Levendal. “If the cabinet is filled, I know I have enough stock,” he says.


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