Sales is a Game, a Contact Sport

Running a small business can be a lot like managing a sports team, and understanding the relevant, performance-based metrics involved can help enhance your business’ success. Check out this Moneyball analogy and learn how you can buck conventional wisdom to benefit your business.


Selling is a game based on numbers and, like many sports, the use of performance-based metrics has dramatically increased to help managers and leaders make better and faster decisions to improve results, to achieve growth and to win.

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    In 2003, the book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game was picked up by many leaders around the world in many professions and fields. The movie came out in 2011 and interest in the lessons and advice from the story expanded across private and public organizations looking for ways to attract, select, upgrade and retain talent. 

    RELATED: Get better at selling with these sales tips.

    From Challenge to Triumph
    There were several challenges that the team’s general manager in Moneyball, Billy Beane, faced in this true story that apply to leaders of many organizations. 
    Challenge No. 1: The reality of needing to rebuild the team after losing several high profile star talent to better contracts with more powerful teams.
    Challenge No. 2: Rebuilding that team with the constraints of a team owner in a small market with a tight budget. 
    Challenge No. 3: Thinking differently and creatively about how to be competitive against teams with more resources and more talent. 
    Challenge No. 4: Changing the fixed mindset, conventional wisdom and long-held beliefs and biases of many in the game. 

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    The new strategy and game plan Billy came up with to rebuild faced immediate pushback and strong resistance requiring his persistent selling to convince the manager, coaches, scouting staff, public and most importantly, players.

    Billy’s four keys to victory were based on a game plan and model his competitors were not using at the time.

    Billy’s First Key to Victory: The use of statistics and analytics to evaluate player’s performance and averages to identify undervalued attributes that fit his model.
    Billy’s Second Key to Victory: Making sure his model is implemented.
    Billy’s Third Key to Victory: Changing the team’s priorities to change and align behaviors.
    Billy’s Fourth Key to Victory: Not allowing the old methods and biases to interfere with or sabotage the model.

    RELATED: Read more columns from Wayne Bergman by clicking here.

    Billy was introduced to the use of statistics and analytics by Peter Brand. During one of the many conversations between the two of them, Peter told Billy: “Okay, people who run ball clubs, they think in terms of buying players. Your goal shouldn’t be to buy players. Your goal should be to buy wins and in order to buy wins, you need to buy your run.” 

    Conventional wisdom focused on individual stats like batting average, homeruns, RBI’s, slugging percentages and many other non-quantitative measures and beliefs. All good but not consistent across the line-up and the full roster. The focus here was consistency across the team’s roster.

    Billy’s new model was focused on filling the roster with players he could afford with the statistics that show they can consistently get on base, play fundamentals and help score more runs to beat the “better clubs.” An example stat the data analytics focused on: On base percentage formula includes hits + walks + hit by pitch, the three major activities that a batter can be measured on, and can work to improve, to get on base.

    From Baseball to Business

    So if business and sales are games and were to focus on metrics and statistics to grow sales, what would that look like? 
    It is proven that better data and better metrics help business leaders and managers make better decisions. Metrics and data help align people and provide clarity to the actions and desired results leader and owners expect from marketing and sales investments. Cold hard facts on performance helps managers target a specific need for coaching and training in order to improve individual performance (like patiently taking more walks, etc.) and overall results.

    As in the Moneyball example, a barrier or obstacle many businesses face to unlocking the full potential of KPI’s and Performance Based Metrics is conventional wisdom, organizational bias and an overall resistance to change the status quo. 

    What are the equivalent business stats or metrics you could use like “buying wins,” or “buying runs” and “on-base percentage?” Here are five areas you may want to invest time tracking and improving.

    Conversion Rate. As in the Moneyball model, it is not about depending on the “home run” hitter (Super Star Rain Maker) that makes the plan, it is the consistent and sustainable on base percentage of each sales person. The focus on metrics helps each member convert more and better deals to meet current and future revenue needs. Where could you increase conversion rates?

    Pipeline Velocity. How many, how fast and what are the sizes of the opportunities progressing through the stages of your sales pipeline to achieve your revenues cash needs? Each deal has a unique value and level of complexity based on the buying process of each customer. Your team needs to be managing the progress as opportunities are qualified, prioritized, converted and invoiced through the stages of your sales cycle. What could you do to increase velocity?

    Sales Cycle. How long does it take for an average sized sale to “run all the bases” to be counted as a “run?” Are all the steps, all the activities, in your sales process clear, understood and necessary? Your sales cycle can start from initial contact to realizing revenues and could include tracking to the cash being deposited in your bank account. Your sales cycle lines up with your weekly and monthly operations schedule and your financial cycle. It is true that you will win some deals and some deals will be lost, impacting your monthly forecast. Where could you shorten your sales cycle?

