I don't know much about baseball. But I do know that it is an incredibly intricate, complicated and tough sport. Watching my 9-year old son, Wyatt try to get his first hit in live pitch baseball really drove it home. And getting a hit is a lot like getting a sale.
Baseball legend Ted Williams said it best: "Hitting a baseball -- I've said it a thousand times -- is the single most difficult thing to do in sport." The reasons are numerous-speed and angle of the pitch, mechanics of the swing, the thoughts rolling around in your head and the fact that its impossible for a person to see the ball once it gets close to the plate.
Poor Wyatt, he is learning this first hand. "I just can't get a hit," he says. At first he figured it was a lost cause. But with a little encouragement he started practicing. "Getting at his bat." He started to learn that hitting a ball with a bat is one of those things that isn't as simple as it seems. After a week or two of encouragement, he finally started asking me when we were going to practice -- a great sign.
Sales is a lot like hitting a ball. Seems pretty simple. But, oh the variables of a deal. Selling is the toughest thing to do in business, otherwise people would be lined up to do it. Add to that the fact that when you get close to ink, its hard to tell what is really going on behind the scenes and you can see why most people don't have the stomach for sales. You just have to make your best educated guess-like where to position the bat to hit a ball you can't see all the way to the plate.
The variables can be endless can't they? In having the pleasure of leading a sales team for a while, I have seen lots of rookies step up to the plate. I have also seen lots of slumps. The new kids who make it take a workman like approach. They actively seek information and aren't afraid to get up to the plate and swing away until they get it right. Those are the people a sales leader wants to coach. Put in the effort, and little things will happen, until you finally get a single, a double, a home run.
The salespeople who don't make it were those who make excuses and used their lack of early success as a reason to be afraid of the ball. Truth is no matter how hard they were coached it wasn't going to help unless they were bought in. It wasn't going to help unless they tried harder than the coach and the other members of the team.
If you are new to the game of sales do everything you can to learn and keep swinging. And if you are in a slump sit down with your coach to analyze bad habits you may have fallen into or adjust your swing just like they do in the big leagues.
Last week, Wyatt finally got two singles and actually scored a run. He keeps swinging and I know the home run will come.