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Channel Ichiro Suzuki And Win At Sales!

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Posted by steve on September 25, 2011 at 5:23 pm

I write a great deal about business growth strategies. Given a business growth strategy, if you have a team of salespeople that can replicate many “Ichiro Suzukis” when it comes to sales, you will nail the strategy.

In 2004, Ichiro Suzuki had 262 hits as a Major League Baseball player with the Seattle Mariners. It was the most hits within a season that anyone had ever attained in Major League baseball. He attained the most hits ever by nailing two personal records altogether, the number of times he came to the plate (704) and his batting average (.372).

If you intend to optimize your sales for a given business growth strategy, begin by thinking in these terms. The more times your salespeople get to the plate with prospects, the more sales. The higher their close rate, the more sales you will get

So, how do you get much more at bats with prospects and how do you enhance your close rates for those at bats?

More at bats

Achieving more bats in the game of baseball involves staying healthy, playing exceptionally well enough to stay in the game, and batting early in the line up.

Achieving more at bats in sales is achieved by having a disciplined team of salespeople that sets high expectations for the amount of prospective customer calls they will make. Even when the marketing department is not capable of furnishing an adequate number of sales leads, the very best sales teams produce their own sales leads. The number of at bats is a sales discipline issue.

Higher Close Rates

Higher close rates are different. Like a baseball batting average, there are a number of factors that go into a great close rate external to the sales team. Most importantly, you will need to create a competitive advantage in your target audience segment. More broadly, you can greatly enhance the batting average by getting your market clarity right. Achieving the right market clarity is like the whole company (other than sales) pitching your salespeople slow softballs over the center of the plate. The sales leads are warm and involved and give the sales team the best chance to boost their batting average.

Beyond market clarity and getting the slow softball over the center of the plate for your sales team batters, your sales team still need to be fantastic hitters

Excellent hitters in baseball become great because they posses natural skills and passion, study the pitchers, practice endlessly, and learn from great coaches. 

Excellent sales batters have natural skills and the drive to to win, however, they also do quite a bit of work to learn about your customers, your use cases, your product, your sales methodology, and they are proud of practicing and getting better. 

Your sales leadership and product marketing can assist by delivering the methodology, tools, and training. This is crucial, as it gives the sales staff the option to learn and develop their sales skills for your product, but it won’t, by itself, produce great sales batters. Your sales team also need to possess discipline and passion to take the essential steps to access the learning opportunities, practice, and get better!

Creating Teams of Good Hitters

Great offensive baseball teams are developed by stellar, fantastic general managers and coached by stellar coaching staffs. Wonderful sales teams are built and coached by stellar sales managers as part and parcel of a company development strategy. The excellent managers inspire the other departments to provide the market clarity and help to train the sales team, however they also ensure that each and every individual team member is qualified, trained, and generating sound results and they are not hesitant about cutting the inferior performers from the team and getting good, high-potential players in their place!

Want more sales? Be like Ichiro Suzuki by maximizing both your sales at bats and your batting average! Better yet, build a team of people that posses a high potential to become Ichiro Suzuki!

Scott Maxwell is the founder and Senior Managing Director of OpenView Venture Partners.

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