In defence of golf

You know I read a lot – occupational hazard I guess. I just finished up another report looking at the Irish Miracle (among others). A bunch of economists authored the report and it focused the grand macro-economic policies of Ireland such as trade liberalization, monetary policy, fiscal policy, educational policy, infrastructure policy, etc. etc. etc. All the stuff that economists like to talk about.

But, like almost all the other reports, there was no mention of the importance of ‘sales’. I guess economists and policy makers thumb their noses at the even more dismal science of economic development. For folks that have never been in sales (particularly the business of selling a community or jursidiction), that goes as an afterthought.

But it shouldn’t. I took executive sales training back in the 1990s when I was out selling New Brunswick and the guy said that standard line that only about 20% of sales is the product and 80% is the ‘intangibles’ like relationship building. Translated to the economic development business that would mean that 20% is the economists’ stuff and 80% is the getting out there and doing the ‘economic development’.

Certainly not the best parallel but you get my point. Someone should talk about the Irish Development Authority’s 20 international sales offices. Someone should talk about the many games of golf, the long dinners, the schmoozing of clients. Someone should discuss the impressive marketing efforts and public relations activities. And then there is all the little stuff that is done by economic development agencies to support site selection that would be considered small potatoes by the high and mighty economists.

Maybe some of those economists should get out there and try to actually sell something. Put on the “My name is…” tag and stand in a booth sometime. Get their hands dirty. It’s not all policy talk and gin tonics.