How to Swing Your Way to Business Success
By Michael Andrew Smith
"No matter how much - or little - experience you have playing golf, by reading this book you can learn important lesson that will increase your chances of business success."
Judith Hoffman,President, JCH Enterprises
"This is an informative, resourceful and pleasurable way to help you with business…success on the golf course.
Robert Minicozzi, Metropolitan PGA golf professional
Dear Business Golfer,
My name is Michael Andrew Smith. I have been playing golf for over thirty five years for fun, competitive and business purposes.
The game has been good to me – meeting a lot people, learning golf skills (many people ask, “What is your handicap?” – it’s in the single digits) and it has helped me develop lasting relationships both personally and professionally.
As a result of my on-the-green experiences, I decided to write an easy-to-read, easy-to-carry self-help guide, like none other in the marketplace, called:
"Business-to-Business Golf: How to Swing Your Way to Business"
Since 2001, it’s been consistently ranked in the top ten, and many times #1, in Amazon.com’s business golf category plus the book has been featured in many various publications.
Why did I write the book?
To help you succeed with business-to-business golf – to develop new or enhance existing business relationships, regardless of your occupation or industry - whether you are an entrepreneur, corporate executive, salesperson, etc., a golf beginner or an accomplished player.
Business-to-Business Golf: How to Swing Your Way to Business Success is different – you play and keep your own score of your business golf round - right in the book. During the round, you will learn the key principles to successful business golfing. It is an interactive experience because you are keeping your own
While Playing a Full Round of Business Golf.
18 Real Situations.
18 Real Business Principles.
The idea of mixing business and golf has been around for over one hundred years!
In the United States alone, there are over 26 million golfers. 26,000,000!
The professional Tours are filled with business golf examples. In 2007, the men’s Professional Golf Association (PGA) and the Ladies Professional Golf Association account for over 80 tournaments with a total combined purse or prize money of approximately one-third of a billion dollars.
A significant part of the money raised for a typical multi-million dollar Tour event generally comes from the business world. Many companies desire to sponsor events like these for two main reasons – first, to donate proceeds to non-for-profit organizations and, secondly - what do you think?
Why is golf such an important ingredient for business?
Why? Why? Why?
The answer is – business encourages golf as a natural side for networking and to develop relationships in the following way:
Golf is a sport where people of many age groups and backgrounds play. The fastest growing group in golf, according to the National Golf Foundation, is women. It is not the alleged “golf ol’ boys” sport any more!
- Prospective customers
- Recruiting key employees
- Developing businesses partners, vendors, suppliers and the like
Those who play business golf or those thinking about it foresee a problem or two. Care to guess? Stress and pressure.
The truth is – many people do not know what to say or do when they get involved with business golf especially with good clients. They may ask themselves:
To address these questions, we need to understand how business golf came to be.
- Who brings up the subject of business and when?
- How do you start building a lasting business relationship through a round of golf?
- What’s the best way of finding out information about your invited guest and their business?
The year was 1888, when golf was becoming more than just a curiosity in the United States. The place was New York’s Hudson Valley area in Westchester County, just north of New York City. The area’s proximity to New York City was bringing business activities into Westchester and
Golf was generating a buzz -
Golf courses were emerging – starting out as 3, 5 and 9 hole layouts which, in many cases, grew into the standard of 18 holes of today. Some entrepreneurs were already conducting business over lunch in their offices or at neighborhood restaurants with their customers or prospective clients. Others decided to venture out onto one of these golf courses - discussing business – and it quickly became a natural side, a good atmosphere to talk.
In short time, an interesting discovery was made. In the two to three hours it took to play the 3, 5 or 9 holes, in peaceful surroundings, it became an excellent opportunity to know your client or prospect – to learn about their world, their industry, their issues!
The best part – there was no sense of urgency to sell.
Back then, as it is now, golf requires concentration and is a very real challenge for the individual to hit the ball reasonably well and to keep it as straight as possible. At times, one needs to take a brake and, invariably, while waiting in between shots or playing the holes, the topic of business may enter into the mix – the client asking a question about what kind of work someone does or the business person asking a similar type of question to the guest!
It was that quick, that simple!
The client, too, was generally pleased to be there – to take the time out from their work environment. This novel idea of mixing business and golf helped solidify relationships.
The word spread.
And so it was. That very first golf layout in Westchester County, New York, is the St. Andrew’s Golf Club in Yonkers, New York and is known today as the oldest continuous golf club in the United States. It has, indeed, been the venue of many business meetings!
Since these early days, nearly 120 years ago, golf courses have expanded; businesses have grown and a lot of business has been conducted before, during or after a round of golf.
What are some of the key points in order for you to properly mix business and golf?
There are many more tips, rules and etiquette that apply. Keep in mind that the focus is not on you but on your customer; be a good listener; and develop an understanding attitude. Additionally, keep informed about the latest women and men professional tour events, news about your business and your clients’, peppered in with a little bit of golf history, and enjoy reading
- Set the Stage. Who would you invite to play a round of golf with? Why do you want to invite the guest? Resist the temptation in getting caught up in the sales cycle of forcing a sale. Realize that you have several hours of time to engage in a meaningful conversation. Sell by not selling. Yes, do your homework ahead of time and review your client file and know your stuff. But just don’t talk about it so fast unless you are asked. Instead, enjoy the golf, focus your attention on the client and give them the special attention they deserve. This helps to create a good atmosphere and encourages your invitee to discuss business.
- Bonding. Build a bond with your guest by asking probing questions and encouraging conversation. The four to six hours, to play eighteen holes, whether a private round or in an event, is a very good opportunity to get to know your customer. Show you are genuinely interested in their situation rather than pushing for an obvious sale.
- Know a short speech about your business. When you are asked about your business avoid a long and winding speech. You may not have a lot of time while waiting in-between golf shots, so, shorten your speech. Can you describe your role, your company mission in thirty seconds or less? Try it now. The point is to keep things simple, clear, concise and to the point. It is like playing golf – do not waste a lot of time on what club to hit for a shot or lining up your putt. Golf rules encourage not taking a lot time to play each shot. The same principal applies here – not to waste time or go on and on about your work needlessly.
- A Little Less Practice. Golf, like business, can be hard and difficult. It’s not necessary to hit hundreds of practice balls just prior to your business golf date. It does not matter if it is your top customer, CEO or like. Do the opposite. Loosen up by hitting only a few warm up shots at the practice area so you can spend the quality time with your guests. Your practice should have been completed days or weeks before. If you feel your game needs work, obtain a lesson from your local golf professional. This will give you time to re-enforce and practice what you have learned – a preferred option than experimenting on the course – especially with a customer.
- Integrity, Competency and Trust. Client will do business with professionals she or he can trust, who are competent and are trustworthy. This applies for golf. Never cheat or mislead. For example, if you inadvertently moved a golf ball, take the penalty and tell your guest. This can speak volumes about you. Remember, golf is, first and foremost, a game of integrity, and does bring out a person’s character. Be yourself.