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Golf's Lessons for Sales

by Cindy Littlefield on Fri, Aug 07, 2009

Selling in this economic climate is a job requiring fortitude.  That's why I was so excited recently by the little gift I received in the Selling Power video: The Hero Within.

During this conversation, CSO Insights's Barry Trailer discusses the need to change our orientation in Sales and realize that a Sales Rep is not just their number. Barry points to Tiger Woods as a positive example. He discusses how during his road to recovery, Tiger effectively "focused on what he was doing well" and didn't equate bad performance too closely with himself.

I play golf so the topic really hit home for me.  As Sales professionals we do measure ourselves by results. 

  • How close is my team to making the number?
  • How will I look to my VP, the CEO, the Board?
  • How do results make me feel?

Good numbers mean I am a good Sales Leader. Bad numbers mean I am not so good. Self worth is so tied to the numbers!

I took a series of golf lessons this season and my game really improved.  It improved because I learned not only what I was doing wrong and ways to correct it, but also, I learned how to look at what I was doing right and focus on that.  I learned a routine that I can repeat and practice over and over again. 

For all of the golfers out there, you know what I am talking about and it is the good shots, the surprise shots, the great putt you just sank that keeps you coming back to the game.

Continuing the golf analogy, here are some bits of advice to share with your Reps:

  • Hit the practice range
    Highly successful Sales Reps build pipeline every day. How do they do that? They spend at least one hour a day reaching out to brand new prospects. These are their power hours, no emails, no chatting, no twitter or facebook, just outbound prospecting.

  • Drive it down the fairway
    When a Rep schedules a meeting with a target account, that's their great drive down the fairway. Help them understand that you don't always have a great drive. They must accept this and try again on the next hole.

  • The short game
    Effectively moving the sales process forward, much like the short game, is the most difficult part in my opinion. Reps have so much to strategize about. Reading a lie badly or choosing the wrong club can severely hurt the score (or sales opportunity).

    Also, different Reps have different comfort zones. I'm a great long hitter, but up close to the pin, not so confident. Similarly, some are excellent at presentation while weak on the close. Have your Reps identify their weaknesses and work with them on those skills. 

  • Putting
    Everything is going great but at the last second the ball goes left and not in the hole. Does that make me a loser? No, does that mean I am a bad sales person? No. Sometimes the decision making process just goes awry and circumstances are out of your control. Know your job, do it well and let the missed opportunities go.
     

My point is this: Golf is a game. It is a practice. Just the same for Sales, it is a game where we know the rules but sometimes our ball goes left and we don't get the sale.

Jack Nicklaus once said "focus on remedies, not faults". That is exactly what we must encourage our Reps to do. 

At the end of the day, they need to focus on what went right that day, and how they can improve their "drive", "short game" and "putting" going forward.  And since I've quoted Jack, here is another by him: "Resolve never to quit, never to give up, no matter what the situation".

Now go out there and help your Sales team close some business.

(Photo Credit: SvendO)

Topics: inside sales management, inside sales motivation

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