Of the millions of people who flocked to see the award-winning movie Moneyball, many surely earn a living working in Sales. But, what percentage of these sales-oriented moviegoers was struck by an epiphany on the order of, “Wow, those sabermetrics could help me perform better, too”? It’s really not a guess to suggest the percentage is probably close to zero.

I know this because, as a DOS, I watched my Sellers try to become invisible anytime I attempted to support a training lesson with the use of numbers. With seemingly choreographed synchronization, my Sales Representatives would slide down in their chairs, often accompanied by a collective roll of the eyes at the very suggestion of a math problem. (The only other exercise that elicited such a negative response was “role playing”.)

I can’t help it! I’ve always regarded the failure of Sellers to embrace the lessons available from simple mathematics as silliness bordering on – dare I say it – ignorance! Consider these simple truths:

- I’m not talking about calculus or trigonometry. Enjoying the performance benefits from studying the numbers only requires mastering the grade-school basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
- At its core, Sales is and always will be a game of numbers.

And yet, these truisms notwithstanding, I am guaranteed to get that “deer in the headlights” response when I ask Sales Representatives to tell me their respective Closing Ratio’s. The math is simple but the question itself causes a brain cramp. That said, if I can convince only a few Sellers to join me in the treacherous numerical waters, my work will have been worthwhile. To that end, my best chance of teaching success requires me to demonstrate both the simplicity and power of “doing the math”. So, let’s give it a try.

By reviewing her calendar for the previous month, a hypothetical Sales Representative can easily determine that she made 60 client presentations and successfully closed 15 contracts. Using simple math (and a small leap of faith), this Seller will divide 15 orders by 60 attempts to realize that her Closing Ratio is 25 percent (1 in 4). By adding the dollar value of her 15 contracts, she learns that her orders totaled $75,000 last month and, when she divides $75,000 by her 15 orders, she can see that her average contract equals $5,000. Now, suppose this Seller’s Manager has established her monthly budget (quota) as $150,000. Because she did the math, the Sales Representative can easily determine that she must write 30 orders to reach her budget and she can be fairly confident that she will do so by making 120 client presentations each month. By just letting the numbers dictate her activity, our Seller is guaranteed to be successful. Now that’s power!

Superior Sellers recognize there are actually two impressive benefits that result when they embrace the numbers:

- Because Sales is a numbers game, aggressive use of the math WILL improve revenue production; and,
- By following the numbers, Sales Representatives are actually managing themselves and, as a result, they will suffer less scrutiny from the boss.

Jon E. Horton is the author of *The 22 Unbreakable Laws of Selling* available in both paperback and Kindle versions from Amazon.com. For more on this topic, please read Chapter 4, The Law of Numbers. Contact Jon@JonEHorton.com.

Last updated:
*Jul 13, 2013*