Sales is Like Golf

close up photo of golf ball

Making the Hard Stuff Easy

Have you ever heard the analogy that sales is like golf? There are many similarities: you must practice, you should adjust as you go, and an experienced caddie or coach is essential to guide you to success no matter the situation. Golf is a competitive game in that you play and compete with other golfers, but the biggest competition is with yourself. How do you achieve your best score? How do you achieve consistent results? How do you pace yourself effectively? Sales is the same. You win against other sales professionals when you get a sale, but you are competing against yourself year over year throughout your career.

If you think about sales like golf, you can see it from a different perspective. What are two of the most difficult elements of sales? Prospecting and objections. How can we compare these two hurdles to golf? Prospecting is like practice; objections are your adjustments. Whether your sport is golf or something else, use it as an analogy to help you gain clarity in your role as a sales professional and elevating yourself to a higher level in achieving your set goals.

Prospecting is Practice

Like all sports, you can never become good without practice. I’ve found that when I get on the course without much practice, I’m quite rusty in the first few strokes and it takes a while for me to regain my rhythm. The best of the best in golf, such as Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, and Jason Day, all have one thing in common. They practice every day. They hone their craft because they understand that natural talent alone will not win championships; it must be nurtured. The same is true with sales. So, what if you have the natural gift of gab or know how to build relationships with people. Without regular practice to constantly get better at what you do, you’ll never be more than average. If Tiger Woods still has to practice before getting on the golf course, you certainly need to practice before picking up the phone or going into a sales meeting. Never take for granted the value of practicing one more time before the big game.

Prospecting is your sales (golf) practice because you should never let yourself off the hook. Be accountable and set realistic goals for yourself. You always want to hit the ground (green) prepared. Study your business (swing) which includes your client and take proactive steps to move the needle forward (driving range). Too often sales professionals work in a reactive nature. You instantly stand out the minute you choose to be proactive.

Objections Equal Adjustments

A good golf professional knows when to adjust their game. If something is not working, they need to course correct. It is much easier to discover the areas where you need to adjust in practice rather than in a live game, which is why practice is so vital. Here’s a fun fact: when a rocket flies to the moon, it must course correct every couple of seconds to reach its destination. If a rocket flying to the moon has to course correct, why wouldn’t you?

Objections cause you to adjust your approach as you proceed through the sales process (golf game). Expect your prospect to object. It is a natural part of the sales process and as a professional, you should be prepared to address any of their concerns (sand traps) by being armed with their goals and intentions and using that as ammunition to dispel their concerns. Address the objections, even if your prospect doesn’t. It’s not opening a can of worms. Instead, you are getting into your prospect’s head again to address their concerns and set them at ease about making a choice to work with you. Finally, empathize with and understand their concerns. Don’t get overworked or offended by anything they say. Use it as an opportunity to educate your prospect and reiterate their needs so that you can serve them in the best possible way. In short, objections (obstacles) are simply challenges that you can handle if you keep your cool and adjust your approach. Recognize when something is not working or if it is not yielding your anticipated results and be prepared to make changes, as needed.

Listen to Your Caddy or Coach

In golf, your caddy is your guide. From the outside looking in, many think a caddy’s role is simply to carry the golfer’s clubs, but it is so much more than that. Experienced caddies know the terrain of the golf course and can anticipate the challenges the golfer my face during their game. The caddy works as a coach to the golfer to keep them on course. The best golfers listen to their caddies. As a sales professional, your caddy may be your mentor or sales manager. They are tasked with keeping you on course. They have more experience than you and know the terrain you are navigating. Listen to your coach to avoid pitfalls and move toward your goals.

Finally, remember that golfers don’t employ caddies that they don’t desire to work with. Caddies, or coaches, add value and help improve your game. You can also be the caddy for your prospects and customers by adding value to their experiences. Find the people who want to work with you and form the type of relationship that a caddie develops with a golfer, one based on trust, knowledge, and experience.

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