I recently started playing golf after years of playing tennis. There were several reasons I played tennis for more than 25 years: It was a very active sport that required not more than two hours, while golf required much more time to play.



I recently started playing golf after years of playing tennis.

There were several reasons I played tennis for more than 25 years: It was a very active sport that required not more than two hours, while golf required much more time to play.

When I was around golfers, I always said that when I got old, I would take up their sport. Now that I am older, I wish I had taken up this sport years ago and had honed the many skills needed to master the game. Golf is very demanding and requires precise skills, very much like the selling profession.

Closing the sale happens during a one-on-one interview or toward the end of the presentation. But just as in golf, you cannot go out and hit wedges and putts without practice or preparation. Selling requires that you understand the prospects, their needs and their experiences with similar products. It's like managing a golf course. To play well you need to fully understand the course and the simpler ways to score.

You "drive for show and putt for dough." Most golfers have heard this phase and know its value, but a few still like to whack the ball as hard as possible - only to see it go into the woods. In selling, you see many salespeople go after the big fish, only to come home with an empty bucket. They do this instead of going after the fish they can catch.

Profiles in success

Successful salespeople develop a customer profile of those who can be helpful and profitable for your company. How do you develop a customer profile? Ask yourself: "Which customers do I now have that make me profit and my company is happy about keeping?"

Better yet, do this in a sales meeting with all the salespeople. Get a profile that will work for you and use it in selecting new prospects to call. Why waste time on prospects that are not going to fit into your customer profile?

The right customer profile is like having clubs fit for your speed and posture during the golf swing. Without the right fit, you can remain at the same level of play for years. Having the right clubs and shafts can make all the difference.

In selling and golf, how you look is important. In selling, how you dress and look is what gives prospects their impression of you. It's formed in the first few seconds of meeting. Sometimes a sale is lost during that critical first impression. Or you spent a large amount of time overcoming how you look to get to the presentation. In golf, how you look gives you self-confidence and a mental lift.

The most important part of golf is putting; in selling, it's the closing. There are also a number of similarities to this most important part of the game. Putting requires one to "read" or understand how the ball will move as it rolls toward the cup. In selling, you should understand buyers and know how to close the deal.

Golf is very much like selling - both require that you continue to practice and hone the skills to help relax and be better in each area.

Now I realize why so many salespeople play golf.