April means that…baseball is back! After the long, miserable winter, the return of America’s national pastime heralds a hope for spring. Amid all the water-cooler talk at your office about tape-measure home runs and pennant races, pitch counts and walk-off hits, the return of baseball is a good opportunity to also sprinkle in a little sales lesson for your reps:
The value of the sales strike zone and how to leverage it for predictive opportunity analysis.
Think like a batter
Stay away from pitches on the corners and on the inside
Don’t swing at anything that you have to reach across the plate for
Look for pitches right down the middle, over the meaty part of the plate
Makes sense, right? The strike zone – a conceptual prism over the home plate that roughly comprises the area above a batter’s knees and below his batting elbow – is designed not only to give pitches a target to throw at for strikes, but also represents a guideline for batters. In that sense, the sales strike zone is also a similar guideline for reps.
“Swinging at pitches” in your optimal sales strike zone will give you a better chance of scoring a hit, or even a home run.
Turn to your historical data
In order to determine your strike zone, you must first have the requisite historical data in order to map out what optimal opportunities truly look like. While there are several factors that can contribute to the likelihood of an opportunity winning (or not), the two key ones are:
Age – how long has the opportunity been in your pipeline / various sales funnel stages
Value – how much is this opportunity worth, compared to your typical Average Sales Price?
The key is to find the historical win rate on all of your opportunities, and then measure them against the aforementioned key factors. Doing so will allow you to plot out a viable sales strike zone that aids your sales reps in locating their “sweet spot” of opportunities.
Look at this sample sales strike zone report above. The sweet spot for opportunity value is between $1k and $10k, while the sweet spot for opportunity age is less than 35 days. Reps working on opportunities within this confluence of the two key factors can be confident that they will close-won.
Sales is very much a numbers game. Yet, reps have limited time and resources to work with, necessitating careful planning and making sure they don’t waste “at-bats”. Chasing down opportunities that are on the outside corners of the plate of their own sales strike zone – in this case, opportunities worth more than $10k and older than 70 days – is a huge waste of time. They won’t likely close these opportunities, and would be better off expending their limited calories elsewhere on other opportunities.
Mickey Mantle once had an 0-20 hitting slump – he still recovered in time to lead the 1960 New York Yankees to the World Series. Willie Mays found himself in an 0-24 slump in 1965 – he was named Most Valuable Player later that year.
The point here is that slumps happen. Yet, by tightening up your batting stance (working on your sales tactics) and analyzing your strike zone to stop wasting at-bats, they snapped out of their slumps. Your reps can too, using the sales strike zone for predictive opportunity analysis.