Monday, October 11, 1999

Golf class grooms students

Day on the links builds sales skills

The Associated Press

        When Professor Dan Weilbaker dons a golf cap and glove and grabs a putter for a lecture, he doesn't have to yell “Fore!” to get attention.

        Business Golf 101, as he calls it, goes over like a hole-in-one among his sales students at Northern Illinois University.

        Mr. Weilbaker, a duffer with an MBA and a Ph.D. in marketing, says his one-day seminar provides a slice of the real world that undergraduates don't usually get in the classroom.

        “Academe often gets knocked for not providing students with real-world training,” he said before the seminar recently at Indian Lakes Conference and Resort Center in Bloomingdale, Ill.

        “Well, this is as real world as it gets if you want to pursue a career in sales,” he said.

        Students start off in the classroom learning such musts as: Replace your divots. No wheelies in the golf cart. Don't let the customer win. And don't talk business — for the first six holes.

        Then they grab their clubs and practice with executives who work with Mr. Weilbaker — and who sometimes are looking to hire.

        “You may close a big deal on the golf course,” Mr. Weil baker told them. “But that shouldn't be your goal. You should be trying to make a relationship with a person that will enable you to close the deal later.”

        Last year, one student tried too hard.

        Heather McLindsay, 21, who returned to the seminar this fall as a recruiter for Eli Lilly, recalls being so nervous that she blurted out her personal resume and desire to be hired by her playing partner before they even teed off.

        The amused recruiter, Chuck Howlett, hired her anyway. Now, as a pharmaceuticals saleswoman, she's sometimes asked to take prospective clients to the golf course — applying lessons from Business Golf 101.


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