Fixing a Throwback Problem


Wiffle Ball (backyard baseball) is a real love of mine.  A plastic bat, 2 or 3 players, 6 to 8 Wiffle balls, a homerun fence about 70 feet away and you are good to go.  

 Unless you have pet peeves.  And I do.

One of which is this; When you are pitching to the other team or player, the least you should expect after throwing all the balls in, is that all the balls get thrown back somewhere remotely close to you.   For 30 years and thousands of games, this has been a problem.     


Because no matter who you play with from young kids to your adult friends, you are liable to get balls thrown back to you that are 10 feet left, 10 feet right, 10 feet short or 10 feet over your head. 

It slows down the game and frankly drives me insane.

So until a few weeks ago my effort to fix this problem was to progressively ask, then beg, then whine, then complain and then scream for everyone to please try and throw the balls back at least close to me, the pitcher. 

It didn’t work.  Balls were thrown back any which way (including the dreaded “soccer kick” and “plastic bat golf swing” of the balls back to the mound).

About 4 weeks ago it dawned on me.  I put a little plastic bucket at my feet when I pitched (see picture above of actual bucket in my backyard) and proclaimed new rules that an automatic run would score if upon the throwback to the mound, the ball landed in the bucket.   

It’s a rare moment when a ball actually lands or bounces into the bucket (it’s only 6 inches deep) so you’re not changing the outcome of any game and throwing the balance of the world out of whack but since then, almost every ball gets close to the bucket and hence, the pitcher.    Now everyone uses the “bucket rule”.  Problem solved.  Game on.

The point is kind of simple.  It’s either (or both) that I am a full Ginzu set of knives short of a silverware drawer for not thinking of this for 3 decades or it is that to change behaviors, sometimes asking for or demanding a behavior change does not work. 

Sometimes an incentive is better.

So the questions are, what work behavioral pet peeves do you have? And what could an incentive do for you?

  •  Your sales team is struggling to make the time to learn more about the industry they call upon or service?  Bury “incentives” in the details of industry knowledge materials you post on the Wiki.  (i.e. offer rewards for learning or knowing)
  • CRMor lead generation data not getting updated correctly or completely? Add a small “accelerator” to your SIP for quality detail about and for our customers.

There are a dozen more pet peeves for sure but don’t wait for years to figure out a solution to a nagging behavioral problem like I did.  I only wish I had thought of the “bucket rule” back when I was 12 and I probably would have gotten a few hundred more games in.

Till next time,

Grow The Business.



Perfect Games in Sales & Marketing


In baseball there is all the rage about perfect games this year.  But it’s not whether there have been two or three perfect games (I say 3) this year that strikes me.   What occurs to me is the tremendous advantage baseball has to know what perfection looks like.

In baseball, you know what a perfect game should look and feel like when you get there.   You can envision the 3 hour battle, the tension rising, the crowds standing all throughout the 9th inning and the euphoric on field celebration as the 27th consecutive batter is retired. 

In Sales and Marketing you aren’t sure what that perfect campaign or sale looks or feels like whether you are a big company, small business   or sell for yourself.   Wouldn’t it be great if we knew what a perfect sales or marketing campaign looked like?

If you knew, you could better build the path, the processes and the tools you’ll need to get there.  And when we you see a vision of perfection you can measure better your performance in sales and marketing comparatively.

Don’t take the easy way and say a perfect game in a sale or a marketing campaign would exceed revenue results, would be done ahead of schedule and under budget.  That’s not a perfect game.  Here’s the scorecard for real perfection.

A Sales/Marketing Perfect Game

1st Inning:  You took a big risk.  You targeted a new market.  This campaign, this sale is a game changer; no tiny incremental move here; you are going for it.

2nd Inning:  Before you’ve sold anything, you’ve ‘sold” everyone on your team first.  You get the Manager on board, your colleagues, your teammates and you’ve got them all ready to play like hell for you.  No lone ranger here, the most brilliant sales people and marketers don’t do it alone.

3rd Inning:  You are obsessed with differentiation.   99% of us have at least 1 competitor.  In this perfect game your lead story sets you apart in such a way that you create a buzz offline and online; just like a high and tight fastball buzzed inside gets attention.

4th Inning:  You are obsessed with credibility.  The marketplace today is trust starved.  The internet is the gathering place for pseudo soothsayers and the volume of baseless advice is endless.   In this perfect game you pull out all the stops, pick up the best radar gun and prove how credible you and your company are. 

5th Inning:  You focus on your prospect or your targeted market’s time.  It’s scarce and more valuable than ever.  The perfect campaign respects this.  The perfect campaign invests in this.  Maybe even pays the prospect just for their time.  Knee jerk spray and pray selling or marketing is the bane of the 6 hour, 9 to 8 game that is far away from perfect and creates indifferent fans.

6th   Inning:  This perfect sale doesn’t hit the prospect or the market just at the right time, no siree.  This perfecto takes   perfectly normal consumers or businesses that have no interest in what you have to sell, have no need, no desire and no problem just waiting to be solved and instead, creates interest where there is none.   If you can do that, that is really something.  This inning is where heads start to really turn and focus.

7th inning:  The 7th inning Stretch where the marketer and the sales person are getting real interest but instead of closing and/or pushing shopping carts; you are in it for the long haul.  You stretch the closing of the sale.  You ache to personalize the solution, the consultation.  You tailor your product for each client as this is a relationship you want beyond the first sale.  You want to build raving fans.

8thinning:    No need for a closing (or a closer for that matter).   The perfect sale or marketing campaign doesn’t need discounts, special offers, expiration dates and the like.  This perfect game needs none of that.  The visitors sign up in droves, the prospects ask for not just 1 but 2.  They leave a voicemail on your cell that they want to start on Monday. 

9th Inning:  Here is where the perfect games in sales and marketing matches that of baseball.  It’s a celebration.  Nobody is surprised (because they’ve all been really watching since the 6th inning.)  It’s a moment for posterity; everyone remembers where they were when that campaign or that sales rep delivered like no other.

You can still win lots of games without pitching a perfect one but at least now you know what one looks like in sales and marketing.   And just because of that, my guess is you’ll start playing better right away. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.