Matt Russell is passionate about golf. And as a three-time All-American in his time at Berry College with two stints as a professional, it is safe to say he’s also pretty good at it. While he eventually stepped away from the competitive track and went on to raise a family and have a successful career in sales management, his passion remains.
Fortunately, seven years ago, Matt was able to merge this passion with his profession once again. Now, he works as a Master Fitter and Fitting Team Sales Leader for Parsons Xtreme Golf (PXG), a custom-fit experiential golf club manufacturer.
“It’s funny - I think people who play golf and work in sales are probably wired the same. There are a lot of parallels between the two,” he explains. “To be good at either, you need to have both personal drive and motivation. Neither one is a team sport. Sure, you might have other people with you, but in the end, it always comes down to your own performance.”
Even though Matt spent some time away from the course, he says the lessons he learned stayed with him and profoundly impacted his career in sales.
1. You can’t control the outcome, but you can control your effort and your attitude.
I can hit my best shot and still land in a bad spot. I can play my absolute best and still lose the tournament. I can make a great sales pitch, and the customer still doesn’t buy. Just because I didn’t get the outcome I wanted doesn’t mean my efforts were wasted. In fact, they could still pay off in the long run. Every time I play a course, I gain experience, and I get better. That customer might not buy, but he could still tell his buddies about the amazing experience he had.
2. You can’t live on the success of yesterday.
I can play a course well one day, but when I come back to play, I’m starting from the beginning again. It’s the same with sales — I can have great numbers at the end of the month, but when that calendar rolls over, I’m starting at zero again. Some people get turned off by that repetition, but I consider it challenging. Sure, I did it once, but can I do it again? How can I do it even better? It forces me to really focus on the moment at hand, whether that’s my customer or the next hole. I must look at what’s happening in front of me and focus my efforts there, not on my past.
3. There will always be someone who’s better than you, but that means there’s always an opportunity to learn.
Playing professional golf was humbling. I thought I was a really good player when I started. I had been playing some of the best golf of my life when I stepped away. But I remember playing with Stewart Cink a few times — talk about humbling. He was way better than I was. But instead of letting that discourage me, I turned it into an opportunity. I watched other players to see what I could take away and apply to my own game. Maybe I’d never match them for raw talent, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t improve my game.
It’s been the same in my time at PXG. I know golf, and I know sales, but seeing some of the other guys — it just reminds me that I have so much to learn. And I love that. I love the ongoing challenge of having something to reach for. So, I do the same thing. I listen to what they have to say and how they interact with the customers; I’ll talk to them and just take in whatever they’re putting out. That’s what you do when you’re around the best; you learn what you can and apply it.
About Matt Russell
Former professional golfer and three-time All American at Berry College, Matt Russell is PXG Atlanta’s Fitting Team Lead. Prior to joining PXG Matt was an Associate Member of the PGA, Hardgoods Supervisor at the PGA Tour Superstore, and a Front-End Manager at Target. He has more than 20 years’ experience in sales and customer service. An Atlanta native, Matt has four children with his wife Gabrielle.
By Matt Russell, Custom Club Fitter at PXG.