April 10th, 2014 | by

By Nancy Nardin

Major league baseball season is off with a crack of the bat and people are gathering with lawn chairs to observe spring training for the minor leagues. This is the time when team managers will get their first glimpse into how well their newly recruited players will fair. Perhaps it’s a good time to analyze how your salespeople scout for new customers. What would happen if you really dove into the numbers and looked at the process in a new way?

That’s the underlying question the Oakland A’s asked and answered, the result of which was portrayed in Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball.   DiscoverOrg recently asked me to present a webinar on the topic of Moneyball and how it can be applied to Sales. You can listen to the recording of “Moneyball for Sales: How to Re-Engineer the Sales Number’s Game” here.

The sub-title of the book is “The art of winning an unfair game.” It was unfair because the A’s budget was so minuscule that they simply couldn’t compete for players using the same scouting approach as other teams. They had to find a way to even the playing field.

In the webinar, I argue that you can’t compete in today’s world of Sales using the same number’s game that worked in the past. That our game is ripe for a change and those who make the change first, will reap the rewards just like the Oakland A’s did.

In order for the A’s to identify under-valued players they couldn’t use the same scouting methods that everyone else used. They had to ask the question in a different way.

Were they really after players? Or were they after wins?

The two questions are actually very different. The first question puts the focus on potential while the second puts the focus on outcomes. The A’s were able to re-engineer recruiting and increase their wins because they identified the only outcome that mattered in the end – “on-base” percentage. The outcome equivalent to on-base for Sales is “engagement.”  In the modern view of selling it’s not the activity level (or at-bats) that matters but whether you’re making every activity count.

The stage for Moneyball was set with three important elements:

  1. An impetus for change
  2. A reason for doing something NOW
  3. A manager with a deep desire to make it happen

I presented a number of reasons why the sales game needs to change and for making those changes now. One big one is that 50-66% of the decision process is completed before a buyer talks with a salesperson. That means we have less chance to engage with buyers and influence the sale than ever before. In the face of that alarming trend, quotas are going up—a lot. According to CSO Insights, around 35% of companies planned to raise quota this year by 10% or more.

The traditional way to ensure sales teams hit target is to insist that salespeople up their activity level. That they call more people, go on more sales calls, and submit more proposals. This begs two questions, how are they going to get more done and what will be the outcome of the increased activities?

The average salesperson spends just 35% of her time talking with a prospect. Other non-selling activities occupy the balance of her time. Those activities are things like logging sales calls, updating forecasts, sending and responding to emails, and coordinating meetings. If we’re to insist on more sales activities, we’ll need to free up her time by improving the efficiencies of non-selling tasks (or eliminating them altogether).

Increasing the amount of time spent selling can have an enormous impact on revenue as you’ll see and hear in the webinar. To change the sales game, you need more time for engaging with prospects as well as a higher hit-rate for each engagement.

Listen to the free webinar recording below to hear more about:

  • The biggest problem with the number’s game as it exists today.
  • More statistics and trends that strongly signal the need for change
  • The tools to help you execute a game-changing strategy without breaking the bank

Whether or not you’re able to play the Sales game in a new way will come down to one thing in the end– just as it did for the A’s; do you have a deep desire to make it happen and a commitment to see it through.

Increase your engagement percentage with DiscoverOrg for IT Sales. Dramatically decrease your time spent researching prospects and spend more time actually speaking to customers. Try us out for free! Send us your top two target accounts and we’ll send you the org charts!


Contact data and scoops for the right buyer — at the right time.



How much is bad lead data costing you? What’s it worth to fix it?


Henry Schuck
About the author

Henry Schuck

Henry Schuck is the CEO of DiscoverOrg, an 8-time Fortune 5000 company, which he co-founded at the age of 23. He has extensive experience managing the sales and marketing activities of fast-growing information technology data companies.