Last week was our annual Deal Makers Golf Tournament at Thanksgiving Point Golf Course. There’s nothing like a day on the links to take your mind off work and meet other likeminded people. By all accounts, it was a great success. Chris Baird, Executive Vice President of OptConnect thinks so, too: “One of the guys on my team said ‘MWCN sure knows how to put on a tournament!’ and he’s right!” Baird said. “We’re interested in sponsoring again next year.” So are we, Chris. (Fair warning to all: Sponsorship spots go fast!)
The event got us to thinking: What is it about golf that makes it the perfect setting for meeting with potential clients?
It’s intimate and non-threatening. Coffee shops and restaurants can get loud. When you meet a potential client there, you run the risk of constantly being bothered by wait staff and the cacophony of other patrons. It can be hard to have a conversation in this kind of environment. And your office can be threatening to someone who’s never been there. Why not take things outdoors? Getting in 9 or 18 holes first thing in the morning is therapeutic. And your potential client will feel it, too. Golf naturally has ebbs and flows of activity, too, so your partner won’t feel pressure to carry a conversation. You’ll both be allowed to dip in and out of shoptalk in between shots.
You get to see how people handle certain situations. Business can be stressful. Seeing how a potential client handles pressure can give you a pretty good idea of how he or she would react in a business setting. If they slice their ball into the woods or into a lake, does their 7-iron also go with it? Do they constantly blame the ball or the course for their mistakes? When the going gets tough, is your potential client tough enough to get going, learn from his or her mistakes, and work hard to get the job done?
It’s a marathon, and marathons require endurance. 18 holes isn’t for rookies. It takes patience and grit. If you’re looking for a client with whom you can do business for the long haul, perhaps the way he or she makes it through a round of golf can be a telltale sign of things to come. If the client gives up halfway through, suggesting instead that you retire to the clubhouse for drinks, it may speak to larger volumes about the person’s commitment.
Golf brings out your character. Does your potential client like to play golf or does he or she like to be seen playing golf? Do they constantly brag about their handicap or miraculous puts they’ve sunk, or do they simply want to enjoy the game with you? A person’s subtle characteristics might be difficult to pick up during just one game of golf. But when you do, it could mean the difference between working with a client who’s self-involved and a client who wants to journey side-by-side with you.