At Sales Conservatory, we talk about Moneyball strategies for sales. We have many examples that suggested that having a Moneyball strategy for sales actually increases your ability to generate revenue. Moneyball is obviously focused on baseball analogies but is it also applicable to other sports?

Hall of Fame basketball champion, Dirk Nowitzki had a practice regimen of being fouled while he took shots. He literally had his coach foul him, intentionally, while he was trying to shoot a basket. And I’m not talking about simple pushing but very flagrant fouls. This allowed him to learn how to shoot through the fouls, maintain his balance, and be able to focus on the basket. Seems like a pretty intense and yet frivolous practice regimen, or is it?

The Economics of Basketball

If you shoot a basket and make it while being fouled, you get the two the points and a chance to get a 3rd point. The average percentage of making a free throws in the NBA is about 79%, call it 80%. That means that if you make the shot while getting fouled and shoot the free throw, you will walk away with 2.8 points

Now, if you shoot the ball while getting fouled and not make the basket, you don’t get the points but you get a chance to shoot two free throws. Given the average above, you will walk away with 1.6 points after you shoot the two free throws.

The difference between the two scenarios is 57% more points when you make the basket while being fouled than not.

Let’s stretch that out to a full game. The average personal fouls by each team in last season was 19.6, let’s call it 20 personal fouls per team. Looking at the extremes, Team A does not make any of their initial shots while getting fouled, while the Team B makes all of them. Team A will walks away with 32 point from these personal fouls while Team B will get 56 point, a difference of 24 points. The average margin of victory for an NBA team was 12.3, called it 12. Just by being able to make your shots while being fouled can win you games. Looks like Dirk was also playing Moneyball in the NBA.

Sales Application

I have spoken about role plays in the past. Role plays are great for rehearsing your customer event. However, most of the time, I see role-plays as being executed in a very scripted way. Never allowing for the unknown or for something to go wrong. Even if these things are allowed during the role-play, it’s usually scripted which means the sales rep has a canned response, not feeling the issue.

At Sales Conservatory, we take this very seriously. We create role-plays that not only provide good examples of objection handling but also provide opportunities to be tested under stress and pressure. The rep still learns behind closed doors and yet, faces those challenges that make her or him a better sales rep in the field. The takeaway here is that those that are using role-plays to create a training environment should explore creating those role-plays to have the challenges and the stress of a real customer event that potentially may have challenges. Because the fact is, all customer events have that potential.