I watched Brad Pitt in Moneyball when it came out. I don’t know if you know the story, but it chronicles the efforts of Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane to assemble a winning baseball team through the use of computer analysis of player statistics. This idea goes against the traditional grain in baseball to pick players by gut feel and real life experience of their talent.
Before going further I should position myself as a Brit—transposed in my twenties to Canada. My knowledge of baseball is lower than rudimentary, and the only time I got juiced up on the sport was when Toronto won two World Series in a row. Back to Moneyball.
Billy was able to adopt his alternative approach to team building because statistics have always been a fundamental part of baseball. Indeed, when researching this post I learned that there is a special name for it—sabermetrics. Sabermetrics is the search for objective knowledge about baseball. Thus, sabermetrics attempts to answer objective questions about baseball, such as, “Which player on the Red Sox contributed the most to the team’s offense?” Or, “How many home runs will Ken Griffey hit next year?”
Part way through the movie Billy shouts “it’s all about process, process, process.” This triggered a thought. For twenty five years I’ve had a passion for modeling the selling process so that it can be understood, described, or mapped out in a computer. The idea is to push some uniformity and consistency into how salespeople work on a “portfolio” of sales opportunities. In turn, sales managers can get a better handle on the health of opportunities across the many portfolios of the sales team. Billy’s ideas can work in sales.
Sales departments have been storing histories of their selling efforts for years. It’s part of the job of assembling data for forecasting, preparing customer’s orders for production, or servicing customers after the sale has been made. The range of information covers everything from before a customer is identified until they are established repeat buyers.
The trouble is, the information on the actual selling part is scattered everywhere, some of it in the hands of the salespeople themselves, some shared across the organization, but much of it containing an overwhelming spin of how the individual salesperson saw that sale unfold. It’s tough for the salesperson or the sales team to learn by looking at what’s gone before if the data they have to use can’t be trusted.
Working with a consistent description of the sale helps build a bank of statistics similar to the sabermetrics that Billy used. We are going to be talking a lot about how this can be done in the section in the HUB called “Sales Analytics”. It’s a sub-category of “Sales Methodology.” Join us there for some thought provoking discussion that will benefit you as a salesperson or a sales manager.
Believe it or not, both parties share the bulk of the same interests.