Baseball, the good ol’ American pastime. A game where kids flock to the field during the summer and when stadiums come alive during every game. The experience of watching a baseball game in a jam-packed crowd of over 30,000 people cheering. What you may not be aware of is that baseball players and social sellers have a lot in common.
The best of the best baseball players weren’t born successful. No, they worked hard, they took risks and they failed along the way. But during their trials and tribulations, they figured out what it took to succeed. Many of these same lessons apply to the average sales professional. So here are 5 key traits that will make you a championship winning social seller.
1) Mental Toughness
Unlike any other sport, baseball focuses heavily on mental strength. Yes, athleticism and strength play critical roles but as proven in Moneyball by Billy Bean, emotional and mental toughness reign supreme. This is significantly similar to sales because there is a roller coaster of emotions where you experience the highs of closing a deal and the lows of not hitting your quota. The best sales professionals begin with the right mindset, then work on skill set and accelerate their career with the right toolset.
Often times sales professionals experience the occasional slump. However, the best of the best make it necessary to continuously learn and improve their skill set. Whether you’re keeping up with industry trends, studying best practices or taking sales training, learning engagement is a key indicator for future success. For example, one mid-market technology company who took social selling training increased their LinkedIn SSI scores across the board. As a result, this was synonymous with class participation and an early indicator to revenue growth through social selling.
2) Challenging The Status Quo
You’re in the batter’s box, standing 60 feet away from the pitcher. Your mind is set on swinging your bat and hitting the ball out of the park. The adrenaline is rushing, the pitcher is winding up and you’re ready to swing. The pitcher in front of you unloads a 100 MPH fastball at your direction. You have two options, stand there and hope it’s a ball or swing it out of the park.
Baseball players understand the risks they’re walking into, however, they understand effectiveness lies within challenging the status quo. The pitcher wants you to do what’ve done before which is striking out. However, intrinsically you want to knock that ball out of the park. Similarly to sales, we’re told to stick with traditional methods of selling such as cold calling, cold emails and banging the phone (note: these don’t work as effectively anymore). Technology and social media may seem like a challenge but those who embrace it will knock it out of the park. The top baseball players are like the top salespeople, they challenge the status quo and aim for what’s beyond the fence.
3) Failing Often And Rebounding
Baseball is the only sport where you can strikeout two out of three times and still be considered one of the greatest. That’s right, failing twice in every three chances will get you a .333 batting average and a ticket to the Hall of Fame. Baseball allows you to fail more than you succeed and praises you for this, however, this wasn’t designed by accident.
Just like in many aspects of sales, you’re not going to hit a homerun in every decision you make and in every sales deal. Although the outcome may not have moved you closer to you number, a failure is an initiative that teaches you a lesson on how to strive towards that same goal in the future. Fortunately enough, you’ll succeed a few times as well. It may bruise your ego however failure leaves you with a great teacher. Baseball players are notorious for re-evaluating their preparation, execution and any factors within their control.
In anything you decide to do, failure can, and will happen. Failure offers you a chance to iterate and improve. You can do this by careful planning, starting with understanding what your mistakes were. Work with your sales leaders, coaches, taking training and learning from peers to evaluate further.
4) Making Necessary Changes Quick
Baseball players who aren’t hitting their numbers are known to break their routines to dispel the dreaded slump. To mitigate the slump from lasting forever, they tend to take risks in order to break it. They wear the same underwear, grow out a beard and even perform voodoo. Making the necessary changes quickly in every aspect of sales can bring great rewards.
This is not an easy decision to make, especially under pressure. If you notice your email subject lines, cadence or the content you’re sharing isn’t getting engagement, it’s time to make a change. Reverse engineer your sales objectives and use data to understand what’s not working. Iterate fast to change your existing sales process and improve your overall cadence. If you notice cold calling isn’t working (as it shouldn’t) then look to engage your buyers where they are today, which may be online and social media.
Building A Championship Winning Sales Team
Often sales professionals overestimate the consequences of taking risks and let imagination take over. However, continually doing what’s not working can mean that you’ll be passively watching from the sidelines. Understand that successful baseball players are like successful sales professionals — it’s about mindset first. Building mental toughness to endure the highs and lows which will build a foundation. Make continuous learning a necessary component of your career and always look to challenge the status quo. You’ll fail along the way but let that help you improve. These are the four key components of a championship winning baseball team and a quota crushing sales force.