2007 Sales rep of the year: Hunter Hines
By Mitch Rustad
Return phone calls. Fill out orders. Answer your emails. Smile. Repeat often. This simple list adequately describes the job requirements of a successful sales rep, right? Well, not exactly.
“It’s not hard to be a good rep,” says Greg Mason, senior director of sales for HEAD Penn Racquet Sports, “but it’s very difficult to be an exceptional rep. The little things like creativity and work ethic make the difference. It’s about exceeding expectations rather than meeting expectations.”
Colleagues and customers alike agree that Hunter Hines, a sales representative for HEAD Penn in the Southern section, is a rep who truly epitomizes that statement.
Whether he’s running an email contest for customers, personally delivering product in time for a store’s grand opening or personally interacting with more than 220 accounts in metro Atlanta, the rest of Georgia and most of Alabama, Hines exceeds expectations — and then some. And that’s why Hines is RSI’s 2007 Sales Rep of the Year.
“He’s the best rep in the world,” says Bob Patterson, owner of Player’s Choice Tennis in Birmingham, Ala. “He’s so attentive to anything we need, whether it’s providing information on new products or handling a special order, he steps up and either handles it himself or finds someone who can get it done.”
But the infectious enthusiasm that makes going that extra mile for a customer — personally delivering a racquet for a client because they need it in hours (not days or weeks) or offering interesting prizes for charity events or raffles — the norm for Hines is also born from a selfish motive, he says. “You’ve got to be persistent in sales,” says Hines, “but more than anything, you’ve got to enjoy it. I have fun. People pick up on that enjoyment and it makes your job a lot easier.
“It makes it a lot easier to be on the road and away from my family,” adds Hines. “If all we ever talked about was business and work, it would be a lot more difficult. It makes it more fun for me — and for them.”
Of course, taking care of business always comes first for Hines. When one retailer made a last-minute request for “Penny” — the ubiquitous, extra large, inflatable Penn tennis ball — Hines made sure the popular, eye-grabbing ball was overnighted to the client in time for their grand opening.
“When I first started in sales and worked out of my home office, I thought it might be difficult to get motivated, with no office to go to and no one there to catch me coming in late,” says Hines. “But it’s the opposite, actually. There’s never enough time in the day to do everything I feel I need to do. But I haven’t gotten to the point where I turn my phone off at 7 p.m., because I enjoy this job so much.”
And for Hines, it’s this enjoyment of the job that carries over to his customers, too.
“One retailer sent me a letter saying we should clone Hunter and put him in all of our territories,” says Mason, with a laugh. “For a retailer to take the time to write to me about a sales rep, it means he’s really doing what it takes to make people happy.”
Tips for success
- Use creative promotions. Send out an e-mail blast asking everyone to fill out a US Open draw. The retailer who picks the highest number of semifinalists wins a new racquet. “It’s great for me to do with my dealers, but it’s also something great dealers can do with their customers,” says Hines. “I have an account who actually ran with it after participating in my promo, and they had great success with it.”
- Don’t just get to know the managers. The decision-makers aren’t the only ones who drive business. Stringers, floor staff, pros and receptionists can be very influential with customers. “Get to know everyone you work with,” says Hines.
- Know the product. “Online research is a great place to start, but I try my best to get out and actually use as many of my competition’s products — popular racquets, strings, grips, balls — as possible,” says Hines. “That way I can speak honestly about the products in question from personal experience.”
See all articles by Mitch Rustad
About the Author
Mitch Rustad has been a long-time freelance writer based in New York City.