    Profitability. As in the Moneyball example, there is the reality of budgets and costs with every deal. Not all customer revenues are of equal value as measured by profit. There are costs to acquire a customer, costs to make the product/service, overhead to recover, and costs to serve a customer in order to realize the profits from revenues. How could you improve profitability of your major opportunities?

    New Customer Acquisition. Based on desired growth rate, retention rate of existing customers and loss/churn rate, how many new customers have to be attracted and converted to achieve goals? What do you need to do to attract and convert more new customers?

    So can any of this help your business grow sales? 

    Many leaders follow professional, Olympic and college sports because of the competition, the loyalty to the team or the social and entertainment aspects from investing time and energy with other fans. For business owners, leaders and managers, there continue to be valuable lessons from the strategies, training and player development, and roster management presented in examples like Moneyball.

    The principles of data analytics and statistics, accountability for executing models and processes, challenging and overcoming the “status quo” of conventional wisdom and changing mindsets are all consistent with what sustainable and healthy businesses need from their owners and sales leaders.

    Wayne Bergman is a business and executive coach and founder of Consistent Business Growth. Questions or comments about this piece? Email him directly at wayne@cbgrowth-gfm.com.


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    Next up: SAVE THE DATE: COSE Day at the Capitol on March 13, 2018

    SAVE THE DATE: COSE Day at the Capitol on March 13, 2018

    Reserve your “seat at the table” and participate in the political process by engaging Ohio’s policymakers and sharing your experiences at COSE Day at the Capitol on March 13, 2018 in Columbus.

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    The Greater Cleveland Partnership’s (GCP) advocacy team advocates on your behalf daily to ensure your voice is heard before government officials on matters that are important to you.  There is no substitute, however, for legislators having the opportunity to learn first-hand about the challenges you and your business face; which is why we are pleased to offer this opportunity to GCP/COSE member small business owners to travel to the Statehouse and participate in a day of briefings and dialogue with elected officials and thought-provoking guest speakers. 

    Transportation to and from Columbus, food, and refreshments are provided.  Attendees will be provided background materials on the issues and the legislators you will be meeting to make your experience enjoyable and easy.

    Mark your calendar for COSE Day at the Capitol on March 13, 2018. For more information email events@cose.org or call 216-592-2390.

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    Next up: Save the Date for COSE Day at the Capitol on March 13, 2018

    Save the Date for COSE Day at the Capitol on March 13, 2018

    Reserve your “seat at the table” and participate in the political process by engaging Ohio’s policymakers and sharing your experiences at COSE Day at the Capitol on March 13, 2018 in Columbus.

    Share
  • Email
  • Compass Payroll

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership’s (GCP) advocacy team advocates on your behalf daily to ensure your voice is heard before government officials on matters that are important to you.  There is no substitute, however, for legislators having the opportunity to learn first-hand about the challenges you and your business face; which is why we are pleased to offer this opportunity to GCP/COSE member small business owners to travel to the Statehouse and participate in a day of briefings and dialogue with elected officials and thought-provoking guest speakers. 

    Transportation to and from Columbus, food, and refreshments are provided.  Attendees will be provided background materials on the issues and the legislators you will be meeting to make your experience enjoyable and easy.

    Mark your calendar for COSE Day at the Capitol on March 13, 2018.  Additional details to come.

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    Next up: Say What? Why You Need to Tap into Voice Search

    Say What? Why You Need to Tap into Voice Search

    Search isn't just about typing something into Google anymore. Here's how to make sure your business is heard on voice search devices.

    “Ok Google” and “Alexa, what is…”.  These phrases are now part of the consumer decision making journey.  Consumers used to mainly leverage their eyes and search abilities to find businesses, but now their ears are part of the mix.  How can your small business leverage this new part of the marketing world?

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    Think of voice recognition has the “listening” part of search.  In the past, a customer may have just entered their question or search terms into the Google search box, but today they’re not only searching through the Google Search box but also vocally searching through products like Alex and Google Home.

    What do you need to keep in mind when building on this trend?

