July 05, 2006

How the Boston Red Sox and Chocolate Cake can Improve Your Business

Well, I’ll bet you didn’t know that studying baseball or baking would help improve your sales results.

(This article is 863 words - approx. 5 minutes of reading.)

If you want something to materialize or to happen, there are standard steps you take, depending on what it is. For example, if you want a delicious, moist chocolate cake, there is a specific recipe you follow.

World's Yummiest Chocolate Cake
2 cups of flour, 3 eggs, 2/3 cups sugar, ¾ cup chocolate pieces, 1 stick of softened butter, melt chocolate in double boiler over hot (not boiling) water, pre-heat oven to 375o, bake for 25 minutes, cool cake on a rack for 30 minutes, etc., etc.

To reach your objective of having a delicious, moist chocolate cake, your action plan will be to “execute the cake recipe”.

Another example (thanks to the marketing guru, Robert Middleton): take the Boston Red Sox. (No offense New York fans. I’m an equal opportunity example user. We’ll give you guys the air time next.) The objective is to win the baseball game.

The “recipe”, if you will, or ingredients of a win are:

  • Hit the ball where no one is, throw the ball to where someone is, catch the ball, preferably before it hits the ground, run the bases really fast before anyone can catch you with the ball, etc.

    If the Red Sox’s goal is to win a baseball game, their action plan must include the above mechanics.

    A recipe or formula is somewhat akin to an action plan you might create to reach a business objective. Does this make sense?

    Taking the baseball analogy one step further; just as the formula to win the game specifies the mechanics / the actions needed, the formula also specifies the order in which each action should be executed to achieve optimal results. In order for the Red Sox to achieve the intended result – a WIN - there is a specific order of execution that must be followed. How about going up and running the bases sliding into home and then picking up the bat to get ready for the pitch. The mechanics of the game, Hit the ball, throw the ball, catch the ball, run the bases, etc. must occur in a specific order.

    As for the cake, it goes without saying that you can’t bake the flour, eggs and sugar mixture before mixing in the melted chocolate. You might end up with something you could call a cake, but it won’t be the chocolate cake of your dreams.

    The same goes for selling your services. The includes:
    • Defining the prospects – (Get them on the bench)
    • Getting their attention – (At home plate & up to bat)
    • Developing a relationship – (Home to 1st Base – Permission)
    • Developing an understanding of their needs (Home to 1st Base – Qualification)
    • Introducing your work, the benefits you provide and what sets you apart (2nd Base)
    • Formal and customized presentation of your solutions to solve their needs (2nd to 3rd Base)
    • Agreement to work together - Negotiating a win-win working arrangement (3rd Base into Home for the win)
    • Providing the service (Into the Dugout)
    • Ongoing client care, etc., etc. (Dugout – back to running the appropriate bases as needed for cross-selling, up-selling, referral opportunities, etc.)

    Just like in baseball, there is an order in which these steps must be executed to see good sales results. One of the primary problems I see many professionals make is that they “skip bases”. They try to move a prospect from the initial meeting (Home) to a detailed discussion of why they and/or their services are great (2nd Base) without gaining permission or qualifying the prospect appropriately.

    For example, you meet someone at a Chamber After Hours networking event and after only a brief time (even if over a couple of separate meetings) you give them a “brain dump” on your services.
    You may have exchanged cards but it might likely be a while before you meet with them one-on-one and a longer while before you do any business with them.

    Why? It’s usually because you rattled on about how great your services are without taking the time to learn about this person or the problems they might be having. Yes, you must remember that a prospect is a person with their own personal quirks, ego needs, and challenges. We can get so wrapped up in “our service” and “our need” to get new clients that we forget that “little” fact.

    In the end it is not about how much we know or how great our service is. It’s about how we, as individuals, can help our prospect achieve their objectives, solve their problem, reduce their pain - or all of the above. People do business with people they like and trust. They don’t do business with a service or product.

    Keep this in mind, don’t skip the bases and you’ll see a vast improvement in your sales results and in your business. and remember; Be BOLD. It takes discipline and it all starts with a VISION.

    Bold Vision’s program, Promotion Action, is about helping service professionals develop and implement their own formula to get prospects to the bench and then effectively and efficiently move them around the bases.

    Posted by Lynnelle Bianco at 11:26 AM

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