Until you've exhausted all the possible distribution channels, you'll never really know whether you have a best-seller on your hands. When Barney Adams couldn't sell his golf clubs through the major sports chains, he took them to the golf course and began custom-fitting them for clients. Although only 15% of all clubs and accessories are sold through golf course pro shops, Adams Golf's unique "Tight Lies" club suddenly took off. "Within a few months, we went from zero calls to 20 to 30 a week," recalls Adams, founder and CEO of the Plano, Tex., company. How could the company capitalize on the growing popularity of the club before a heavy hitter moved in on the action?
In the fourth quarter of 1995, Mark Gonsalves, vice-president of sales and marketing, convinced Adams to hire inside salespeople to call retail accounts. Although many end-users hate to be called at home at night, retailers will take time to listen to a telemarketer's pitch. Since then, sales have grown by 3,500%, and Adams has landed more than 6,000 retail accounts, including many of the same stores he couldn't penetrate years earlier when he called on them in person.