While watching this year’s PGA Championship golf tournament I started thinking how the hard work and dedication of golf’s top players are strikingly similar to that of top sales professionals. Think of how much time each group spends refining their craft. How the little extra hard work and dedication differentiate the average performers from those who make it to the top of their industries.
All salespeople can find inspiration from these golfers. It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of golf or not, the learned traits they exhibit can be translated to sales and be learned by anyone who is eager to excel in their career.
1. Range time before and after rounds.
Professional golfers spend countless hours on the range determining what clubs and shots will work best for the layout of the course they are playing. Between putting, chipping, driving and iron play they hit hundreds of shots before they go out on the course. Many times after a round they will go through the same routine to figure out why a specific shot did not work that day on the course.
Getting to the top of your sales organization requires the same type of dedication. Continuing education and a focus on skills are only the start of this lesson. Pre call planning and post call reviews are the equivalent of range time before and after a round on the PGA tour. Those who do this succeed at a much higher rate than those who are order takers or just fly by the seat of their pants.
2. Club selection
On the PGA tour, the player and their caddie discuss distance, wind direction, wind speed, green speed, topography of land and when to lie up and when to go for it. After all the information is analyzed, they decide what club to use to make the shot they discussed. The average golfer tends to grip it and rip it based on a gut feel and distance.
The top professionals in sales perform a similar ritual. Needs analyses are the equivalent of a golfer’s club selection process. They ask probing questions and let the prospect answer each question thoroughly, then restate the answer to make sure they have a complete understanding of the customers’ needs. When you truly understand a prospects needs and determine how your product or service will better meet their needs based on facts, you will be the one closest to the target. This learnable skill will separate you from the competition when it counts.
3. Muscle memory
Between the range and the course, pro golfers hit hundreds of thousands of shots during their career. These continual swings build muscle memory, so the golfers don’t have to think about every step within their swing. Over time it becomes effortless.
Mastering your elevator speech, value proposition and product knowledge are the equivalent of muscle memory. You need to learn and practice these items until they flow from your mouth without any effort. Developing your sales muscle memory will have you more focused on your prospects needs instead of what to say next.
4. Unlearn bad habits and replace with new better habits
Professional golfers continually look to unlearn bad habits to increase their effectiveness on the course with the goal of winning more. They have coaches telling them if they are lifting their head, dipping their shoulder or countless other little movements. They are always looking to get better.
Sales professionals should always be learning new sales skills or the latest techniques. Openness to learning leaves you the option of what to incorporate from the continuing education. To be at the top of your game, you need to be open to new ideas and be open to input from those you work for and with.
5. Visualize the shot
Professional golfers visualize the shot they want to hit. They decide if a fade or draw will work better, hit it high or keeping the ball low, to put back spin on it or let the ball release. Though all of those types of shots have the possibility of working, they try to determine which shot will give them the best chances to hit the target.
Sales professional visualize their interactions with customers and prospects before a sales call. They do this by pre-determining what questions to ask to uncover the needs. Performing a thorough needs analysis with open ended questions will let you determine the best way to hit the target and land the sale.
6. Avoiding the hazards
One of the big differences between professional golfers and the ones who dream about a life on tour is course management. Professionals think about where they want their ball to land to be in the best position to hit the next shot. They take into account sand traps, water, deep rough or steep slopes. They know if they can avoid the hazards through an entire tournament they will be in a position to win.
The best salespeople focus on managing the sale and concentrate on value and not price. To many salespeople fall into the trap of thinking the only thing every customer cares about is price. More often then not, people are willing to spend more money on a product or service if they know what makes the product better or different and it meets their needs better. To be at the top of the sales game, focus on learning what it is a customer really needs so you can put yourself in the best position to win the sale.
Professional golfers show us that hard work and dedication can make a huge difference in our levels of success. Challenge yourself and your sales teams to raise the level of professionalism and focus on mastering the 6 lessons in this article.
Please share your thoughts on these lessons as well as any other lessons we can learn from the PGA tour.
David Domos developed WhyBuyFromYou.com to provide content to help small businesses develop their branding, marketing and sales systems. In the past he held key leadership positions for a fortune 500 company. That company led the market in both sales and brand awareness and David was a significant contributor to its growth. David has been on the Amazon.com best seller list in their Direct Marketing, Communications and Entrepreneurship categories. He is a student of sales, marketing, branding & small business growth, continually focusing on the reasons people buy. Follow him on Twitter @WhyBuyFromYou or visit www.whybuyfromyou.com.