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    • Consider conversations when selecting keywords.  In the past, phrases and words were most likely used to find a business through search engines.  With the voice recognition technology, consumers are asking entire questions and elaborating on what they want to hear to get the exact answer on the first try.  They’re less likely to ask the same question again and more likely to assume the first answer is correct, which means you want your business to be the answer when asked.
    • Build on the customization of answers. Google Home is able to customize how it serves up its information to certain users, such as relaying information at a specific time or day. Map out how your business fits into your consumer’s day and include it into your voice recognition search strategy.
    • Don’t ignore your search strategy. Whatever Google search strategy you have Implemented for your business should tie into your voice recognition strategy.  They go hand in hand and often will overlap a lot.

     

    • Monitor your results. Pay attention to how voice search technology is driving traffic to your business and optimize accordingly.
    • Start now! It’s predicted that 50% of all search traffic will come from voice recognition. Don’t miss the boat!
    • Think local. Include phrases like nearby and close to as many people using search recognition technology will use those terms to find a local business. They’re looking for close proximity to their homes.

    Don’t worry if you haven’t jumped on the voice recognition trend yet, but analysts say this trend is here to stay which means it will soon become the norm for many consumers.  You still have time to develop a strategy before it’s too late!  Do you have a Google Home or Alexa at home?  Test it out with questions that would relate to your business and see which answers are given.  This can give you an idea of your direct competition when it comes to voice recognition technology. 

    Annie Pryatel is the owner of AMP Brand Studios. Learn more about how AMP is helping small businesses succeed by clicking here.


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    Next up: SBA Regulatory Reform Roundtable Coming to Cleveland

    SBA Regulatory Reform Roundtable Coming to Cleveland

    The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Office of Advocacy, which serves as an independent small business watchdog within the federal government, will be hosting an Ohio Regulatory Reform Roundtable in Cleveland next month.  To secure your seat at the SBA’s Cleveland roundtable on Thursday, August 3 beginning at 8:00 a.m. at the Hilton Downtown click here.

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    The purpose of the event is to help the SBA identify specific regulatory barriers to small business growth and assist federal agencies eliminate burdensome regulations.  Representatives of federal agencies and Congressional offices are expected to attend the roundtable.  Your presence, experience, and feedback are needed as it will be used by SBA’s Office of Advocacy to pursue reforms that will benefit the small business community.

     If you are unable to attend the roundtable on August 3, but would still like to share challenges your small business has related to federal regulatory issues, you may share your input here.

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    Next up: Second Time Around: 6 Tips to Re-purpose Your Content

    Second Time Around: 6 Tips to Re-purpose Your Content

    Don't post it and forget it. Give your blogs, videos, photos and other items you worked so hard to create new life! Here are six ways to re-purpose your content.

    Quality over quantity is always important when creating content, whether it's a digital ad, a blog post, or a social media post. Many times, as a small business, you're rushing to get something—anything—up to communicate your message. Your message goes live. It serves its purpose, and you move on.

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    But did you know there is a way to recycle your content? Content optimization will save you time, money, and allow for your best content to work its hardest for your business. Here are six tips to give your old content new life.

    Tip No. 1: Monitor your content performance to improve second runs. Social media channels, such as Facebook, allow you to look at your highest performing content each month. Evaluate your content monthly and plan to build on your highest performing content.  Reuse that content and make changes based on your observations in future months.

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    Tip No. 2: Stick with evergreen content. Evergreen content means that content can be used at any time.  For example, instead of positioning your product in holiday photography, consider seasonal photography to lengthen the time you can use that photo. Your post can still be holiday focused, but your main assets for the post (the photos) will be able to easily be repurposed.

    Tip No. 3: Create an "always on" piece of content to keep the message going.  Using everything you know about your content performance, create several pieces of content that can be repurposed during low seasons or to fill gaps when other content isn't relevant. Keeping content in your back pocket helps to keep your digital presence strong.

    Tip No. 4: Optimize content for changes in search terms. As the years go by, search terms might change. Be prepared to update your content, especially your website content, to stay up to speed with the latest keywords.

    Tip No. 5: Optimize content based on the user journey. Many times, marketers will look at a piece of content when in fact it's better to evaluate all the content involved in the entire user journey to keep the customer acquisition flowing.  Looking at the whole user journey will not only help you correctly optimize the content on that path but may help you optimize the entire digital user journey resulting in a better ROI for your business.

    Tip No. 6: Consider an optimization tool to help keep you on track. There are many tools out there that can help collect the optimization data for you and analyze it. Programs such as Sprout Social, Hubspot and Salesforce are great places to start depending on your business's needs.

    Challenge yourself in 2018 to create less content and create more good content.  You may be surprised at how much your marketing improves and how much less work you need to do to get your message out there!

    Annie Pryatel is the owner of AMP Brand Studios. Learn more about how AMP is helping small businesses succeed by clicking here. 
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