If you’re familiar with American baseball—and any good at riddles—you’ll know the answer. For everyone else, the answer is a catcher and an umpire.
I’m a big baseball fan, and I’ve often pondered how much account based sales reps could learn from the game. After all, baseball and sales have a lot in common. Baseball players are responsible for advancing their way to home, scoring points, and winning games. Account based selling reps are responsible for scoring meetings, advancing the sales process, and winning deals.
So, what can sales leaders learn from America’s favorite pastime?
Account Based Selling Requires a Team Approach
Baseball is strategic. It demands both technical prowess and a team culture. A pitcher throws to a batter with the objective of striking him out. Behind the batter is a catcher. He and the pitcher are in sync on every pitch. The pitcher’s job is to prevent the other team from scoring. Sometimes he does that by striking the batter out, but he must often rely on his team to catch fly balls or to prevent runners from advancing bases.
Once in a while, a batter gets hit by a hardball moving 90 miles an hour. Sometimes it’s intentional. When that happens, the teams come running out of their dugouts and start fighting. (Boys, you really need to grow up.)
I’m certainly not suggesting account based selling teams should get into brawls with their competitors. My point is simply this: Baseball is a team sport, and great account based sales reps understand that sales is, as well. The more we know and trust our teammates, the better likelihood we have of winning big deals … together.
Don’t Strike Out with a Fast Sales Pitch
Pitching belongs in baseball, but somehow we’ve gotten the terminology mixed into our sales lexicon. I’ve always baffled when salespeople talk about developing a pitch, because it’s basically about them.
For the prospect, it’s like getting hit with a hardball. I’m sure you’re been a recipient of a pitch. The team opened with information about their company and why you should choose them. Mostly it was because they’d been in business for many years, had important logos, and were professional. They showed you a picture of the company headquarters and told you about all the bells and whistles of their “stellar” solution. (Boring!)
The job of account based sales reps is to begin dialogues with buyers and to build relationships. Qualified lead generation doesn’t happen when you pitch.
Leave Your Competition in the Dust
There’s a saying in baseball that you’ll never get to second unless you take your foot off first.
That’s a mantra every account based selling team should adopt. Top salespeople keep moving the sales process along. No stopping. They’re always one step ahead of the competition because they ask good questions, listen to the answers, ask more questions, and extract information and perspectives from the client where less-experienced salespeople are clueless. They are confident in their solutions and in their companies’ ability to deliver. They’re willing to walk away if it’s not a fit. Actually, they don’t just walk away. First, they tap into their referral networks and introduce a trusted resource that can help the client. Then they move on to more qualified leads. Either way, they win the game.
Less experienced sales reps ask one or two questions and then assume they have zeroed in on clients’ needs and appropriate solution. This is rarely the case. They don’t take the time to really evaluate the client situation and understand and define the significant problem or need. This sales strategy is doomed to fail.
- How many people on your account based selling team have the skills to conduct an interactive, engaging business conversation?
- Have your salespeople outlined a questioning strategy with potential responses?
- Have your salespeople developed a competitive strategy to win the game?
Always Be Prepared: A Good Motto for Boy Scouts, Baseball Players, and Account Based Sales Reps
Professional ball players are steeped in analysis. They analyze the opposition, watch films of their games, assess the strengths and weaknesses of each player, and devise a winning strategy. When the team is on the field, all we see is the tip of the iceberg.
Unlike professional athletes, account-based sales reps can’t watch films of their prospects and don’t get the opportunity to do a detailed analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each buyer. They go into meetings without much insight into the real problem driving the need to change or the interpersonal dynamics of the buying team.
Sales teams do have predictive analytics, and access to social media and the wealth of information it provides. But the best way to get the inside track before talking to prospects is to ask for referrals. Referral sources will share as much as they know about a buyer’s personality, business challenges, goals, and decision-making criteria.
That’s one reason referrals help account-based sellers land and expand in enterprises. Once they land, they quickly expand when they ask for referrals. Their referral sources don’t just have relationships with leaders in other departments. They know what challenges those buyers are facing and how your team’s solution can help. Talk about the inside scoop!
Metrics Matter in Referral Selling
Baseball season is long. With 162 games per team played over approximately 30 weeks, it’s probably the only sport where you can have a success rate of 30 percent and still be considered a star with a multimillion-dollar contract.
In baseball, what separates a superior hitter from an average hitter is only 30 more hits per season—roughly one extra hit per week. That’s all. While a .250 hitter is considered an average ball player, a .300 hitter is a star. If each of them has 600 times at bats each season, a .250 hitter will have 150 hits, while the .300 hitter will have 180 hits. Those 30 extra successes make all the difference.
This is the same kind of analysis your account based selling team needs to do for lead generation. How many additional “hits” do you need to reach your revenue and profit goals? How many additional referral sources should your team ask for referrals each day or week? How many more referral meetings and referral clients will get you to your goal?
Without metrics, you’ll never be sure whether your referral selling strategy is working, or how much you need to up your game to become a superior account based sales rep.
What are you waiting for? Batter up!
Want to help your sales team land and expand with the one-call meeting? Check out No More Cold Calling’s #1 Referral Selling Program for Account Based Sellers.
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