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Why Prospecting is Like Baseball

by Trish Bertuzzi on Tue, Jun 23, 2009


Paul McCord was kind enough to invite me to participate in his Boost Your Sales Series. The following is cross-posted from the Sales and Sales Management Blog.
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I am not a fanatical baseball fan like some of my friends.  My friend Linda can quote stats and facts about the Red Sox till your head spins.  She lives for the game.

Anyway, the reason I want to talk about why prospecting is like baseball is because I recently saw a quote by Mickey Mantle that struck home:

"During my 18 years in baseball, I came to bat almost 9,000 times.  I struck out over 1,700 times and walked over 1,800 times.  That means I played seven years in the major leagues without even hitting a baseball."

Wow - 7 years without hitting the ball! What dedication, what a positive mental attitude, what a viewpoint that you have to put in the time to get the results you need to be an all star. 


Don't you wish your sales organization understood that successful prospecting needs to be based on the same positive attributes?

How many times have you heard Reps say: "I called those leads and they are terrible"? Then you go into the database and see that they lobbed out a few calls to a few of the leads and, big surprise, they got out of that effort what they put in - nothing

Or, how many of them lament that cold calling yields no results yet they never do it? Or, and this one gets my blood boiling, how many times have you heard them call a prospect and say "Bob, I was just calling to follow-up on a whitepaper you recently downloaded"?  Yeah, that's a compelling message!

So, how do you provide them with the dedication, positive mental attitude and the understanding that every prospecting exercise may not result in a home run? You coach them - every great athlete has a great coach behind them.

  • Coaching Step 1:
    Give them the metrics against which to measure themselves.

    Baseball is all about stats and so is prospecting.  Set their expectations that they will connect with 20 - 25% of their dials and that 10 - 17% of those connections will result in a qualified opportunity.

  • Coaching Step 2:
    Provide them with the equipment they need to be successful.

    Give them great leads, give them accurate lists and give them great tools.  Have you created elevator pitches that are about your buyer persona and not about you?  Have you crafted voicemail messages and emails templates that deliver value and resonate with your prospect's issues? 

  • Coaching Step 3:
    Act like a coach.

    When was the last time you swung a bat?  If you lead a team, you should spend at least 4 hours a month doing their job.  Get in there and prospect.  There is a double benefit to this - you will walk a mile in their shoes and just as importantly, you will get to hear how the market responds to your messaging.  Then take all that great knowledge and coach your team.

  • Coaching Step 4:
    Let them compete.

    Sales Reps like to compete and allowing them to compete at the level of prospecting levels the playing field.  Not everyone is a superstar when it comes to revenue but everyone can be a superstar when it comes to prospecting.

Well, I am out of baseball analogies so I guess I will wrap up now, but what I hope you take away from this is that just like Mickey Mantle, your team has to invest time on the playing field if they are going win the game!

(Photo credit: dcJohn)

Topics: cold calling, inside sales management, inside sales motivation

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