Friday, February 27, 2009

Salespeople Are You Playing Moneyball By Measuring What Really Counts

Writen by Dr. Gary S. Goodman

"Moneyball" is a book that came out recently about Billy Beane, General Manager of the Oakland A's.

It takes a close look at Beane's successful stewardship of the team, noting that the A's have had one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, yet they've racked up an astonishing number of victories, putting them in the playoffs several times.

Beane and his staff are basically, numbers crunchers, quant nerds, if you will. They track every major league ballplayer according to certain performance categories.

But their snapshot of a hitter isn't based only on batting average, stolen bases, home runs, and fielding percentages. They look at on-base percentage, runs scored, and other measures.

This makes a player who draws a lot of walks, in addition to hitting for average, more valuable than a guy who only hits for average. It also rewards those who get on base any way they can, through errors and fielder's choices.

Beane's breakthrough is in highlighting less sexy, yet very significant statistics, which he claims are more reliable indicators of a player's value than other factors. Thus, he's been able to buy, at a discount, players for his cash-poor team, that are undervalued, under-appreciated, but who can make an important contribution to the A's, nonetheless.

This wisdom, knowing what statistics count, is incredibly important in sales, customer service, and other business areas. The real question is this one: are we measuring the right things, valuing our players appropriately, and putting our emphasis behind the best possible winning strategy or game plan?

Typically, we use measures and statistics that are traditionally used, that have been handed down to us. Seldom do we even take a hard look at whether they're serving us or disserving us. And even less do we throw them out and field an entirely new set of metrics.

My father, for instance, was the top salesman wherever he worked because he knew how to leverage his assets. He handpicked his own prospecting lists, which was the marketing side of his job, and then he called them to set appointments.

But what set him apart from his peers was his canny ability to know, through rational analysis, and after the briefest contact, who NOT to pursue.

He had a great ear for B.S. and for sincere interest, he knew the difference, and he never second-guessed his instincts.

So, overall, he saw fewer people, followed-up less, but he closed a higher percentage of deals, that yielded more commissions for him and more profit for the house.

A traditional numbers-crunching manager, and he had a few, would look at his activity logs and scratch his head. It wouldn't add up.

His approach to Dad would be to urge him to see more people; it was only logical, but wrong. Dad was seeing the best ones, ignoring the rest, but his NOT-DOING was the highest form of action.

Where is the statistic that quantifies DISQUALIFYING prospects?

We don't ask our reps, who did you choose NOT to see, today, and not to call back, and not to leave messages with, and not to take notes about, and not to dream of closing?

In baseball, Beane and Company examine the number of pitches hitters take without swinging; how deeply they take pitchers into the count. He measures NOT-DOING, which in this case is not swinging the bat, knowing when hitters take pitchers deeper into counts:

(1) They see better pitches to hit with a 3-1 count than with a 1-1, or 2-2 count;

(2) They wear out the pitchers, forcing opponents to rely on their less capable bullpen hurlers; and

(3) These advantages mean Beane's crew will score more runs and fatigue the other team by keeping them on the field longer, doing defense.

Dad didn't exhaust himself. He let his peers do that, and as long as they were under performing, he looked great, and he could claim higher and higher commissions as his rightful due.

He played "Moneyball."

Are you?

Dr. Gary S. Goodman, President of, is a popular keynote speaker, management consultant, and seminar leader and the best-selling author of 12 books, including Reach Out & Sell Someone® and Monitoring, Measuring & Managing Customer Service, and the audio program, "The Law of Large Numbers: How To Make Success Inevitable," published by Nightingale-Conant. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, worldwide. A Ph.D. from USC's Annenberg School, a Loyola lawyer, and an MBA from the Peter F. Drucker School at Claremont Graduate University, Gary offers programs through UCLA Extension and numerous universities, trade associations, and other organizations in the United States and abroad. He holds the rank of Shodan, 1st Degree Black Belt in Kenpo Karate. He is headquartered in Glendale, California, and he can be reached at (818) 243-7338 or at:

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