Fore! Golf for Sales Success

By Lain Ehmann

The idea of the Big Deal taking place on the golf course is such a cultural icon; it’s almost a joke. But stereotypes become so for a reason; getting a hot prospect out of the office and to a meeting on the green is a great way to further your relationship. In fact, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide conducted a survey on the link (no pun intended) between golf and business in 2002. The results: 97 percent of the 400-plus respondents said that golfing with a business associate is a good way to establish a close relationship, and almost half said that some of their biggest business deals were made on the golf course.

Recognizing the importance of golfing in a salesperson’s life, Tod Wilcock, founder of the McMurray, Pennsylvania-based Elemental Concepts, Inc., has created “Go Fore the Green: Lessons in Business Golf,” a DVD and reference guide. The DVD outlines a step-by-step approach for maximizing sales on the golf course. Here are some highlights from the 80-minute DVD:

  • Assemble the right players. Don’t just grab your best golfing friends and head out. “Each person has a specific role to play in the foursome to help further your success,” says Wilcock. In addition to yourself, your foursome will include your prospect, someone who has a “vested interest in helping you facilitate your sales pitch,” and, finally, “someone who can provide an unbiased credible endorsement of your capabilities and character,” he suggests.
  • Take charge. “As the organizer, it is up to you to take control and establish yourself as the leader, in charge of all aspects of your round of business golf,” Wilcock says. Don’t let someone else set the tone; take charge and make sure things are flowing as you intended.
  • Mind your manners. Almost two-thirds of Starwood’s survey respondents said that they believe the way a person plays golf is very similar to the way he or she conducts their business affairs. Pay attention to dress code, tee time policies, cart rules, and agree on issues like “mulligans” and “gimmes” beforehand. Wilcock also suggests carrying a rulebook with you in case of questions.
  • Pay attention to your prospect’s behavior. Yes, you’ll be on display, but a round of golf also gives you a chance to determine if you want to do business with your prospect. Two-thirds of respondents to the business golf survey said that a person who cheats at golf would probably cheat in business. Watch how your potential customer acts on the course; they’ll likely act the same way in the boardroom.

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