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Hitting Singles

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WOW – it’s been a long time since I wrote something.  BAD JOEY!  I guess that tells you how busy IBM is keeping me, which all things considered is a good thing.  I always say “better busy than bored” and that is still true.  I just need to invent more time I suppose.

Anyway, I wanted to write just a little bit about a philosophical debate I’ve been having at a few different levels, and have had at a few different times.  I didn’t coin the term, so I’m not taking any credit here – I just subscribe to this approach.  It’s called “Hitting Singles” and without getting too deep about it, it is something that can be applied in many different ways.

So here’s what it means.  The easiest way to describe it is to call out it’s opposite – which is the grand slam, or home run even.  The two are very different, obviously, but both are positive.  Just different levels of positive.  If you get a single in baseball, you run to first base, give a high five or get patted on the back, and life is good.  Can’t complain there.  However, if you hit a home run, then you round the bases, anyone else on base scores, as do you.  It’s a hugely positive thing to do, many more high fives are had, and maybe you even make the ESPN Top 10 clips that night.

So if they are both positive things, then what’s my point you are probably asking.  The point here is really about odds.  You are WAY more likely to hit a single than you are a home run.  I’m not going to bore you with baseball stats, but I think it’s pretty obvious that if you were betting on a player at bat right now, the odds of them hitting a single are much, much higher than of him hitting a home run.  It’s just the reality of the game.

Back to “what’s my point” and “how do I apply this theory”.  I apply this theory in sales – and that could be selling ANYTHING – from widgets to sponsorships.  I am not in a direct sales role, but with my non-profit work I spend a lot of time selling sponsorships.  To translate this into hard numbers, the theory that I subscribe to is that selling five $1 items is better than selling one $5 item.  I have obviously over-simplified that with the numbers, but it’s a bit of an argument on quantity of deals overall.

Specific example:  a couple of the non-profit groups that I work with are trying to sell sponsorships to their “events”.   I would argue that selling ten $500 sponsorships is easier and more beneficial to the event than selling one $5000 sponsorship.  It’s brings in a quantity of sponsors, which is generally a good thing for an event.  In addition the cost of sale is lower and the sales cycle is much shorter.  All of which are positive things.

What frustrates me is the amount of time that I see groups like this chasing the big deal – or going for the “home run” – that may or may not ever happen.  Sure, it’s a huge win if it does happen, but how much time and money is spent chasing that big win that could have been applied towards many smaller, and I would argue more likely to succeed, deals.

I’ve seen this theory applied in for profit as well.  People spending all sorts of time chasing that elusive huge deal so they can make the big commission and buy that boat or whatever.  I wouldn’t say that is necessarily time “wasted” – I just think there are better ways to spend that time.

I’d really be curious on your thoughts on this topic.  I’ve had this debate with many high ranking folks, and pitched it a few different times with varying amount of success.  Am I crazy here?  Does any of this make sense to you?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section if you don’t mind.  I’m REALLY curious on what you have to say here.

 

Joe



  • De-risking through singles is an excellent strategy and long term much more fruitful than swinging for the fences. As you said, this remains the same whether it is in a non-profit or for profit. Great post!

  • Eric V

    A race is won with a countless number of small strides, not giant mile long leaps. I think keeping consistent singles and going for a home run when you get a generous soft pitch is the smart plan.

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