Is there someone on your sales operations team that grew up loving baseball as a kid? I’m here to say that loving baseball is something you should screen for when hiring for your sales operation team.

Wait – what? What does baseball have to do with better sales management?

This is more of a hypothesis than a conclusion founded in data. But in a world where data-driven cultures are a point of emphasis in modern companies and salesforce reporting is an obsessive focus, having agility with numbers needs to be a prerequisite for your sales operations team.

Screening for this trait in your sales ops employees can take many forms, but looking back at my own personal history, those of my colleagues, and trends in other industries, I think loving baseball, and specifically loving baseball statistics, is a great way to screen for  data-minded sales operations talent.

Look at Nate Silver and his blog on the New York Times website. He got his start writing online about baseball statistics.

Look at the prominence Moneyball the book and movie have received.

Look at the dominance Fantasy Sports plays in our leisure time. The owner of the Red Sox, John Henry, made his money investing in a data-driven manner, and when he started playing fantasy baseball in his spare time, he cleaned up in his league because he used advanced statistics pioneered by writers and analysts such as Bill James.

Baseball as a sport lends itself to easy analysis using statistics. And with more and more access to data via the internet and more computational power to analyze that data, there has been a massive sea-change in how baseball professionals (like general managers) and fans alike can understand what makes a successful baseball player. Baseball statistics have taken massive leaps forward since my childhood when simply batting averages and home run tallies were the measure of a hitter.

Today, obsessive fans of baseball have hundreds of different metrics tracked and discussed when analyzing their favorite sport. Today, if you are a kid who loves baseball, it is easy to devote hours to improving your statistical analysis skills doing something you love, i.e. obsessing over baseball. More and more, if kids devote their energy to following baseball, they are devoting their energy to developing statistical analysis skills — the kinds of skills you want in your sales operations team.

For your team, you want someone who loves working with data. More likely than not, being a baseball fan these days means that you’ve chosen to dive into mounds (no pun intended) of data.

So it is easy for someone to fake an interest in being “the numbers person,” so look for someone who has proven they’re a numbers person in the way they devote their leisure time to statistics . . . with baseball.

Want all the benefits of a baseball loving data analyst, without all the cost?

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Photo courtesy of Tage Olsin

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