Focus on Winning to Drive More Sales and Revenue

Another “baseball is to sales” analogy shouldn’t surprise readers because I’ve already published more than 100 different articles over the past 19 years showing how selling is just like baseball.  However, unlike the previous 100 plus efforts, this article will discuss how selling is different from baseball.

In baseball there is a huge focus on numbers, but that’s more for fans while providing coaches with analytics they can use.  Some players focus on their own numbers but  in a team sport that relies so much on individual performance, the overall emphasis is on winning games, winning series, and winning championships.

By contrast, 38 years in sales consulting has shown me that selling is only about the numbers and admittedly, at times, I’ve been guilty of contributing to that focus on numbers.  Quotas, pricing, margins, forecasts, conversions, quotes, close rates, meetings booked, average sale and more.  One could argue that this is very similar to the numbers that are tracked in baseball, like BA (Batting Average), RBIs (Runs Batted In), Runs, OBP (On-Base Percentage) Slugging (Slugging Percentage), OPS (slugging plus OBP), SO (Strikeouts) BB (Walks ) HR (Home Runs) XBA (Expected Batting Average, ERA (Earned Run Average), WHIP (Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched) K/BB (Strikeout to Walk Ratio), etc.

Make no mistake, while the focus in sales is mostly on numbers, the goal in baseball is to win and the numbers simply tell us who contributed to the wins.

What would happen if the focus in selling went from numbers to wins?  How do we:

  • Beat competitor #1?
  • Beat competitor #2?
  • Beat competitor #3?
  • Win account #1?
  • Win account #2?
  • Win account #3?
  • Win the month?
  • Win the quarter?
  • Win the year?

When we discuss beating a competitor, or winning an account, PRICE is NOT one of the levers you should pull. Anyone can win an account and beat a competitor by pulling the price lever but that is not a long-term strategy for account retention or profitability. 

Numbers help salespeople get to the point in a sales cycle where they can discuss winning an account. Every company should have a custom-built scorecard that accurately predicts which opportunities they are likely to win. (A must-read article about creating custom scorecards can be found here). If the scorecard predicts they are likely to win an opportunity, all future discussions, efforts, and resources should be focused on winning that opportunity.

In baseball, the coaching staff gets a report from their advanced scouts and from that report the coaches create a game plan.  How to pitch to that hitter, how to get this hitter out, what to expect from this pitcher, what pitch he likes to throw when he’s ahead in the count, the strength and accuracy of the outfield arms, etc.

What would a similar approach include if it was applied to winning an account?  I can tell you that it wouldn’t have much to do with your product, service, pricing or terms.

Some companies do some account planning for major accounts, but not nearly enough of this takes place.

What will happen to your business if you spend more time thinking about how to win, and less time focusing on your numbers?