What Baseball Means for Sales: Getting the Pitch Over the Plate

Baseball season opened on April 3rd and at the Princess House Taunton, Massachusetts headquarters location, Red Sox ’17 pennants are sprouting like spring flowers. As a leading direct selling company empowering entrepreneurs to own their own Princess House business by sharing our amazing products, we try not to use the word “pitch,” but the process of selling does share some similarities to its baseball synonym.

Prepare and Practice

Baseball pitchers make what they do on the mound look easy, but dedicated practice and preparation are essential. The same is true for sales presentations. It’s as important to know in advance each individual customer you are approaching, as it is for pitchers to know the batters they are facing. It’s also key to prepare materials that are tailored to what needs to be communicated about a product or service, but also to be flexible in the presentation once it’s in progress. Pitchers may think they’re going to throw a fast ball, but if the catcher signals a slider, that’s what he throws. Salespeople, however, should never throw a prospect a “curve ball!” Like major league pitchers, sales people need to practice their “pitch,” and using video is also an excellent way to review your “game” and make sure your wind up will be a closer.

The 3 C’s of Pitching

Youth baseball coaches often talk about the 3 C’s of pitching – not to be confused with the 4C’s which are of course, about a different kind of “diamond.” The 3 C’s are concentration, confidence and courage.

Concentration is an art. It isn’t easy to do what Kevin Costner’s character did in the baseball movie For the Love of the Game, when he stood on pitcher’s mound and tried to “clear the mechanism,” blocking out everything around him to totally concentrate on each pitch. Be totally focused on the customer, the product and the sales process, and don’t let the mind wander or be distracted by any other sights and sounds.

Confidence is defined as “the feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.” When you’ve prepared, studied and practiced, you can stand tall behind your product, service and the company you represent.  Ever see a baseball player slump unenthusiastically into the batter’s box? No.  So, always bring your boldest self to the table.

Courage joins confidence in helping those in sales professions be successful. That means don’t settle, don’t give in and don’t give up.

Recovering after Falling Behind

When a baseball pitcher has thrown three “balls” and only one “strike,” he has fallen behind in the count. The usual strategy is for the next pitch to be a fastball, but in sales – as in baseball – that isn’t always the best idea. The objective is to always keep a prospect eagerly anticipating what you will say next, and to listen to them.  A fastball or hard sell won’t necessarily get the job done. More importantly, keep the conversation about your product or service moving ahead and focused on meeting the customer’s needs. Provide additional details to the customers that may surprise (and delight!) them. Bring in some personal anecdotes to keep them engaged and you may find yourself coming back from behind.

Step off the Mound

Ever see a pitcher step off the mound for seemingly no reason? Often it’s because he needs to take a deep breath and refocus. In a stressful sales environment, taking a break from the discussion can help make it more fruitful, and/or allows for a reset. Step away from the conference table and offer your customers the coffee or water you should always have on hand. Then, when you sit down and get back to work, you’ll find yourself more in control of the “game.”

It Ain’t Over ‘Til it’s Over

The baseball legend Yogi Berra said many things, but one of his most quotable quotes was, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” What he meant was that until the last out of a baseball game, there is always a chance to win. The same wisdom applies to sales. As long as you and the customer are listening and engaging with one another in a conversation about the product or service, there is a chance to make a sale.

If at the end of the interaction, there’s no sale or deal, do what baseball players do. Go to the locker room, review the game tape and adjust. The great thing about baseball, and also holds true for sales, was said long ago by Hall of Famer Bob Feller, who began his pitching career in 1936: “Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day.”

Connie Tang is President and CEO of Princess House, a Boston-area based premier direct selling and business opportunity company offering exclusive products for cooking, dining and entertaining. Scroll down for a more detailed bio.

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