While for most people, the ending of summer signals a mad rush to the ice cream shops and all day barbecues, for sports fans, the ending of summer likely means one thing: the beginning of both baseball and golf playoff season.
From the outside looking in, there doesn’t seem to be much in common between the sports, but look closer, and you’ll find a similar core value at the center of both games: repetition.
In both sports, the repetition found in each swing is the key to long-term success.
In golf, swings are mechanical and repeatable. Some are upright, some are flat, and then there is the Furyk swing, a strange, octopus-like movement that is as entertaining as it is effective.
A golfers round is wholly based off of routine, and one slight deviation from that routine can lead to utter disaster on the course. Something as simple as a misplaced hand alignment or slight follow-through too far to the left can derail a player's swing and leave them out of sync and mentally shattered.
Just look at Tiger Woods, for example, who is a shell of his former self after some serious back injuries have led to a major tweaking of his powerful swing. Tiger hasn’t played in a Major tournament since 2015, a year in which he missed the cut in three out of four Majors, and his last time out on the course saw him shoot an un-Tiger like 76 at the Hero World Challenge.
In baseball, having a set routine in the batters-box is a critical element as well. Jose Bautista has his leg kick. Bryce Harper torques his hands. Ken Griffey Jr. had his famous (and gorgeous) arm extension.
If you watch any of the game’s greats, you will realize that there is rarely any variation in their swings, but, like most things in life, baseball is about duality, and so baseball players need to be able to adjust their swing and mechanics on the fly in order to maximize their potential.
If a hitter is facing a knuckleball pitcher or hitting in a ballpark that is less hitter-friendly than others, they will need to adjust their game plan at the plate and trying something new. Maybe they rotate their hands more or shorten up their swing, but whatever it may be, it is important in baseball to be able to adjust one’s routine accordingly.
Like nine innings of baseball or 18-holes of golf, similar principles apply when selling. If a certain strategy or presentation that has historically worked in the sales process is falling flat, then sales leaders need to try something new. Your sales approach will be different if you’re selling to clients in sunny California than it will be if you’re pitching in North Dakota. Adjusting to your surroundings is a key aspect of selling.
If sales players followed the same principles of golf and beat their routine into the ground, then the company would eventually reach a point of no return.
Here are three reasons why you need to approach your sales process like a baseball player, not a golfer.
1. Stagnant lead generation
For most golfers, the first step in their swing routine is the most important of all. If that first step is misplaced in any way, then the rest of the routine is thrown off and the ball will usually end up in the woods or in the nearest pond. In sales, you can’t afford to let your lead generation dictate your process, for better or worse. Change it up if something is not working.
In baseball, a batter usually gets four at-bats a game in which to make an impact. If a player is 0-2 at the midway point of the game and their swing just isn’t working, the odds are high that they’ll make an adjustment at the plate and try something new to get their mojo back. The presenting stage in most sales processes is like the midway point of a baseball game. If the presentation isn’t working well and the team just isn’t getting through to their prospects, then an adjustment should be made in the name of changing things up.
The follow-through of a baseball swing is the last act of a hitter’s routine. While some players, like former Red Sox great David Ortiz, seem to always finish with their signature follow-through, there are certain situations that sometimes call for a change. Sometimes a player will need to bunt or shorten up their swing to hit a sacrifice fly. In sales, a company does not need to close out a deal the way they always do just because it’s tradition or has worked in the past. Change is good, and should be undertaken by sales teams whenever possible if the conversion rate is not where it should be.
Golf and baseball are both sports that are based off of repetition, and repetition can be used to do marvelous things when utilized correctly. Golfers are amazing athletes who can do amazing things with a golf club, but for the purposes of sales, a baseball swing is much more compatible to what needs to happen during a sales process.
How can you make your sales process more adaptive to fit your needs?