Your Belief, Your Skills or Just “Stuff”?

March 2018 was an amazingly diverse month. Warm days, then snow, then hail, then warm sunny days again…and that is just on the west side of the Cascades! As golf professionals, we are alike in some ways and we are different in many other ways.

One of the similarities most PGA professionals have is an aversion to the idea of selling. If you’re like me, when you hear salesperson/salesman, you may picture someone “hawking something” in a sort of way that you find unprofessional or unappealing. But, here’s the reality. We are all salespeople, starting with ourselves and our ability to lead people, create followers and connect with the people we are privileged to influence. With this in mind, I’ve got some questions for you:

ARE YOU AVERSE TO SALESMANSHIP?

Having a “dim view” of being a professional salesperson may be our perspective and it could be a non-issue. It would seem to be a fine line though, between being “sales averse” and being “sales aware.” If we get any kind of a salary, retainer or stipend for being a PGA professional, it would seem we have one job… to create, attract, activate and drive business transactions at the facility/club where we have employment. Frankly, if we are a teaching professional, working as an independent contractor, the expectation is still the same and completely reasonable. The employer/owner of the facility, where we sell our teaching ability/skills, is giving us the opportunity to earn income with the expectation that we will drive business transactions to their facility.

In this context, it would seem we don’t have a choice to be salespeople or not. Our choices are based on our perspective, our understanding of our role in the golf business and what we can deliver to the facility where we earn our living.

Are you willing to consider a new perspective on sales in the golf business? If you are, I believe you may be able to create more value for the employer/owner who controls your ability to earn more compensation, controls your salary potential, etc. This mindset reset, tweak or similar could be a difference maker for you in 2018 and beyond. I have seen it work in many of our fellow PNWPGA professionals already.

ARE YOU SELLING LESSONS OR LOWER SCORES?

Let’s start with selling or offering what the consumer wants, and/or inspires them. Most of us sell “lessons” and “lesson packages” and we wonder why golfers don’t choose to take lessons (I know I’ve wondered this). The truth is, most golfers don’t get the reason to take a lesson or sign up for a series of lessons. Why not? Because the lesson is “the what” and “the how” in this situation, it’s certainly not “the why.”

According to Simon Sinek, the why is the reason for making a purchasing decision as it’s based on inspiration; while the whats and the hows are typically based solely in the price of the purchase. (In other words, when it’s about the why, loyalty can be an outcome and price is now not a top concern in the decision for the concern.) What is the why then?

  • Based on a survey of 7200 golfers: The three most important reasons why golfers (of all ability levels and experiences) play golf are:
    • Hit more good shots, fewer bad shots
    • Have fun with friends
    • Shoot lower scores, maybe lowest ever
  • Based on this information, let’s ask another question: Do the customers/members at your facility know that you are a teacher capable AND WILLING to help them play hit more good shots and play better? We all tend to assume they know this…but, I know they don’t know it. Instead, a vast majority of golfers view golf professionals as players, as operators, as event managers…not game improvement experts who are willing to work with “average/recreational players” (like them).

The takeaway: Sell the Results (based on the why) for the given golfer/customer in front of you…and sell it based on what you believe and how you can help that golfer “get more out of their golf through more good shots, fewer bad shots.”

 ARE YOU SELLING DRIVERS, OR MORE YARDS AND MORE FAIRWAYS?

Continuing on the same line of thinking as above.

  • With the new Taylormade M3 and M4 drivers, one key point I’ve noticed is that the white top at address is now grey. Could it be the top being white, or now a silver color is simply cosmetic? When the white crown appeared, it certainly was different and it looked cool. Maybe that new look sold a few drivers for all of us too. (But, if that was the reason for their success, I highly doubt they’d be changing from white to silver.)
  • I realize when we see a golfer buy a driver, a wedge, a putter or even a new set of irons, “the look” is important. But that look is part of the final moments of the purchase decision. Based on the top 3 reasons golfers play (above), the purchase is primarily about the perceived “difference between the status quo of their current equipment and the potential of the new equipment.” In other words, golfers most often:
    • Buy a driver because they believe they will hit it farther and hit more fairways
    • Buy a putter because they believe they will make more putts and/or have fewer three putts
    • Buy a wedge because they believe they will hit better short game shots, resulting in shorter putts and lower scores
    • Buy a set of irons because they believe they will hit them farther, hit more greens in regulation and lower their scores
  • When the purchase is about the result, the price concerns get pushed away and down the list of importance.

The takeaway (notice the repeat here): Sell the Results (based on the why) for the given golfer/customer in front of you…and sell it based on what you believe and how you can help that golfer “get more out of their golf through more good shots, fewer bad shots.” The secret sauce here is that the golf professional (that’s you) can deliver “win-win” value to the golfer and the facility where they create a business transaction. What an opportunity!

 ARE YOU SELLING TEE TIMES OR GOLF EXPERIENCES?

  • When we sell tee times, we are strictly selling a perishable time to play our facility. We may try to sell the quality of our course, the good conditioning of the course, the speed of the greens or the pace of play. All of these “whats” seem like legitimate reasons for a golfer to choose to play our facility, join our club, etc. In reality, they are reasons golfers use all of the time. However, these reasons don’t take advantage of the #2 reason golfers play the game, (see above: to have fun with friends, and/or make new ones) so they don’t give us a chance to generate inspiration and loyalty.
  • No doubt, having fun with friends is certainly enhanced when the greens are good, the course conditions are good, etc. But each of us have had memorable, fun golf experiences playing aerified greens in a driving rain or similar. When our spouse or a non-golfer friend learned about how we spent our day, they likely thought “you’re crazy” but not us. Our demand decision, where the fun with friends, the opportunity to hit some good (maybe great) shots in the inclement weather made perfect sense to us. It was an experience, not just a tee time.

In closing, I would strongly suggest we become more self-aware of how we approach our “selling opportunities” in 2018. This includes ALL FACETS of our operations, our approach to engaging with customers for:

  • ACTIVATING more rounds and more spend from our core customers and members by understanding “demand decision” and building results, experiences and based on “what they want out of their golf experience”
  • RETAINING their business by carefully, intentionally seeking to better understand their personal “demand decision”
  • RECRUITING more customers/members by being excellent at activating and recruiting, so our core players help us grow our business through “net promoter activities” because they feel we understand and we value them and our why is to help them get “what they want out of their golf experience”

As your Career Consultant, and your business coach, I see my role as helping you “drive max value for the consumer” and helping you “sell what you believe” as the key in bringing you greater job satisfaction, greater career stability and increased income. I look forward to the chance to learn more about you, your facility and your career vision.

Monte Koch, PGA Certified Professional/Player Development | Career Consultant
PGA Career Services | PGA of America
Serving PGA professionals, employers in the Pacific NW & Rocky Mountain PGA Sections
Email: Mkoch@pgahq.com Cell: 206/335-5260