Developing a High-Performance Sales Team Using Tactics from Moneyball

Sales Coaching | Managing Performance

You don’t have to be a baseball fan to enjoy the movie Moneyball with Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill.

The movie is an account of the Oakland Athletics baseball team's 2002 season and their general manager Billy Beane's attempts to assemble a competitive team on a minimal budget. In the film, Beane (Brad Pitt) and assistant general manager Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) used sophisticated analytics to break the game of baseball down into leading indicators and metrics that can predict success (in this case, scoring runs and winning games).

Moneyball is about managing to leading indicators

The key to their approach is to look at the desired outcome and work back from there. Want to win more games? Score more runs. Want to score more runs? Get players on base more often because that increases their chances of getting into a scoring position.

Then, they analyzed every way players can get to first base and which ones do it more often. They identified which of these indicators you can measure and attempt to influence.

They carefully detailed players’ abilities to get to first base, whether by walking, bunting, or hitting singles, because once they are on base, it doesn’t matter how they got there. They have significantly increased their chances of moving into scoring position and ultimately scoring a run.

So, how does this relate to sales?

In sales, first base is equivalent to booking the first meeting

Booking the first meeting is equivalent to getting on first base. It greatly increases your chance of moving into a scoring position (finding an opportunity and submitting a proposal) and ultimately getting a run (winning the deal).

What can you do to increase your chances of success?

So how do you increase your chances of getting that meeting? Do the little things that increase your chance of success:

  • Identify the Ideal Client Profile to call and don’t waste time on unqualified leads
  • Use a referral if possible to get an introduction
  • Do your research to be more relevant to that prospect
  • Highlight a pain point that your prospect can appreciate
  • Share a story about how you helped someone like them
  • Consider sending a personal video to cut through the noise.
And as a sales leader, you might want to adopt a Billy Beane approach to analyzing your sales team’s performance and ability to book meetings. Consider:
  • Who’s doing well booking meetings and why?
  • Are you tracking every attempt and every first meeting scheduled?
  • Are you setting expectations with your team about how important it is to book that first meeting?
  • Are you celebrating successes and reinforcing what’s working?
  • Are you tracking and managing first meetings as a leading indicator?
First meetings are one of the most important metrics you can measure, and it’s a milestone that’s fairly easy to track.

Sales teams spend a lot of time just swinging the bat - but maybe not considering how they can increase their chances of connecting with the ball (or even getting to first base on a walk).

Maybe it’s time to play the sales equivalent of Moneyball.

Learn how to transition star sales reps into high-performing sales managers

About Ray Makela

Ray Makela is CEO and Managing Director at Sales Readiness Group (SRG). He oversees all client engagements as well as serves as a senior facilitator on sales management, coaching, negotiation and sales training workshops. Ray has over 20 years of management, consulting, and sales experience and writes frequently on best practices for coaching and developing sales teams.