When I was younger, I dreamed of being Douglas Adams, writer of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He is one of the most innovative and entertaining storytellers I’ve ever read and I relished his sense of humor. One of my all-time favorite Adams lines was from his 1992 book Mostly Harmless. It was the fifth book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide series and the tag line on the cover of the first edition said, “The fifth book in the increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhikers Trilogy.”
The Hitchhiker’s Guide series grew well beyond its originally intended length, and while I could never hope to be in the same universe as Douglas Adams, I do have one small thing I can relate to in his world. My “3 Ways Building Business Relationships Can Be Like Playing Golf” article was intended to just be a single blog article, but interest and comments have helped it continue to expand well beyond that first post. The original “3 Ways” led to a second “3 More Ways…” article, and now it’s time for a third list of ways business relationships are like playing golf. This time, we’re looking at the emotional part of the game.
1. Resiliency required
Golf courses, in general, are masterpieces of green serenity. Manicured greens, welcoming fairways, and formal tee boxes all provide gentle, beautiful places to play the game. Unfortunately, most golfers don’t play in those well-trimmed areas. A lot of golf is played in areas on the course that are not welcoming at all: long grass in the rough, sand traps and water hazards. In fact, even the best of the best, the pros of the PGA, only hit about 60 to 70 percent of their tee shots into the fairway. This means that almost a third of the time, the best golfers in the world are trying to recover from a bad tee shot. And you can imagine how much worse the percentages are for regular, everyday golfers.
This means that a big part of playing golf is dealing with problems and setbacks. You can’t compete and win in golf if you can’t recover when shots don’t go as planned. This is an area where golf and business relationships are very similar.
It would be wonderful if we could all present our products and services to prospects and have everything go just as we expected: The prospect would be interested, and we’d be on our way to a sale to a happy new customer. Unfortunately, just like those golf tee shots that don’t always end up in the well-groomed fairway, things don’t always go as planned in business relationships.
People get fired. They are out sick. Initiatives get put on hold. The number of things that can (and do) go wrong as we work through business relationships is almost infinite. But just as in golf, the key to ultimately succeeding is accepting that those things will happen and being ready to deal with them when they do.
2. Relaxing under pressure
Golf is one of those paradoxical activities where you must be relaxed and loose to compete successfully. No matter how intense the situation or important the stakes, you must be able to maintain a calm, steady demeanor to hit a consistent shot.
Business relationships can require a similar approach. You might really need to close a deal, but if you push too hard you can ruin your chances at success. Often, the more you can relax and not try to move things ahead too quickly, the faster they will actually move.
3. The true you
The English humorist P.G. Wodehouse once said, “To find a man’s true character, golf with him.” This is a sentiment that has been echoed by many others. Golf, with all its randomness and adversity, tends to bring out the true nature of a person.
Business relationships that take time to develop and nurture do the same thing. Disingenuous sales reps, if they don’t really care about a prospect and just want a quick buck, can fake being sincere and caring for only a short time. Eventually, their true nature comes out and they revert to trying to coerce a sale.
If you or your team needs help developing a consistent, successful process for developing and nurturing relationships, our team at Civilis Consulting would be happy to help you. And if you have ideas for more “Ways Business Relationships Can Be Like Playing Golf” articles, let me know! We might be able to get all the way to the fifth article in our increasingly inaccurately named trilogy!