October 11, 2017

What the Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta National Taught Me...

Marc Nolan

Marc Nolan
CEO Technology Software Sales and Consulting Services/VAS International Inc.

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Living down here in the South has afforded me to attend many of The Masters tournaments, and in 1995, I went with some friends to see The Masters upfront and close. On the drive home after seeing Ben Crenshaw win by one stroke over Davis Love III, I remarked to one of my friends how awesome it was to have seen four days of not just exciting golf, but the “sales” lessons learned from each player we followed along with their caddies. Arriving home I remembered a few key “takeaways”, which I also used in Sales Management Presentation the following week.

My first takeaway was that this was a collection of the some of the greatest golfers’ in the world and only one would be Champion! From a sales point, I thought about those of us in sales who chase The President’s Award of the company we work for, or the honor of receiving accolades from management after becoming the number one salesperson in the country. 

 The hours of prospecting, qualifying to sales demos, contract negotiations’ having the right people on the team and closing the deal reminded me a lot of how we as salespeople are similar to golfers. For instance, not having the right person in the sales demo to present the solution to our prospects was similar to not having the right caddie at Augusta National to assist a golfer with his club selection or how to read a difficult putt.

The second takeaway was there was a 19-year-old “kid” named Tiger Woods, who as an amateur was competing for the first time against men we had watched for many years, and adapted to the growing crowds and the intense way he negotiated the course. Names such as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Nick Price while being former Masters winners (Palmer having won four times and Gary Player three) that a young focused college freshman could not only compete but play well.

My third takeaway and probably the most important from a Sales Leadership/Coaching aspect was what struck me as I watched some of the greatest golfers in the world warming up on the practice range from atop the stands. As each practice shot was hit, every one of these golfers had a “coach” standing next to them watching and making small adjustments. I thought to myself, “here are some of the greatest golfers in the world and yet, each one of them had a private coach?” Why would they need that? 

Well, just as in sales we have all listen to sales tapes, read books, attend seminars how many of us have truly used a “sales coach” for our own “Masters” tournament we play day in and day out on the course we “play on” called Sales? 

My last takeaway was how these golfers had to stay focused on EACH hole! Pacing back and forth measuring distance; checking for every little thing that could possibly cause them to miss their shot or to make an unbelievable par when all seemed lost. But at ALL times they had their trusted notebook with notes and their prior instincts on how to adapt, without being shaken.

As sales professionals, if we don’t have enough deals in the sales pipeline that we can close, then EVERY deal is critical. If we lose that easy “slam dunk” deal we have as a quarter commit (easy par three which we triple bogy) then we start to push more. Or we if cannot “adapt” to a new buyer who enters a deal at the last moment, we endanger ourselves “missing the cut” and the next year might not be “invited” back to play!

Finally, after watching Sergio win the 2017 Master’s yesterday, (winning his first Major tournament after 73 tries), as Gordon Gekko stated in the movie "Wall Street", Sergio is the “new kid” who should have his picture in the dictionary under the word “persistence”.






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