What Do Sales and Golf Have in Common?

By Doug Ferreira on Nov 10, 2014

3 Minute Estimated Read Time

With the unquestionable, resounding, embarrassing butt-whooping that the European’s recently gave the United States in the Ryder Cup, the PGA Tour officially came to an end for 2014. There were some great stories and performances that came out of the Ryder Cup. Justin Rose killed it, bringing in 4 points alone for the Europeans, tops in the tournament. But how about the rookie, Patrick Reed, bringing in 3.5 points for the U.S. team? As a matter of fact, rookies brought in 8.5 of the U.S. team’s 11.5 points! Certainly the future of U.S. golf looks bright, and we will need it to be if we ever want to hoist that Ryder Cup again.

But what does golf have to do with selling? Well, this is the time of year when I get to update one of my favorite sets of numbers, and if you are a professional seller, this is absolutely worth your time.

There are numerous ways that professional golfers measure themselves besides their height; we have driving distance and fairway accuracy – heck, there are over 50 different statistics on putting alone! If you don’t believe me, check out www.pgatour.com/stats, which is where I got all of my numbers. Two of the measures that interest me most, and that I think will interest you, as well, are earnings and scoring average.

So, check this out! Rory McIlroy, not surprisingly for anyone who even passively follows golf, happened to be not only #1 on the 2014 PGA Tour money earnings list with $8.2 million, but he also happens to be #1 in scoring average on the PGA Tour in 2014, scoring a seemingly inhuman 68.836. Now, he did this playing in 17 tournaments during the season.

There is where it gets interesting! Number 239 on the 2014 money earnings list was a fine gentleman by the name of Alex Aragon. Mr. Aragon is certainly no slouch of a golfer; after all, he played for – and graduated from – Tiger Woods’ Alma Mater, Stanford. Mr. Aragon made just under $22k playing in 18 tournaments, one MORE than Rory McIlroy.

Now, what do you think Alex Aragon, number 239 on the earnings list this year, averaged per round of golf? Remember, #1 Rory averaged 68.836. Are you thinking maybe 75? Nope! How about 74? Not even! Oh, so it must be higher, you say? No, lower! How about 72.385!

I have a degree in English, and the last math class I ever took was in high school. My son passed my tutoring capabilities in 7th grade, so I called and asked him to calculate the percentages for me. The results are so amazing.

Rory’s performance was about 5% better than Alex’ performance (68.836 vs. 72.385), while Rory’s RESULTS, in this case measured by money in his pocket, were thirty-seven THOUSAND times higher than those of Alex. It was 37,273 times higher to be exact. Incredible! A 5% improvement in performance can have a 37,000% impact on results. That is leverage, is it not?

So, how does this apply to our world of sales? Well, if you are a professional sales person, you are at the top of your “game.” There are amateurs (one sold me Boy Scout popcorn the other day, and he was not all that bad), there are part-timers, and there are those who are just not really all that great at it (which would describe my golf game, by the way). But if you are a SALES PROFESSIONAL, you are no different that Rory McIlroy and Alex Aragon, who are also professionals in their game. And just like in their world, in our world of selling, the difference between winning and losing is very small. And our world might even be tougher, since we don’t make any money for second place!

As a sales professional, what are you doing today to move the needle on your performance? You don’t need to move it a lot – a small improvement in performance can have a massive impact on your results. All you need is 5%!

So, the next time you are in training, or reading a book, or talking to your manager, look for those 2 or 3 “little” things that can make a huge difference in your W2. Practice your presentation one more time, spend 10 more minutes preparing questions, think a little bit more about how you can bring insights to your customer. Do this on a consistent basis andjust watch your earnings go up.

Doug Ferreira

Written by Doug Ferreira

Doug Ferreira is passionate about the human side of sales effectiveness. As a coach, consultant and facilitator, Doug has designed and implemented numerous Sales Training & Enablement programs and was selected as a finalist for the 2010 Stevie Award for National Sales Training Manager of the Year. Doug has spoken at industry conferences hosted by ASTD, The Conference Board, and Miller Heiman, and the Corporate Executive Board has featured his work in seminars.

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