Business on the Golf Course
You have built a relationship with a prospect/client that you feel confident enough about, so your next step is to invite them out to play a round of golf with you. What an important step, the opportunity to connect with this individual on a level different than their office.
You now have a 4 – 6 hour window to reveal your character, and believe me it will be revealed, for better or worse! At this point, the next 4 hours can make or break your case, so you better be sure you can carry this off. This is an integral step in relationship building, which you are staking your reputation on!
First off, this is not a regular weekend game with your buddies; so don’t treat it like one. Continue to be professional. There will be plenty of opportunities in the time ahead of you to show your sense of humour and personality. This is not the day you pound beers to relax, so don’t. I don’t care if my guest imbibes, I will definitely let them lead the way on this and as long as they don’t do damage or endanger anyone’s health, then they are the ones who have to live with what happens.
This time together also reveals their character and you get to decide whether or not you want to continue to pursue this relationship any further, it’s a two-way street.
I like to play golf with new people. Life is a time-space continuum and people’s lives change all the time. There is no telling where your paths will cross again, should things not work out for you in this moment.
Now, my advice. . . just play golf! Do not lead with business. In fact, don’t do any business! This is NOT Glengarry Glen Ross! NO A – Always, B – Be, C – Closing! This is GOLF! A golf course is not the place where you become the salesperson in a clothing store and follow your prospect around the store offering up verbal diarrhea until they walk out without even picking up a tie! Put yourself in your guest’s shoes. Would you want someone always bringing the subject around to business and taking flow and enjoyment away from what should be a pleasurable time? If your guest initiates, follow their lead, but show patience as one of your character traits. If you play your cards correctly, there will be a couple of opportunities to close for the next order of business, either after the round over a meal and refreshments or as a follow up the next business day. You might even be asked about why you didn’t bring it up, which will give you the perfect opportunity to explain yourself and respond that you would like them as your customer forever and there is plenty of time to do business while you develop your relationship over time!
If the course you have chosen to play at has a dress code, know it and apprise your guest.
Don’t talk religion.
Should you have opposing views, this could create some unnecessary tension between you
Don’t talk politics.
There are very divergent political positions these days. The polarizing and passionate views of today’s rhetoric could negate all your set up work with this prospect/client.
Don’t be homophobic.
Advocate for those who get discriminated against.
Making comments that demean and marginalize have no place on the golf course
Don’t be misogynistic.
Again, advocate, this time for sexual equality.
I know many women who play a better game than most and it is plain offensive to make derogatory and inflammatory comments.
Don’t cheat. Cheating reveals so much about your character. If you cheat at golf, what else will you cut corners on?
Know the rules. One of the rules of golf is to know the rules of golf. Sounds kind of weird, but if you don’t know the rules, you are probably cheating!
Don’t bet. What happens if one of you completely routs the other? Awkward. How do you build a relationship on that?
Follow golf etiquette. I like to set up one ground rule before I tee up. I try to play “ready” golf! If my guest is “away” but not “ready”, yet I am, I will play so as to keep the pace of play moving!
That includes teeing off on subsequent holes.
Also, be cognizant if you are one of the slow groups on the course. It is your job to keep things moving, whether that is by assisting with bag positions or just keeping everyone focused on moving. If you are the one who is guilty of slow play, not too many people will accept a second invite, so get the hint.
If you “need” to have your cell phone with you, please put it on vibrate mode or simply turn it off. You should have time at the end of 9 and 18, or if you are waiting behind a slow group, to check in. Remember that your guest is the most important part of your day and if you haven’t been able to clear your schedule it will reflect on your ability to stay focused. Think about your guest. If they are on their phone, it takes away from relationship building time you are fortunate to get in the first place.
Some courses have a NO CELL PHONE policy. Be aware.
If your guest has been drinking and is inebriated, for everyone’s benefit, arrange transportation home. There are organizations who will drive vehicles home for clients. Make sure you don’t allow your guest to “drive drunk”! Be the adult and take responsibility for the situation
Have FUN! Remember CHARACTER. Showcase yours; it will be well worth the effort!