The 2010 Major League Baseball season officially gets underway this Sunday evening with its greatest rivalry, the Boston Red Sox versus the New York Yankees, at Fenway Park. It gives me a great excuse to write a baseball themed article. But hey, what else would you expect from the author of Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball?
This week is one of the most active weeks for General Managers because they need to trim their rosters to 25 players. The best 25 players. The 25 players that give their teams the best chance to win, the greatest depth, and the best protection in case of injury. General Managers have several tools they can use to evaluate who gets those final roster spots. They can go by what they witnessed, first hand, during Spring Training. They can go by the players' statistics from the Spring Training games, or they can use a player's statistics from the last year, two years or three years to make their decisions. There are dozens of statistics being used these days, with the traditional stats of HR, RBI, BA, and ERA being overtaken by newer stats like OPS, OPB, and WHIP. I'm all for the newer stats because of the insights they provide.
You should be evaluating your sales team's performance as the first quarter of 2010 comes to a close. You have many ways to evaluate sales performance. Observation, statistics, sales force evaluation, performance, etc. As part of a sales force evaluation, sales force optimization - the optimal number of salespeople for your sales force - should be considered. Unlike baseball, the number is probably not 25. But once you have the number, it becomes much easier to determine who the best salespeople are. The ones that give you the best chance to win, the best depth, and the best protection in case of injury. Baseball doesn't award roster spots for tenure, appreciation, or effort. The spots go the best, period. You should do the same.
You have one huge advantage over baseball General Managers though. Forward looking indicators. Except for observation, all of the statistics they use in baseball are lagging indicators. They tell the story of how a player has performed in the past, not how they will perform in the future. And while past performance can be an indicator of future performance, it can't be relied upon. Too often, companies rely on lagging indicators to evaluate sales performance by citing revenue. While revenue is important, forward looking indicators are more significant. They can accurately predict future sales performance in a way that would make baseball's General Managers drool! I wrote this comprehensive article on What to Do With Your Useless Sales Pipeline for AlisterPaine.com.
Rely on your forward looking indicators - your sales pipeline and the metrics that keep it filled and balanced - and you can accurately predict your revenue before, instead of after the fact. Not only will you be able to predict revenue, but you'll be able to impact it as well. Don't like what you see? Change something! It's just a lot easier to change the numbers before they happen than after.