I’m a huge baseball fan.
Ever since I was about 8 or 9 years old I have loved the game of baseball, mainly because as an introverted kid it was the only game I could practise all alone for hours on end. I must have driven my mother crazy tossing a tennis ball against the side of the house practising my pitching and fielding, every day all summer long! I was never much of a hitter, mostly because you need two kids to practise that and like I said, I was an introvert. But I could pick-it with the best of them! Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Fernandez had nothing on me.
I think in part it was my love of baseball that helped set me up for a career in sales.
You see baseball is a game of failure. It’s the only major sport where you can fail more than 70% of the time and still be considered a superstar. There is hardly a pro-ballplayer alive who wouldn’t be satisfied with a .300 batting average over the course of a season. In sales you can fail upwards of 90% of the time and still be considered a superstar in your chosen field. At the end of the day in sales as in baseball it’s all about playing the percentages.
A few weeks ago I heard former major leaguer and colour commentator for the Toronto Blue Jays, Pat Tabler comment that just about every ball player at some point in their career needs to learn the meaning of the phrase “Try Easy”. Tabler was a member of the 1992 World Series Champion Blue Jays. He was a career .282 hitter, who over the course of 12 years in the majors hit only 47 home runs. He didn’t have a lot of power but in baseball terms, he was consistent. But he failed nearly 72% of the time and almost never hit the ball more than 300 feet.
According to Tabler, the phrase “Try Easy” is a reminder that baseball is a game of percentages. If you’re patient and keep doing the work sooner or later you will get an opportunity to contribute. Sooner or later, the pitcher will throw a strike right down Broadway, or hang a curveball. Sooner or later, those line drives will drop in the gap. Sooner or later, if you stay patient, stay alert and keep swinging, good things happen.
That’s what it’s like in sales too. On average I reach out and touch 40 people a day, existing clients, new prospects, whatever. That translates into one appointment and I generally sell on every fourth appointment. Your industry may be different but the concept is the same. You have to consistently do whatever it takes to be successful. You don’t need to try hard to close every sale, that doesn’t work. Try easy, because every no gets you one step closer to yes.
Sooner or later somebody’s going to hang one.
Watch this video. It’s is possibly the best clutch at bat in baseball history. You can’t get more pressure packed than this. It’s Game six of the 1993 World Series, bottom of the 9th, down by a run, one man on and facing the best closer in the game. Listen to the commentator at 0:55, the batter Joe Carter is 0 for his last 7 at bats, (failing more than 70% of the time) but he hangs in there, he waits, he tries easy.
What happens next still gives me goose bumps 20 years after I first watched it live. This is the stuff legends are made of…