Like most kids during the 1950’s and ‘60’s, I (Doug) was in love with the game of baseball. My neighborhood crew played school-yard pickup games regularly and we all accumulated and traded major league baseball cards as if it was a full time job. The collection I had back then would make an incredible retirement fund today…Where are they, I wonder?
I was an 11 year old sixth grader in October 1960, when the Pittsburgh Pirates battled the New York Yankees in the World Series. I wanted the underdog Pirates to win, but my buddies were all Yankee fans and gave me a lot of jazz about me pulling for the Pirates. I began to doubt my choice after the Pirates got bombarded 16-3 in Game 2 and hammered 10-0 in Game 3, but I hung tough.
Long story short the series was tied 3-3 after the Yankees clobbered the Pirates 12-0 in Game 6 at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, setting the stage for a nail biting Game 7.
Earlier that year my grade school installed educational TV equipment in the school’s auditorium for experimental closed circuit programming. So lucky us, on that Thursday afternoon first pitch was at 1 pm, and classes were dismissed early so students could come to the auditorium and watch the last couple innings of this historic series.
After several lead changes the game swung back in the Pirates favor when they scored twice and took a 9-7 lead after 8 innings. But the Yankees came roaring back and tied the game 9-9 in their last at bats. So after battling to a 3-3 standoff in games, and deadlocked at 9-9, the Pirates had one more chance in the bottom of the final inning, before their hometown crowd. The lead-off batter was second baseman Bill Mazeroski, known more as a defensive player, with a lifetime batting average of only .260. But on the second pitch he jacked a monster 430 ft. walk-off home run that shut the door for good on the Yanks. (photo above).
BAM! And to think that I was able to see that live on black and white TV! Not many folks back in 1960 could say that, especially since night World Series games weren’t played until 1971. Nobody in that school auditorium was more excited about the outcome than I was. To this day ‘inside baseball’ nerds believe that this was the greatest Game 7 in World Series history.
With that as an intro, I need to get busy writing about today’s topic of how batting averages and slugging percentages relate to the selling profession. By definition Batting Average (BA) is calculated by dividing the number of hits a player gets by the number of at bats. It is a simple and straightforward statistic. The problem with BA is that it measures only the quantity of hits and not the quality. A swinging bunt infield single counts the same as a home run. I realize getting on base is important but over time, a player who hits homers is going to generate more runs than a player who hits singles.
What we call Slugging Percentage (SLG) today was formulated in the late 1950’s, but wasn’t perfected and formalized as a tracking stat until the early 1980’s. SLG is calculated by dividing the total number of bases by the number of at bats. A single is (1) base, a double is (2) bases, and so on. SLG tells you what BA does not, that is, the type of hits, not just the number. If you rely on BA alone; you would get an inaccurate assessment of a player’s offensive skills. Here’s two examples:
Babe Ruth’s career produced a BA of .309 and an SLG of .673 (MLB record).
Mark McGwire’s career yielded a BA of .263 and an SLG of .556.
Now, on to selling. For comparison purposes BA is to baseball like Closing Rate is in selling. This means that SLG in baseball compares favorably to total revenue produced in selling. So if my assigned budget is $100K for the month, I can either make 200 sales of $500 each, or 20 sales of $5,000 (bundles) each. Small ball would absolutely wear me out and I would probably run out of month before I attained my objective. Now don’t forget, “Selling is kind of like shaving; if you don’t do some every day you will soon become a bum.”
Here are actual sales numbers for a two week period from two different residential sales guys in adjoining states, both selling for local franchises of the same national company. They happen to also be in the same weekly online sales coaching group with me, and both guys are really good at what they do.
Proposal # Proposal $ Sales # Sales $ Closing %(BA) Avg. Sale(SLG)
57 $30,137 40 40 $19,916 70.2% (.702) $498 (.498)
21 $74,668 9 9 $26,258 42.9% (.429) $2,918 (2.92)
Regardless what you sell, no doubt you offer a variety of products and services over a wide range of prices. Some sales folks play small ball and make a lot of sales, but bring in less revenue. Others chase the elephants, and when they get one everybody stops and salutes. However these folks don’t bag an elephant every day. The wisest salespeople focus on bundling services and products based on customer needs, which yields “more revenue per mile” and much less wear and tear on the seller.
To wrap this up, with selling being such a tough profession, will these sales guys be as durable as left fielder Rickey Henderson, who played 3,081 games over 25yrs? Or will they end up like first baseman John Jaha, who was a very good player during his 826 games over 10 years, but was unable to stay healthy enough for a longer career?
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