Sales Lessons from Baseball's 2013 World Series

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 29, 2013 @ 05:10 AM

2013 World SeriesI love comparing baseball with selling.  It all started in 2004 when I began writing my best-selling book, Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball.  Several readers emailed me this week to ask why I hadn't yet written anything about the World Series, especially when my favorite team, the Boston Red Sox, are participants.  I said it had to "hit" me first.

It's the eve of Game 6, but people are still debating the final plays and resulting call that ended Game 3.  If you have been hiding in a cave, the final out of the game occurred when Allan Craig, who appeared to be an easy out at home plate, was called safe due to obstruction by Red Sox' third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

Most fans in Boston still can't believe or accept that the game ended under such bizarre circumstances.  It reminded me of salespeople who continue to bemoan what they perceive to be bad decisions by prospects who awarded business to competitors.

Instead of bad or wrong calls and decisions, I believe that it's critical to frame decisions that don't go our way as tough decisions rather than bad or wrong decisions.  "Bad" is a judgment and leads to debate, while "tough" forces us to move on to lessons learned and action steps.  It is far more productive.

If you have been watching the Playoffs, you may have noticed the statistics showing Red Sox players who had key hits in the post season and the slumps that they endured before they came up big.  At the time of their big hits:

Jarrod Saltimaccia was 0-4 before his walk-off, game-winning single in Game 2 of the ALCS.

David Ortiz had been 0-6 in the ALCS before his game-tying grand slam in Game 2.

Jonny Gomes was just 5-33 in the post season and 0-9 in the World Series before his game-winning, three-run homer in Game 4 of the World Series.

Mike Napoli was 0-6 before his game-winning homer in Game 6 of the ALCS.

These guys stepped up and came up big despite their struggles.  Ortiz and Napoli went on tears after their key hits.  

Both examples in today's article really examine how players react to adversity.  You have salespeople who also must overcome adversity.

The big question with sales forces (especially salespeople) is can your non-performers step-up and become performers?  At Objective Management Group, we use science to determine and accurately predict whether your B's and C's can become A's and B's.  Track record, recent sales and gut instinct won't do it.  That's not science.  We consider measurable sales findings that are highly predictive of future performance.  John Farrell, Red Sox Manager, said his team is winning these games and coming through in the clutch "because of their will to succeed and their desire for success."  Among other things, we measure those two characteristics in salespeople to help determine whether your B's can be coached up and your C's can be saved.

Of course, it's not enough to know if they can be saved.  You also need to know how much better they will perform, what it will take in terms of training and coaching, and how long it will require to get them there.  We do that!  So, as in baseball's 2013 Playoffs, can your struggling salespeople step up and become the performers you need them to be?  Let us help you find out!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, grow sales, Baseline Selling, sales performance, coach your B's, save your C players

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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