When sales feels like having a stroke

Sales lessons from the game of golf

The challenges of golf and sales are very similar, but I don’t bring it up as a novelty. In coaching sales professionals, I’ve found we are so engaged in the execution of the game that we can’t see and then address the source of our problems—and there are plenty of challenges.

To loosen your thinking for a moment, take a few minutes and listen to Robin Williams interpretation of the invention of golf. I’m sure you will appreciate the relevance of the game of golf with the challenges of sales.

Since one aspect of my role is the enable sellers, I’m essentially in the Golf Pro business. As we prepare for 2019, I’d like to know how to better prepare you for your game. So, let’s look at just two aspects of your sales game.

“Golf is 80% mental, 10% ability, 10% luck”
Jack Nickalus

Consider these similarities:

  1. Golf (like a sales process) is an untimed game. When you start the game, you may think you know how long this is going to take, but there are so many forces at work that can interrupt, stall or even halt the game. These times of waiting can add tremendous pressure. Pro golf tournaments would take on an entirely different complexion if the golfer’s sponsor was constantly standing over them asking “When are you going to put this one in the hole? I can see the flag from here, what’s keeping you? You told me this was an easy hole.” Does this remind you of any recent cadence calls you’ve attended?
  2. You have to take full responsibility for your actions on the course. There is an abundance of seemingly valid reasons given for missed shots, the ultimate responsibility lies on the shoulders of the professional. While sales are often described as a team sport, you the seller know, that the outcome of any given deal can be massively impacted by your actions. And it’s for that reason, you have selected to play the game. You can individually make a difference. But it comes with great responsibility and that can weigh heavily on your mind.
  3. You spend more time thinking of playing rather than playing. Thinking about your game is healthy, but is there the possibility of overthinking? You miss hit a shot. Where your mind goes between that shot and the next one is paramount. Stand over a ball, look up and see only the obstacles and imagine the hazards and risks, and it’s likely you’ll have the opportunity to explore them. How much time do you spend thinking about what might go wrong with the prospect? You have the opening conversation pretty well covered, but what if they ask questions you can’t answer?

Having the right mindset is critical to your success.

I just did a Google search for “golf skills training videos”. There were 37.8M results. I then searched on “golf mental training videos” and found 20.8M—about half as many. I’m guessing if you were to search within your organization for enablement assets that addressed your selling skills, you’d likely find an abundance of resources. I’m also guessing if you did the same search for enablement that addressed your mindset, the list wouldn’t be as long.

As you enter into 2019, consider where you feel you need improvement. Think about your past year and your results. On the par and below par accounts, to what do you attribute your success? And on the bogey, double-bogey or even perhaps the holes where you simply picked up your ball and walked to the next tee—what could have helped you better execute?

It’s a high probability that you will be offered assistance and enablement in 2019. What that looks like and how deeply you participate will make the difference in your success in 2019.

And if there is something I can do to assist you, speak up and let me know where I can help?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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