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Aside from the common belief that business often gets done on the golf course, there are many routines and rituals that link the Royal & Ancient game to Selling…


Billy Foster knows a thing or two about golf having caddied for the likes of Seve, Tiger Woods, Darren Clarke, Sergio Garcia and more recently, Lee Westwood over a 35-year professional career.

But it was an event during the 2008 Ryder Cup, that got me thinking about the similarities between the game of golf and the profession of Sales.

Europe Captain, Sir Nick Faldo, sent Foster out early each morning to report back on pin positions – standard practice at that level. But Faldo didn’t want to know where the hole was…

He was more concerned with the exact location that Foster would place an imaginary triangular shaped ‘block of cheese’ on each green. With the tip of the wedge pointing directly at the hole, Faldo wanted the optimum position to leave the most sought-after putt in professional golf…

…dead-straight, uphill from 12ft.


The logic behind this ‘play-it-safe’ approach was that this location on the green guaranteed pars and significantly increased the chances of birdies. His strategy, although less box-office than the ‘pin-seeking’ approach shot, was one which was logical, based on fact and above all else, mitigated risk.


Your Business might be winning sales, but imagine what it could be like if you approached every opportunity like a Pro Golfer, with a strategy designed to eliminate mistakes and maximise opportunity.


Here are my 7 Sales Habits of Highly Effective Golfers:


  1. The Preparation is Meticulous – we’ve all over-prepared the night before the Monthly Medal. In the same way you cleaned your clubs, charged your trolley battery and ironed your Polo, the very best Sales Professionals ‘over-prepare’ before a meeting. They research the prospect to identify personality traits. They review their website for opportunities that warrant their solution and the very best research their target industry; analysing trends and looking for metrics.


  1. The next shot is as important as this one – as we saw in the Foster/Faldo story, input is all about the outcome. Like the best in the business, do you have a set of unique questions that are specifically designed to help your customer diagnose their problem in a methodical and logical way? True Sales Pro’s dictate the discussion to benefit the buyer’s objectives.


  1. Mutual Respect – whether its’ conceding a 2ft putt or commiserating one that’s missed; you can be sure that over the four hours, every golfer will demonstrate the under-rated art of ‘win one/lose one. Great Sales Professionals know that their role is as important as the buyers and reinforce that status by acting that way. They agree the expectations in advance and insist on the next steps before concluding each client meeting.


“The object of golf is not just to win, it’s to play like a gentleman and win” – Phil Mickelson


  1. Stick to the rules – there is no other game on the planet where the rules of the game are upheld with such consistency than in golf. Whilst ‘un-written’ by nature, the rules in Sales are set in stone, here’s a few of many; be honest; help don’t sell; do what you say you will; follow-up without being pushy and always delight the customer.


  1. There’s 14 clubs in the bag – each one is designed specifically to move the ball a specific distance. Questions (as we touched on in 2) are our clubs and whether we’re using ‘Fact-based’ ones to establish purchasing authority, budget and timing or ‘Impact’ ones to support urgency and need to take action, sales people know which to ask and when to ask them.


  1. Mindset is Everything – Bobby Jones said that “golf is played on a five-and-a-half-inch course – the space between your ears”. Emotional resilience is a learnable skill that will serve every Sales Pro well in their career. We all experience rejection but recognising that it’s not personal but a lesson we can learn from, allows us to move forward each day. If your looking for more advice on the subject of Sales Psychology, check out my post “How Happy People Sell”.


“Success in golf depends less on strength of body than upon strength of mind and character” – Arnold Palmer


  1. Enjoy the moment – even after carrying a 40kg golf bag for 72 holes each week for the last 35 years, Billy Foster has fun – he loves his job. We sometimes take for granted that we’re in the relationships business, we inspire people into taking action and we motivate our customers into improving their own results with the products and services we offer – how could anyone not have fun being paid to do that!


I leave the final words to the golfer who has won more majors (18) than anyone else in history and one which speaks for itself…


“I don’t believe in luck. Not in golf anyway. There are good bounces and bad bounces, sure, but the ball is round and so is the hole. If you find yourself in a position where you hope for luck to pull you through, you’re in serious trouble” – Jack Nicklaus



If you’ve enjoyed this blog and want more tips like these, head over to the website and check out the free resources page.

About the author: Matt Sykes is founder of Sales Training company Salescadence and author of the book Sales Glue. He works with Growing Businesses to help them logically convert more of their leads into customers.

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