From precision performance to detailed reporting, baseball and sales have a few things in common. And with the rise of “Moneyball”-style management, baseball has become more metrics-driven than ever.
Today is Opening Day for the Tigers here in our hometown of Detroit. To celebrate, we’re looking at professional baseball for insights on modern sales team management. And believe it or not, sales leaders can learn a lot from Major League Baseball. Here are some great pieces of advice from MLB pros that you can use to fine-tune your sales coaching.
Sales coaching lessons from professional baseball
1. “Baseball is not a sport you can achieve individually.” – Curt Schilling, former MLB pitcher and baseball analyst
The same goes for sales. As a manager, you need your reps to help the team achieve quota. But don’t just focus on the one or two top performers on your team. Research says that even a small productivity increase in the middle 60 percent of your team can yield 70 percent more revenue than the same increase in the top performers on your team.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help top performers. Everyone on your team needs coaching and motivation. But the largest group on any sales team is middle performers, so their actions impact the entire team more than top or bottom performers.
2. “If you have a bad day in baseball, and start thinking about it, you will have 10 more.” – Sammy Sosa, former MLB right fielder
This is a great sales coaching lesson. Sales is a hard job, and it’s very easy to feel discouraged after a series of bad sales calls or lost deals. It’s no wonder why the average rep turnover rate is 34 percent.
That’s why you must teach reps how to have more grit, a skill that will increase productivity through passion and perseverance. Also be sure to have weekly one-on-one sessions to take a holistic view of each salesperson’s status; ensure they don’t burnout without you knowing.
3. “There are only five things you can do in baseball – run, throw, catch, hit and hit with power.” – Leo Durocher, former professional baseball player, manager and coach
Focus on the fundamentals. That’s what the hundreds of modern sales leaders who utilize our sales management system do. According to CSO Insights, sales team quota attainment has decreased since 2012. Their research shows that the missing ingredient is the sales manager’s ability to manage the right activities and coach the related behaviors (leading indicators) that lead to the desired results (lagging indicators).
Those leading indicators are the fundamental selling activities that lead to closing business: calls, meetings, creating opportunities, progressing opportunities, sending proposals and closing deals. When you identify the right ones for your specific sales process and set very clear daily, weekly and monthly goals for your reps around them, the results you desire will follow. (Here’s a process that will help you do that).
Ready to take your sales coaching to the next level? Check out our recent webinar, “How to Build a High-Impact Sales Coaching Strategy.”