If you’ve watched major golf tournaments over the years, you’ve probably seen how quickly everything can go from on track to suddenly off the rails. One bad shot and your favorite golfer is hopelessly stuck in a sand trap, their score for the entire round of golf in jeopardy.
The life of a salesperson isn’t much different when attempting to meet their sales goals.
Think of every round of golf as a sales quarter for an Account Executive.
Quotas that we set at the beginning of a year for each quarter help to ensure that we hit the overall revenue goal. This is very similar to how golfers in a tournament are always trying to get below par and stay there by performing well on each individual hole that they play.
Breaking annual sales goals down into quarters can help to analyze how things are going in steps, similar to how golfers can analyze and improve their game round-by-round.
While the golf course may present certain challenges such as adverse weather or other course conditions, in sales the economic climate changing from quarter to quarter as well.
The best golfers — and salespeople — evaluate their approaches for the conditions ahead and adjust their strategies accordingly.
As it happens in golf, there are three P’s to mastering sales goals: pipeline management, practice, and perseverance.
Just like golfers have to navigate through blustery conditions one day and rain or heat the next, salespeople must be ready for tumultuous conditions, with each quarter presenting a different challenge.
What is pipeline management? Typically, the term “pipeline management” is a process of overseeing and directing the various stages of sales. By understanding each stage of this process, salespeople are able to be proactive about each step.
Successful salespeople strategically maneuver around obstacles that may arise throughout the course of their year. Each quarter presents unique situations and challenges.
Shot selection for a golfer is key to incremental success toward a larger goal. Similarly, pipeline management is important to salespersons.
Just as golfers analyze each shot to choose the appropriate club and approach, salespeople need to look for the best angle for each interaction and adapt to the situation.
Just like the best golfers understand the likelihood of making particular shots in certain situations, the best sales representatives adapt their approaches to give them the best shot at making the sale.
The best way to know this? Learning the sales “game”, and gaining real-world experience in the industry.
Every shot on the golf course represents a new opportunity to do something great. Likewise, every new phone call with a promising lead is a new opportunity. Whether you're trying to escape the sandtrap or calling on a new prospect, there are unique solutions to each challenge.
For golfers, practice means time on the driving range or practice green. For salespeople, the best way to practice is to spend time making calls and refine sales approaches.
Customer management can help ensure that sales representatives find the opportunities necessary to hit their revenue goals. By having enough promising prospects, great salespeople will be more likely to make birdies, rather than three-putt for that double-bogey.
Sales teams learn from their experience working with their customers, honing their craft and approach along the way.
While many tournaments are a grind for the pros, there is nothing more frustrating than losing when the trophy is in sight.
In sales, three solid quarters can all fall apart at the end of the year with the loss of just one substantial account. While it happens to everyone at some time, the most successful people in any industry are those who persevere and work harder to make it to the top.
In fact, perseverance could be the most important trait towards becoming a successful salesperson.
Failure is inevitable and can be disappointing. But much like how golfers must shake off that bad hole and play on, learning from failure helps reps to better understand what works and what doesn’t work within their own sales process.
Remembering the three essential P’s needed to meet sales goals, your company can continue to thrive as a solid, sales-driven organization.
So be sure to grab your clubs and start swinging — or grab the phone and start dialing.
Jordan Fuller is a retired golfer who loves to write about golf. He owns a publication site, www.golfinfluence.com, where he shares tips and tricks to improve the game. Aside from writing, Jordan coaches and mentors golf.