The 2015 World Series features a matchup of gritty teams as the New York Mets will take on the Kansas City Royals in a best of seven series. For the Mets, it is their first time back to the World Series since 2000 while the Royals make a return trip after losing last season to the San Francisco Giants. It is a classic matchup that also sheds light on some classic lessons used in sales.
The last World Series win for the New York Mets came against the Boston Red Sox in 1986 so a championship has been a long time in the making. Heading into this season, the Mets were not a favorite to even make the playoffs. And their team payroll was not even in the top half of Major League Baseball. The Mets' $101,409,244 million payroll ranks just 21st out 30 MLB teams, but it is proof that championships cannot always be bought.
The Mets success all starts with Matt Harvey, a 26-year old pitcher, whose salary is just $614,000 this season. That figure dims in comparison to the average MLB salary of $4 million. Harvey will pitch at least two games in the World Series and the strength of his arm could be a decisive factor as it was throughout the postseason.
The Mets No.2 starter for the World Series is 27-year old Jacob DeGrom, who was paid a 2015 salary of just $556,875. His 3-0 record in October was an extreme bargain at that price. Those two young pitchers have powered the Mets to this point and are the prime examples that a team of underpaid overachievers can compete with the very best.
On offense, the Mets have turned to second baseman Daniel Murphy for postseason heroics as he hit home runs in five straight playoff games. The Mets will also look to outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to provide a spark, but there is no denying that pitching is what has carried them this far.
The Mets are a perfect example that successful sales teams do not have to rely on one superstar salesperson. In fact, sales reps who have a history of exceeding quotas do not always make the best teammates. One of the reasons for that is that they are more concerned with the actual sale than building relationships.
Furthermore, superstar sales reps are often masters at manipulation. That could lead to a manipulation of internal resources that would otherwise be devoted to other team members. Superstar sales reps also have an uncanny ability to manipulate managers. A team of sales reps all devoted to working towards a similar goal may be a much better alternative than relying on one superstar sales rep to always hit a home run. Each team member playing a role is often a much better alternative.
The Royals last won a World Series in 1985 when Hall of Fame third basemen George Brett led Kansas City past the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. This year's team has a different dynamic. While the Mets have relied on dominant pitching, the Royals are a gritty team that has relied upon its hitting. Kansas City hitters have struck out fewer times than any other American League team this season. In the ALCS, the Royals averaged more than six runs per game. Their formula has been simple; put the ball in play.
That is evident at the start of every game as shortstop Alcides Escobar is not a typical leadoff hitter. He swings away and rarely waits for a walk. That led to an outstanding ALCS performance in which Escobar wound up going 11-for-23 and earning MVP honors.
Escobar's approach is shared by the rest of the lineup, although Kansas City hitters are not trying to drive every pitchout if the ballpark. On the season, only six Major League teams hit fewer than the Royals' 139 total home runs. No Royal had more than 22 home runs as designated hitter Kendrys Morales and third baseman Mike Moustakas were tied for the team lead with 22 each.
The Kansas City hitting philosophy has been to put the ball in play and try to make something happen. It has worked out well as The Royals were second in the American League in hits this season.
Sales teams can also use the Royals hitting philosophy as a pathway to success. In sales, the more leads that are developed, the greater the chance of success. However, finding new customers does not happen without understanding customers. So it pays to do a fair amount of market research before embarking on those sales calls, e-mail blasts and face-to-face interactions. Like the Royals, don't be afraid to swing away for a sale. The more prospects you reach out to, the more likely you are to close a sale.
Another important lesson is that sales teams should not be afraid to fail. That will help them when it's time to close. There is much that can be learned through failure, so sales managers who use that as a teaching tool are bound to see more success from their teams in the future. The Royals are unafraid of striking out and confident sales reps can handle themselves the same way.
A Classic Matchup
The 2015 World Series really is a classic baseball matchup between a team that has been powered by dominant pitching against a team that relies on making contact when up at that plate. It is an example of the pitcher vs. the hitter. Despite all the innovations the game has seen, this is classic baseball the way it has been played for generations.
Great sales reps can also revert to a classic approach that has worked for generations. No matter what you are selling, communication is key. Sales is a people business and if you are unable to communicate with people, strikeouts are inevitable. Focusing on effective and constant communication has led to sales success for generations and remains an effective tool in the present day.