The 1-On-1 Project: Allen Reynolds
Team Sales Manager, Cook’s Sporting Goods, North Wilkesboro, NC
Allen Reynolds, currently the Team Sales Manager at Cook’s Sporting Goods, has sold sporting goods for the past 12 years in his more than 33 years of sales experience. Team Insight caught up with him to get his insight into the state of team sports in 2022, how the business has changed and where he thinks it is headed in the future.
Team Insight: Let’s talk team sports in general first. You’ve been in this business a long time — how does the current state of the business compare to “the good old days?”
Allen Reynolds: Cook’s has been in business since 1946 and has seen several generational changes. The current state of the industry is like walking barefoot on a gravel road — it seems every order gets harder and harder to fill and takes more time to complete. I can remember 30 years ago, most of my dad’s printing orders were one color, athletic block team name on the front. Now everyone wants a fully custom two- or three-color logo.
What’s a typical day like as we head into the winter season?
I am not sure what a typical day is to be honest. You think you have your day or week planned out and after several phone calls and emails everything changes. This business never sleeps and always keeps me on my toes.
So what gets you motivated in the morning?
Our customers are my daily motivation — striving to give them the best possible service is my goal.
On the flip side, what keeps you awake at night?
Everything keeps me up at night to be honest. There are so many moving parts in this business that the slightest thing can get your mind going and it is hard to shut it off.
Now let’s talk about sports in particular: What are your “hottest” and most important sports these days?
Football is still king, but baseball and softball are hard charging for the lead. Travel ball teams are a large part of the charge — it seems that those teams are playing almost year round now.
What is the biggest challenge for team dealers headed into 2023?
There are too many to list here, lol.
That’s for sure, but give it a try.
Between inventory issues, higher prices and possible budget cuts within schools, 2023 could be a very interesting year. This year seemed to have state government grants floating around everywhere, but I’m not sure we will see this in the coming year.
How do you make sure your ADs and coaches are prepared for these challenges as well?
We ask on a regular basis about future projects, such as uniform rotations and beautification projects. It is very important to know at least 8-12 months in advance of what is coming down the pipeline.
We are always interested in how team dealers are utilizing all of the new technology available to them. So how have the various tech advances – team stores, Zoom calls, online ordering, etc. – impacted how you do business?
As an old-school guy I’d rather be sitting down in front of a coach writing orders, but I also know that if you are not embracing technology you’re falling behind. Technology is a necessary evil of sorts. Cook’s has a great staff that keeps us up-to-date on all the latest. Online stores continue to grow by leaps and bounds every year and those companies are doing a terrific job staying ahead of the curve.
So you embrace technology?
Well the bottom line is that nothing beats one-on-one conversations with your customer. But we’ll leave it at that.
Selling any pickleball products yet?
Pickleball is exploding for our retail division. We offer a full line of paddles, shoes and accessories. I’m pretty sure this sport is here to stay.
Do you have any advice to younger team dealers and roadmen about how to succeed in selling team sports?
My best piece of advice is to be a salesman and not an order taker. Under promise and over deliver. Go see people — sit down and listen to their needs. And last but not least, get to know them personally.
Finally, how long is Allen Reynolds going to be selling balls and uniforms? What’s next for you personally?
I feel like I will be in this business for a very long time, Lord willing! Sporting goods runs in my blood and my customers/friends in the business make it very enjoyable.