Times at Bat

Wednesday, October 16 2019

I’m a firm believer that “nothing happens until somebody sells something.”   When you think about it, every human interaction you have in your personal, family, professional and business life, is basically a sales call.  Thus, we all use selling techniques effectively, all day, everyday, in everything we say and do.

But finding new clients is tough and can be discouraging.  One of the challenges I personally had to overcome was the disappointment in losing a sale. I needed to maintain my confidence and quickly get back on my horse.

Over the years, I have dealt with it by focusing on keeping an abundantly full sales funnel.  The rationale simply being that you can’t win ‘em all but if you have enough opportunities, which I like to call “times at bat”,  and you follow your sales training, you will close enough business to be successful.  Thus, the marginal impact of losing deal “X” becomes minimal.

As you get to know me, you will learn that I love sports.  I may be known as “Joe the Hockey Guy”, but my first love has and will always be baseball.  My passion and knowledge of the sport has helped me as a sales professional.

So I’d like to briefly discuss how my passion for baseball has helped me be a better salesperson and focus on times at bat.

For those of you unfamiliar with baseball nuances, a player with a batting average of .300 or better, is a superstar.  That means that getting on base by hitting a baseball is so challenging, that a player who fails 7 out of 10 times on average is at the top of his peer group.

When you think about it, finding new clients isn’t much different.  Most times the odds are heavily stacked against you.  A hitter in baseball is outnumbered on the field 9-1.  Trying to hit a round ball with a round bat, thrown at him at 95 mph, by someone who doesn’t like him.  Sales situations offer similar obstacles that often are “pitches in the dirt” (objections) that we must overcome to be successful.

So how does a player be a successful hitter and maintain confidence against such overwhelming odds?  Former Blue Jays manager, Cito Gaston once predicted at the start of the season that Joe Carter would get at least 100 Runs Batted In (known in the vernacular as RBI’s).  When asked how he was so confident he said “I place him third in the batting order every day”.  In so doing, Carter, if he played every game, would step up to the plate close to 700 times (sales funnel) and by batting third in the batting order, he was likely to have players on base fairly often (quality prospects) that would allow him to ultimately achieve his objective.  Result – 100 (or more) RBI.

Joe Carter had his perfect environment set up for him.  He just had to execute.  To execute he needed to maintain his confidence.  In our business, we are responsible for creating our own perfect environment to succeed.  We need to use the tools we have at our disposal, like the CRM, effectively.  I always approach my prospecting by connecting face to face regularly with as many quality prospects as I can, keeping that sales funnel full.  Creating as many quality opportunities to achieve a meaningful result but also limiting the negative impact of inevitable failure.

I’ll get my hits and my RBI’s and when I fail, I’m confident in knowing that I’ll be getting another quality time at bat very soon.  With this approach, I never get down on myself nor discouraged and create the best environment to be successful.

This played out on the field in the sixth game of the 1993 World Series.  As most of you know, Joe Carter hit a home run to win the world series for the Blue Jays.  It’s only happened twice in the 150-year history of the game.  But what did he do in his previous at bat?  With the game on the line, he was completely fooled on a pitch, checked his swing and grounded out meekly to the pitcher.  He tipped his cap to the pitcher, confidence intact, knowing that while you can’t win ‘em all, he would get another time at bat.  He did, and the rest is history.