In last week’s post, I shared a few thoughts on how consistent sales skill development is like baseball’s spring training season. Even tenured professionals improve with scheduled practice…each and every year.
This week, let’s take another page from baseball’s playbook and talk about batting averages.
Whether you like baseball or not, the concept of calculating a batting average is really quite simple. No advanced math degree required. Not only is it one of the oldest tools to measure a batter’s success at the plate, it is also so easily translated to almost any facet of life – personal or professional.
Calculating Your Batting Average
To determine a batting average, divide a player’s hits by the total at-bats for a number between zero (shown as .000) and one (shown as 1.000).
In sales coaching, sales workshops and leadership development (sales managers specifically), I often discuss how individual sales professionals need a lot of at bats. Across many points of the sales cycle and many different skills. If we aren’t trying something enough times, we don’t have enough data on whether it works well for us or not.
While I’m a huge fan of lifelong learning and learning for the sake of learning, in sales one also expects development and learning to lead to measurable outcomes.
With our own sales statistics, we don’t need to overthink this. And we definitely don’t need finite data from many months or years to draw conclusions, make adjustments, and see improvements. Trying something just 10 times (and tracking it well) usually provides enough of a data set to determine if it’s worth continuing.
Attending 10 networking events (with appropriate planning beforehand and follow up afterwards) is significantly different than going to one event once and deciding it wasn’t worth your time.
Knowing your batting average in several areas of your selling lifecycle, not just deal close ratio, can be a huge help. For your own personal development. For your earnings potential. For your client retention. And on and on.
Let’s take an example.
Here is a question I get all of the time.
Should I leave voicemails when prospecting?
This seems like a straightforward question. But it’s not. The answer depends on a few follow up questions.
- How well do you know the person you are calling?
- Have you written out a voicemail script?
- Have you rehearsed your voicemail script so it doesn’t sound like a script?
- If you’ve met the person before, will you be remembered when you leave your name?
- Do you know the person well enough to text or email first?
- Does the person listen to voicemails frequently?
- Have you researched if there’s a better way to reach this person?
Okay, let’s assume you have thought through these follow up questions. The question is not whether you should leave voicemail messages or not (in prospecting efforts). The bigger question is whether you’ve personally tracked enough data to know if leaving voicemails leads to a call back or something else productive in your selling efforts for you personally?
Are you tracking this data? This is an area a lot of sales professionals guess instead. Literally write down the names of the next 10 people you leave voicemails for and keep track of the results. One out of 10 call backs? Three out of 10 call backs? Nine out of 10 call backs? What’s your batting average? And in some industries and situations, one out of 10 call backs might be more than sufficient to fill your prospecting pipeline. In others, you might expect 30 – 50% return on your efforts.
Trying Something 10 Times
You can apply this batting average concept to almost anything in your selling efforts.
- Cold emails
- Warm emails
- Cold calls
- Warm calls
- Marketing campaigns
- Networking events
- Webinars (led or attended)
- And so much more
As with almost anything the point is to choose a few areas where you know improvement will lead to more sales, shorter sales cycles, better client retention, or some combination.
In sales, there are many things that can lead to one’s success.
I’m no statistician, but I find getting even 10 at bats with a specific skill can be a game changer with your own development, your close ratio, and your earnings potential.
You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Be willing to try. Remember to track your data. And share your successes!