Swinging into a Dream: A chat with Sean Manias

By Bruce Cameron.

Just a couple of perfect swings and maybe one or two extremely fine putts (and that clunky, goofy, yet heavenly sound of a ball falling into a hole) can do it: before you can say the name “Tiger,” the game of golf has snuck down under your skin and into your veins, linking you forever with the links. The game of sales can be just as addictive. When you put them together you have a true believer by the name of Sean Manias.

After graduating from high school, the Burlington native attended Queen’s University for three years, all the while holding onto dreams of working in and around the game of golf. He then joined ClubLink for a couple of years, directing food and beverage operations at The Lake Joseph Club in Port Elgin. While there, Sean ran into some top execs from Xerox. The sales bug soon hit. So Sean next found himself as a sales rep for Xerox, becoming in the process

…making way too much money at too young an age.

Seven years of that was enough. And all the while, the golf course kept calling. And so his life took its eventual true course, combining both sales and Seans passion for the game.

Out of the six different college golf programs available in Canada, Sean decided to enrol in Georgian’s Professional Golf Management program. As Sean stated,

Georgian’s program was the logical choice. Obviously Georgian’s proximity to Toronto and Burlington helped but ideally it was the best school. The biggest reason was program co-ordinator Brad Doey. His knowledge, his ability to share that knowledge, his effort with everything; it just made it easy for me to make that decision.

After Sean graduated, he swung into the position of golf operation sales at The Diamond in The Ruff, near Parry Sound. Not content to rely only on traditional golf course marketing approaches, Sean took some sales principles gleaned from his fast and furious sales rep years at Xerox.

The point is this, Golf revenue these days and for the next several years needs to be ‘hunted,’ like at Xerox or IBM. Every course has their base and they probably know what they’re going to do within seven or eight per cent, one way or the other. But if you have a hunter to give you exponential growth or unencumbered revenue, it’s pure profit. Why would you not have one on board?

says Sean.

Sean decided to answer his own question. Securing a green light from Diamond In The Ruff general manager (and Georgian instructor) Doug Wilson, he went out and scored with a little help from “a former city planner who knew everybody,” a mother-lode of prominent Huntsville-area business contacts. With this huge, handy database Sean then wrote and hand-delivered a letter to each person on the list, zeroing in on one-to-one conversations with these brand new potential corporate customers. If that meant he had to “pull a little business away from Deerhurst,” well, so be it. But the main goal was to get those corporate contacts to start thinking how they could, in Sean’s words,

…improve our reward and recognition and send our customers and clients up to the Diamond.

The experiment worked.

You can expect Sean to take that particular game much further in the 2008 season. After all, as Sean said, he still has stuff to do in life:

Get to know the business side of golf, take my sales ability and my passion for the game, half-retire and do that for the rest of my life. And make a million dollars doing it.

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