Update from the 51st NSGA Conference

The National Sporting Goods Association is holding its 51st Annual Management Conference in Austin, Texas.

The National Sporting Goods Association is holding its 51st Annual Management Conference in Austin, Texas.

The National Sporting Goods Association is holding its 51st Annual Management conference and 17th Annual Team Dealer Summit May 3-6 in Austin, Texas. Although I’m not able to attend personally this year, I’m there in spirit, getting plenty of updates from team members attending on behalf of Stahls’. This industry networking and educational event is something I don’t like to miss. Here are some photos and highlights of the meeting so far:

1. Keynote Speaker Cal Ripkin Jr. Even if you’re not a baseball fan, everyone has heard the name Cal Ripkin Jr. Known as baseball’s “Iron Man,” he is revered for playing 2,632 consecutive games, breaking Lou Gehrig’s record of 2,130. He’s a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame and played for the Baltimore Orioles for 21 seasons. So what did he have to share with the NSGA crowd? Insights on perseverance from his book, Get in the Game: 8 Elements of Perseverance That Make the Difference. Many of the attributes that made him a successful athlete can be applied to business life, such as the need to fight against complacency and being willing to compete against younger guys. As he said,  you can’t always make the game-winning catch or hit, but you have to be ready to perform your best every day. You need to solve problems quickly and you need to make yourself irreplaceable. He mentioned that it was really the managers that allowed him to break the record for consecutive games, because they are the ones who chose to put him in the game. But if he didn’t perform, he wouldn’t have been chosen to play. So he had to step up every day and make sure he was the best man for the job on any given day. Sounds a lot like what businesses need to do in order to keep customers. You need to make sure you are better than your competitors and that you offer services that are irreplaceable. He also shared his favorite quote from Theodore Roosevelt, which reinforces the idea that you can’t accomplish anything from the sidelines.

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

In other words success usually requires taking risks. What risks will your business be taking this year? How are you going outside of your comfort zone? What are you doing to improve your service abilities and product offering?

Along those same lines, team dealers had the opportunity to attend another presentation by Matt Ristler of Sandler Training. Matt gave insight on the psychology of selling, breaking down the normal sales cycle from the viewpoint of both the seller and the buyer. He reminded the audience of how important it is to not act like a stereotypical sales person. “The credibility of a salesperson is measured not by the knowledge you share, but by the information you receive.” What does this mean? To me it means “shut up and listen.” Too many sales people want to talk constantly and most people are turned off by pushy, talkative sales calls. I know I am. He told a story about using “disarming honesty” to disrupt patterns or the way customers normally see you. For example, one client was having no luck with cold-calling customers for his electric business. He would call and say “Hi, I’m Tony and I’m calling to see if you need my services.” After thousands of calls, he had no appointments. Matt suggested that Tony take a different tone. “Hi, you don’t know me, but my name is Tony and I’m very nervous, I don’t like cold calling. But if you have 30 seconds, I’d like to tell you about what I’m doing.” By being “disruptively honest” Tony was much more successful in finding new clients and scheduling appointments. Great food for thought.

Jason Murphy, GroupeSTAHL Sales Alliance, had the honor of introducing the keynote speaker, Cal Ripkin Jr.

Jason Murphy, GroupeSTAHL Sales Alliance, had the honor of introducing the keynote speaker, Cal Ripkin Jr.

Cal Ripkin Jr. drives home the point.

Cal Ripkin Jr. drives home the point.

Matt Ristler of Sandler Training reminded sales professionals to be disarmingly honest. Great advice.

Matt Ristler of Sandler Training reminded sales professionals to be disarmingly honest. Great advice.

A new component of the conference this year included an Innovation  Arena. The exhibitors at this mini-tradeshow were personally selected by NSGA board members, allowing attendees to get a first look at up and coming products and technology. One of the companies, Titin, was recently featured on Shark Tank.

A new component of the conference this year included an Innovation Arena. The exhibitors at this mini-tradeshow were personally selected by NSGA board members, allowing attendees to get a first look at up and coming products and technology. One of the companies, Titin, was recently featured on Shark Tank.

My son Brett shared this photo from lunch, where he sat with Garnet Alexander, Director Development Services for Bauer. Garnet accepted the NSGA Award for Industry Catalyst for innovation.

My son Brett shared this photo from lunch, where he sat with Garnet Alexander, Director Development Services for Bauer (far left). Garnet accepted the NSGA Award for Industry Catalyst for innovation.

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