B2B Marketing and Baseball

B2B Valley, unattainable goals objectivesI’ve seen a number of blog posts and articles lately that use sports metaphors. It makes sense because sports is a common reference point for Americans. People who have no idea who their U.S. senator is or which ocean is on the west coast are more likely to be able to name the Super Bowl MVP and know who won the World Series. So I got to thinking (always dangerous) about the many ways that B2B marketing is like baseball and some of the lessons we marketers and sales people can learn from the Boys of October.

Here are four similarities:

(1) Continuous learning is vital to success. One of the most attractive aspects of baseball is its emphasis on lifelong learning. Casey Stengel was a major league player and manager from 1912 until 1965. That’s 53 years. His nickname was “The Old Perfessor” because he was a lifelong student and teacher of the game.

Good marketers are like “old perfessors” because they are always learning something new, always testing, always challenging their past assumptions.  By the way, for you baseball trivia fans, the longest serving big league manager was Connie Mack who coached the Philadelphia Athletics for 50 years before retiring at the age of 87.

(2) Singles vs. home runs. Home runs make the game of baseball more exciting; but often, the teams that win are the teams that hit a lot of singles and doubles. Likewise, every marketing campaign doesn’t have to be a home run. It’s a good feeling when your booth is the talk of the trade show, when your webinar attracts a huge audience and when your latest campaign does twice as well as projected. But the reality is that good B2B marketing is a blend of minor successes (singles, doubles), major successes (triples and home runs) and failures (strike outs, groundouts, etc.).

(3) Little things make a big difference. Baseball is a game of subtlety. Little actions, like putting the right pitcher in front of the right batter or shifting the infield by a couple of feet, can make the difference between winning and losing.  Likewise, marketing is a series of small actions that, when executed well, can contribute to a major success.

The combined marketing and sales process can comprise 10 or more phases, beginning at creating awareness and ending (temporarily) with the close of a sale. If any of these phases are inefficient, the entire results will be impacted. At Fusion Marketing Partners, we look for the weakness in both marketing and sales processes and often find that relatively minor adjustments can have benefits that far exceed the effort.

(4) It’s a team sport. In baseball, there is a great deal of trust between players. Drills are run repeatedly to ensure that every player is exactly where he is supposed to be in every circumstance. In marketing, there is a great deal of dependency, not just between the marketing players, but also between sales and marketing.

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Sales needs to know that marketing is delivering the type of leads that will lead to sales effectiveness and a reasonable close rate. Marketing needs to know that sales is diligently working the leads that they spent so much time and money to produce.

Interested in learning more about the benefits of B2B marketing and sales alignment?

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Christopher Ryan

Christopher Ryan has 25 years of marketing, technology, revenue growth experience. As both a marketing executive and services provider, Chris has created and executed numerous programs that build market awareness, drive lead generation and increase revenue.
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4 comments

  • LeeAnn Fleming August 19, 2010   Reply →

    Chris, so true about continuous learning. While marketing requires us to learn new techniques, we also have to learn new technologies that are changing under our feet even as we are running with the ball.

    Fun post! Keep them coming.

  • John Leavy August 19, 2010   Reply →

    Chris,
    Great post so close to post season. I’ve always taught my kids that it’s better to be a singles hitter than hitting for the fence and making a fly out to an outfielder. Looks like the same wisdom works for marketing.

  • Jesse August 20, 2010   Reply →

    Some of us even have two US senators. 🙂

  • Printing in Mumbai September 1, 2010   Reply →

    Can easily relate to team sport which goes a long way in making a successful brand

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