Watching someone hit a home run is a spectacular sight. Onlookers hold their breath as the pitcher signals, winds up and hurls the baseball towards its target. This tension evaporates with a shattering crack as the batter connects and sends the ball soaring into the stands – swiftly followed by the cheers of fans and teammates.
There is only one issue with hitting a home run. It’s exceptionally difficult.
I remember watching the film Moneyball for the first time a few years ago. Although I am not an avid follower of baseball, I always appreciated the skill involved in the game and even more so the bravery of taking a more analytical approach to a well established blueprint for success.
In Major League Baseball, only 15% of all hits result in a home run. So whilst knocking a 100MPH pitch out of the park is an eye-catching way to score points, it’s not a particularly effective one.
In comparison, there are seven different ways a player can get to first base alone – none of which require you to beam the ball out of the ballpark. More players getting to first base means more points can be scored, and the more points you score, the more likely you are to win.
This simple insight was the foundation of the Oakland Athletics’ incredible overperformance in the 2002 season. By re-evaluating their strategy in this way, the Oakland A’s, with approximately $44 million in salary, were competitive with larger market teams such as the New York Yankees, who spent over $125 million in payroll that season.
More than just inspiring incredible pieces of media like Moneyball – the Oakland A’s 2002 season revolutionised attitudes towards efficiency in businesses and industries around the globe. Especially sales.
Businesses have historically focused on getting their own sales people to hit home runs. I’ve been there myself – and while it is a fantastic feeling when you make the right connection and score for your team – I’d wager that even the best in the business have a strike rate considerably lower than 15%.
Having an in-house sales team was essential. Selling through partner channels was typically limited to the big dogs – players like HP or Dell who could rely on the power of their brand to shift products around the globe, relying heavily on their partner network.
This has now all changed. The advent of the internet and the digital age has crumbled the barriers to entry – you can now connect with anyone, anytime, anywhere. D2C brands are able to emerge and disrupt a market at unprecedented pace. Now, instead of getting a sales team and swinging for the stands – businesses are able to do something much more effective: Use partner channels to get to first base.
Channel sales is ultimately about expanding your solution footprint to as many effective sellers as possible. This can be perceived as hedging your bets, given that your partners aren’t on your payroll per se, expanding your sales footprint across more organisations as opposed to only selling direct. So instead of success depending on one person hitting a home run – you now have ten people getting to first base.
Leveraging a partner network may seem risky with diluted messaging, less accurate representation and scrapping for share of voice. However, referral-based selling is the most effective and efficient sales methodology as buyers opt for public and trusted opinion and experiences.
The key to successfully using partner sales channels is being able to effectively track and manage these partners. Partner Relationship Management (PRM) platforms help manage and track these relationships – removing the need for individual micromanagement of each partner.
My favourite quote from Moneyball author Michael Lewis is “Every form of strength is also a form of weakness”. In the world of sales, this tells me that no matter how potent your direct sales team may be, no matter how many home runs they hit, they cannot scale like an effective partnership ecosystem ever could.
Business is a team sport. At Allbound, we believe that when you impact and coach your indirect sales through communication and teamwork, you close more loops and grow together. By helping them get to first base, effective PRM platforms can effectively restructure your partners into a winning team.