Selling golf clubs can be as tough as birdying the wind-whipped 7th hole at Pebble Beach. Just ask the 100 salespeople working for TaylorMade-adidas Co. In the past, when sales reps visited the 10,000 golf shops around the U.S., they would spend nearly two hours a day counting the titanium drivers and 9 irons left in inventory before filling out order forms by hand.
That all changed in January when TaylorMade doled out handheld devices that sport bar-code readers and Internet connections. Now reps simply point the handheld at the bar code on each club to automatically tally inventory. Then they can focus on helping the retail customer boost sales. Sales-rep productivity is up 25%. And the system helped boost sales this year, allowing TaylorMade to beat rival Callaway as the world's No. 1 golf-club seller. That's a cyber-hole-in-one. By Heather Green