Want More Sales? Be like Ichiro Suzuki!

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I write a lot about business growth strategies. Given a business growth strategy, if you have a team that can create “Ichiro Suzukis” in 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 in a season that anyone had ever achieved in Major League baseball. He achieved the most hits ever by nailing two personal records at the same time, the number of times he came to the plate (704) and his batting average (.372).

If you want to maximize your sales for a given business growth strategy, start 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.

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

More at bats

Getting more bats in baseball is all about staying healthy, playing well enough to stay in the game, and batting early in the line up.

Getting more at bats in sales comes from having a disciplined sales team that sets high expectations for the number of prospect calls they will make. Even when the marketing department is not able to furnish enough sales leads, the best sales teams create 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 lot of factors that go into a great close rate that are outside of the sales team. Most importantly, you need to create a competitive advantage in your target market segment. More broadly, you can significantly improve the batting average by getting your market clarity right. Getting your market clarity right is like the entire company (other than sales) pitching the sales team slow softballs over the center of the plate. The sales leads are warm and interested and give the sales team the best opportunity to improve their batting average. You can learn more about market clarity here and some ideas for improving market clarity here.

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

Great hitters in baseball become great because they have natural skills and passion, study the pitchers, practice a lot, and learn from great coaches.

Great sales batters have natural skills and the passion to succeed, but they also do a lot of work to learn about your customers, your use cases, your product, your sales methodology, and they take pride in practicing and getting better.

Your sales leadership and product marketing can help by providing the methodology, tools, and training. This is important, as it gives the sales staff the opportunity to learn and develop their sales skills for your product, but it won’t, by itself, create great sales batters. Your salespeople also need to have the discipline and passion to take the necessary steps to access the learning opportunities, practice, and get better!

Creating Teams of Good Hitters

Great offensive baseball teams are built by great, great general managers and coached by great coaching staffs. Great sales teams are built and coached by great sales managers as part of a company development strategy. The great managers encourage the other departments to provide the market clarity and help to train the sales team, but they also ensure that each individual team member is qualified, trained, and producing solid results and they are not shy about cutting the poorer performers from the team and getting good, high-potential players to replace them!

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

You can get the stats on Ichiro Suzuki here.