Golf or Baseball: Which Team Are You Coaching?

A lazy Sunday in our favorite chair, nodding off periodically, perhaps a little snooze interruption for the clapping associated with a made putt. Ahhh, golf on Sunday as part of the TV show audience. Of course, the amount of intestinal fortitude, concentration and physical endurance of those top golfers is not visible to us as we nod off from our chair. Their composure and focus gets in the way. They just do the job and debrief with the coach later. Perhaps a day or two practicing on the putting green; some sessions at the range working on the weight shift of their backswing. The coach deals with the many dimensions of one golfer; fine tuning emotional control, physical strength, flexibility and getting all of the pieces to function together round after round. One person, one set of variables, one finely tuned shot after the other.

Nine players, two teams, starters, clean-up, designated hitters. Sure, baseball is slow enough to put us to sleep on a lazy Sunday, but the complexity of the coordination between positions, players and teams can make for some pretty exciting periods in a game or series. The coaching is constant – signs to the pitcher from the catcher, signs to the runners from the base coaches, calls between outfielders covering large expanses of grass. Every player has a job and every player has a backup job. When all goes perfectly, the team functions as one; creating double plays, diving catches, and best of all, recovery of an error by the backup.

When you look at the structure of your sales team, do you see a team of exceptional golfers; each member possessing the full range of skills necessary to carry out cold calls through PO receipt and service-after-the-sale? Or do you see a coordinated team of players with different skills – inside sales, field sales, hunters, farmers?

There is no right or wrong here, simply a reveal of the structure that you believe that you are managing. The marketing, sales and customer service silos from the good old days are gone and have been replaced by coordinated, fluid execution from initial contact through service-after-the-sale. We have all become Amazon consumers and we expect all of our shopping/buying experiences to approach the seemingly simple and effortless display and execution we find when we buy a new set of golf shoes online. As such, all aspects of the sale must be coached, measured, reported and accountable to your organization’s revenue growth and retention goals.

Where does your team need coaching? Where does your team need support? Where does the support fit on the team? Most important of all, how will you measure the team’s performance – individually and together? There has been much discussion over the past few years about commission and compensation for the different roles on the sales team. Although there isn’t one common answer, it is clear that the trend is toward incentives for each phase of the sales process and KPI’s to support them.

Like golf, perhaps your organization will function better with fewer, more strategically placed opportunities that can be nurtured and coaxed through a longer sales cycle with close attention paid to each step along the way. Or, maybe like baseball, where getting more deals into the pipeline knowing that a fair percentage won’t make it through is the better fit.
Fewer strokes, better on-green-percentage, fewer errors, better on-base percentage, interesting that we mock the announcers that say “to win this ball game, the team just needs more runs.”