Chipping And Putting

Woman golf player concentrating for putting on green. Golf Concept

Famed instructor, caddie, golf (and life) coach Harvey Penick, tapping into his fabulous wisdom to golf and life, said “That’s the thing about golf; outside of the USGA rule book, there are no indisputable ways the game must be learned or played.”  

I gave his thought some thought recently as it applies to the game of sales.  Why do sales leaders go by the “rules”? Penick also believed that the game was best learned from the back to the front. Meaning that in and around the green was the most important part of the game and then you worked back to the tee.  He was adamant that one should learn to chip and putt one ball into the hole to learn how to score and also to learn from one’s mistakes.  To chip many balls in a row at a cup was building a false expectation of that moment on the course when one must actually chip (and hopefully not chip again) and putt until the ball was in the hole.  This is scoring!

For those who are learning the science and art of sales, this is HUGE.  For me when reading Penick’s book, I saw the cold call as the chip.  We send young, new sales professionals out to chip, chip, chip, chip, chip away at the market they’re assigned, and then when they get close, we hand that three-foot putt off to a more skilled (maybe) sales professional to finish the hole and score. (And to be fair, not all putts are three footers, I get that.)

I know now this is a mistake.  Let the newbie score!  Why not have them hit that one chip closer and closer, get it on the green and then bring it in.  Have a caddie alongside to coach them, teach them, and guide them to the strategies and tactics that make that ball disappear into that impossibly small cup? Why do organizations insist on young players just handing it off, essentially stepping off the green so someone else can knock it in, raise their hands in the air and get quarterly recognition?  What if sales leaders and experienced professionals donned the white “onesy” caddie uniform and stood behind them, notebook in hand, and showed them all the permutations of possible outcomes? 

What would taking this approach buy an organization?  Well, here’s where I’m going:  It’s not enough to hire talent, and develop talent.  That’s being done, especially when you see marginally developed, restless feet walk across the street and make putts for other teams on their greens.  This is about the next step: talent retention!  What if you showed talent what it’s like to score early and often?  Like it or not (#LION), we of the older, more experienced, well-traveled leadership have to reconcile how we walked the fairways and how it’s different now.  There’s a real opportunity when sales and frankly other leaders let the newbies pitch, putt, and score early and often.  I’m not saying put them on the Ryder Cup team right out of orientation training, just get them going on some kind of tour now.  Do you want success from them? Then trust them!  Give them a taste for the claret jug early and often!

This is an amazing opportunity to challenge your talent – as well as yourself as a leader – to stretch everyone’s game and see what we’re made of here.  Including you.  We train and coach young dev reps (SDR, BDR, and any other “XDR”) to basically clean clubs, pick up the balls left on the driving range, and chase after shots in the woods.  Tasks that can start to seem irrelevant.  One thing I am certain of after formally interviewing many many dev reps: after money, they want to be relevant.  Let them chip and putt it in for the score.  Be good caddies and coaches.  Let them play!

I challenge salespeople to become sales professionals.  I guide managers to become leaders.”  Succeed in 2022 with the wild idea of investing in your team… and wait for it…you! Here’s a link to start creating that discussion right now!


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