Sales Rep of the Year: Rick Walsh
In many ways, it’s surprising Rick Walsh wasn’t in the tennis industry earlier in his career. The former junior standout and small-college tennis coach — and avid tournament and rec player — spent nearly 20 years in the insurance industry before he wised up.
Walsh, of Kansas City, Kan., joined Babolat nearly three years ago as a rep for the Missouri Valley region, plus Arkansas. “I have a lot of passion for the game,” he says. “I’ve been a player all my life, so it was a relatively easy transition because I was familiar with the game, equipment and the territory.”
“All of Rick’s dealers really like him, and he goes far and away to service dealers and customers — he’s always there for them,” says Mickey Maule, Babolat’s national sales manager. Walsh not only gets involved at the grassroots and provides excellent service, he moves product, too. That’s why he is RSI’s Sales Rep of the Year.
“I’ve known Rick a long time,” says John Tidrick of the retail store TennisSet.com in Lenexa, Kan. “We’re fortunate to have him. He’s a wonderful rep and is so conscientious. He’s always there to help us with anything we need.”
The Babolat brand has been growing recently, and Walsh credits his own success to the brand’s growth. “Everyone at Babolat will admit we have growing pains,” says Walsh, who received the company’s sales rep of the year award this past fall. “But we have a management team that is small enough to adjust and make quick decisions. And with our success now in sales, we can all continue to get more involved with grassroots things and build even more brand awareness.”
Tips for success
- Don’t try to oversell a program. Be aware that dealers have inventory risk, margins and customer expectations.
- Understand your accounts’ points of view. That way, you can better develop a business relationship.
- Listen to dealers, and take the feedback back to your managers.
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of Tennis Industry magazine.