Everyone once in a while someone will strike up a conversation with me wanting to know what Business Golf is and how Business Golf is different than playing regular golf with a client or employee or vendor. During the conversation the question will be asked..
What is the most important thing to remember when playing golf with a customer or potential Customer?
Most of what should be done when playing golf with a customer, their boss, their employee or vendor is not rocket science. However, during my five years of reviewing rounds of golf played by people using golf as a business tool I have been blown with how away many times common sense is not used. Many people have not a clue on what impression they are giving their golf guest after using golf as a slow pitch sales tool.
So here are the Top 3 Important Things to Remember When Playing Business Golf..
1. Stay to the Plan
Every round of Business Golf starts with a plan. Yes, I know that is a novel idea for many of you since you think calling for a tee time is the extent of the planning part of your round of golf with a potential client, but there is much more that should be part of the plan than arranging the golf.
The purpose of making a plan is to build the image of professionalism so take the opportunity to show your guest how you do business. If you were thoughtful enough to plan out the entire day this comes across to all involved that you are a person who cares. Where you play, what time you play, knowing the condition of the golf facility as well as the golf course and having arranged in advance an after golf place to have some privacy is all part of the plan, but not the entire plan.
Why you are doing all of this is the motive for the plan and why you are playing golf with someone should be the focus. Making that intention clear from the invitation to play should be the point of what all of the planning circles around.
You guest is already expecting that there will be some business talked during the day..but when it is talked is important. So from the beginning let your gust know that you would like to talk more about business afterwards. This easies the expectations that the round is the sales pitch.
The plan for a round of Business Golf should be focused on getting to know better who you have invited to play golf while you show them who you are as a person. Make the plan and STAY TO THE PLAN…That is all..no selling, no set up for a close on a pitch, no capture audience, and NO six hour sales pitch! The plan is simple..
- Eliminate all hassles for the day,
- Set the stage for building a business relationship so a business call can be made later
2. Separate the Golf from the Business
The most shocking part of my review of over 150 rounds of golf played by someone wanting to do business with someone else was that over 85% of those rounds, 127 to be exact, where spent with the host pitching his business the entire round of golf…in some cases causing the round to be as long as 6 Hours (Ouch..yes, very bad memories).
Why did this take place? Many people, mostly the high strung “Gotta make a sale every five minutes” type, have been trained or instructed that golf is a great opportunity to put a solid, highly orchestrated, sales pitch on someone. Some of the rounds I witnessed the host even pulled out charts on the course to show his guest…geez.
Most of these people would tell me they liked to use golf because it captured their audiences attention..which in over 65% of the cases did not prove to be true since the person they were pitching angrily terminated the round after an hour or received a mystery phone call while on the third hole that required them to cut the round to only nine holes so they could get back to the office. This proved that business people are getting fed up with these guys and gals messing up an opportunity to play golf with a badgering sales pitch. They Just are not tolerating it anymore.
In order to give the round of golf a chance to develop into a business relationship the Golf has to be Golf and the Business has to be Business..they do not mix. The almost sure kill to a business golf outing is to talk business while playing golf.
To calm the feelings your guest may have that he is getting set up for sales pitch on the golf course, the statement should be made clear and direct from the beginning that the golf is golf and the business is afterwards. This sets the stage for a great day and your guest then knows what to expect. Taking steps to not talk business on the golf courses allows for other things to be talked about that sets a very positive reflection on you and your professionalism.
3. Develop Patience
In this economy having patience in business is hard to maintain. The need to make a buck immediately and watch how funds are being spent results in too many business people to make mistakes that results in being inpatient. They fall to the old school tactics of requiring an ROI from every dollar spent. That just does not work anymore in this fast pace risky world we live in now.
It is true that business people have to be careful in this fragile failed economy. However, the best strategy for a business now is to put forth every effort to hang on to the customers you have and make sure the new customers have trust in you.
Yes, patience builds trust and there is no better way to display a person’s trustworthiness than playing Golf. However, you have to be patient in order to realize any ROI from the trust being built from business golf. A business deal or sale made out of trust has 90% more value to a business than a business deal forced to be made.
So, even after you spent the time to create a plan for a round of business golf and after the round the talk on business gives you the feeling nothing is going to come out of it..think again and be patient. If you put forth your best foot to show someone you can be trusted in whatever it is you do that action will pay off..you just have to be patient.
I was hired to coach a client in how a round of business golf is played so he could use these techniques in an effort to build his new business. He was in a very competitive market and was running into competitors everyone. He needed to set himself apart and show he was different than the others. He asked if I could help and suggest things he could do to be set apart.
Naturally, I suggested that he set himself apart from the others by showing people he can be trusted. Trust in today’s market runs thin with most who are only out to make a buck first so they can show they are successful in hopes of selling their business. Trust in the business world has little ROI so nobody builds trust which is why we are in the shape we are in. He agreed that trust would separate him, so how does he demonstrate trustworthiness with playing golf?
I first took him out for my round of Business Golf and afterwards during the business talk I explained what and how trust played a part of the day.
He asked if I would be part of his first attempt at a round of golf with a potential client he had meet in a networking group. He followed all of my instructions on setting up the plan, sending out the invitation and all the things to initiate the round of business golf. The day came, and the round was played. It was one of the best rounds of business golf I had witnessed during my five years of coaching.
However, the day after the round when I had my postmortem phone call review with my client I got an ear full on how much of a waste of time and money the round of business golf was to my client. He felt he was ripped off since he did not accomplish what he set out for and that was to get a client for his business.
Naturally, he was not up to hearing any explanation or reasoning since his concern of spending over $600 for the golf outing and then paying me my fee for coaching on top of getting no ROI for the week spent meeting with me got him nowhere. He just did not feel it was worth it and felt strongly the effort was not going to work.
Well, I have heard this before and I left that phone call very disappointed in not getting the 3rd most important thing about business golf across to him…patience.
Two weeks later I receiving a hand delivered bottle of Gentleman Jack Daniels whiskey and then that afternoon a call for my client wanting to know if I would use half the bottle of JD to marinate the Crow he was going to eat for me.
He excitedly reported that he got a call from a lady that had spoken to the potential client we played Business Golf with who referred her to him for business. He took my advice and asked if she would like to play a round of golf, used all my techniques and afterwards he was told by his guest she would like to arrange for him to stop by her office the next day to discuss doing business.
This resulted in a three year contract setting his business up for the long term…and he had business golf to thank for it. He ended his call with me again apologizing to me for not being patient with the process and understanding the building of trust with someone may not result in business directly with them. The trust he built with one person comforted them in telling someone else about his business. All he needed to do was play more rounds of business golf and not worry about the immediate results which is what he has been doing since.
The secret to business golf is patience… Let me know how I can help.