Want to be a ‘pro’ in sales? Hit the range

David Alan
Hal Becker

Hal Becker, Contributing Writer
I had a very cool thing happen to me after almost 46 years of playing golf: I finally got a hole in one.
That really has nothing to do with this article, but it is a good way to make a transition into my reason for the message I am about to deliver.
While I was playing golf at the resort where I scored my “ace,” I spent time with the pro, the head professional who basically is in charge of everything that has to do with golf at the resort’s many locations. That would encompass everything from lessons, retail shops, special events and overall supervision of the courses.
Before joining this organization, he was a touring professional who was on the road for many years playing golf with the famous golfers you see on TV. Very few get to be among the top 100 golfers, and it is a demanding life that has you always on the road living out of hotels and just trying to make ends meet. Without the proper sponsorships and winning a number of tournaments, it can be a struggle just to survive.
I had the opportunity to really ask him some personal questions about the reality of trying to get to be one of the best and what it takes to truly be a “professional.”
I don’t know about any of you, but I am not at that level. I do not play golf below par, nor do I drive the ball more than 275 yards off of the tee. I am sure that I cannot consistently make 7-foot putts and cannot hit out of the sand perfectly every time. I am also quite sure that I do not practice at least two to five hours a day on my golf swing and other aspects of the game.
That is what true professional gofers do, and it is their life. To become the best in that arena takes diligence, great skill and a desire to want to be the best through nonstop practice and constantly wanting to improve their game.
Would you say that sales professionals have that same desire to succeed?
I have worked with more than 700,000 salespeople in my career, and most will say that they are “professional salespeople.” Yet they rarely go to a course or seminar on sales, never have read a book on the subject, virtually never practice and just wing it when they are in front of customers. I find this amazing, but yet the salesperson says, “Hey, I have been doing it this way for years, and it has worked out pretty good.”
That is why salespeople are portrayed so poorly in movies, TV shows or any type of media. Most salespeople are average. They think that they’re great, but in reality, their selling skills, well, simply suck!
Just picture me, an average golfer at best, buying the finest golf clubs money can buy, a fabulous golf bag to put them in and some rather loud clothing to wear and then saying “I am ready to go out on tour and play with the other pros.”
What do you think will happen?
Now, let me take a year off, practice nonstop, really work on the science of the game with a qualified instructor and do whatever is possible to improve my swing and other aspects of the game. This time, I might have a shot at an amateur open or maybe even a senior event.
I will not be a top touring pro until I pay my dues for a long period of time.
OK, all you salespeople who say that you are “sales professionals.” It’s time for a dose of reality and a really long look in the mirror to ask yourself one question: Are you really at the same level as any other professional, whether it is a golfer, football player, race-car driver or any other type of professional athlete?
I doubt it.
So why should people (or yourself) call you a professional salesperson? Bottom line: If you want to be treated like a pro, you have to act like a pro. Do it now. Get immersed in your profession. Go to seminars. Read a book on sales. Get a coach or sales trainer to help you. Do what it takes to be at the top of your game.
I have to go to the golf range now and hit a few balls.
Hal Becker | halbecker.com. Becker is an author and trainer in sales and customer service.