Fall is here. The cool, crisp air, the smell of pumpkin spiced…anything and the Fall Classic. The post-season shines the spotlight on some of the game’s best players and, while I’m not the greatest sports fan out there, I can’t help but notice the similarities between baseball and sales. Mickey Mantle once said, “It’s unbelievable how much you don’t know about the game you’ve played all your life.” The same applies to sales. The sales industry is constantly evolving and it is important to remain open to change if sales professionals are going to improve their performance, especially in the sales ‘post-season,’ Q4.

Here are 5 things sales professionals need to be aware of if they are to hit a grand slam in their World Series:

1. Increase Your Speed

In baseball, you must (or should) hustle on every play. Derek Jeter personified this. Whether it was a home run, a bloop single or a bunt, he always ran hard. You never know if the opposing player will make a bad throw and instead of an out, you get a hit.

The same thing happens in sales. It’s easy to get discouraged when you only get one lead after making 70 calls, but regardless, you need to bring it every single time. No excuses! My mantra is “sell, sell, sell and when you’re done selling, sell some more.” I get there’s pressure to finish strong in Q4, but just remember it’s pointless to look back at your sales quotas from Q1-3 and try to make up the deficit in Q4. That’s a waste of time. What you need to do is become laser-focused and only track prospects that might turn into customers. Don’t bother going after every Tom, Dick or Harry. It’s not good use of your time and time is money.

2. Be Agile and Adapt Accordingly

Today’s sales landscape is not your dad’s sales landscape. Things have evolved and while the ‘old way’ may feel safe to some, you must avoid being the dinosaur in the room.  Customers change their habits and sales people need to be agile enough to adapt and evolve their sales approaches. As a result, sales professionals need to have a game plan going into Q4. You may adapt the game plan accordingly, but you shouldn’t go into the final stretch with a step and repeat of Q3 or worse – no plan at all. That’s a surefire way to fail, and fail fast. Having a game plan in place allows you to adapt to the multiple variables you’ll face and will give you a leg up on your competition.

3. Numbers Don’t Lie

You don’t have to be familiar with baseball to have heard about the movie “Moneyball,” starring Brad Pitt. The premise of the movie is bucking traditional (baseball) wisdom that determined how the game was played, how it was managed, who was best suited to play the game and using “science” (metrics, data analysis, etc.) to determine which players will achieve success faster and more efficiently. While most people assume that teams that spent the most money getting star players will always win, Oakland’s GM, Billy Beane, proved many wrong.

The same premise can be adapted to the sales process. Science can add predictability and scalability to the sales function, and can improve results. Additionally, lower-cost sales resources and approaches often outperform the most senior sales pros in certain sales activities, like lead generation and qualification, selling in volume and selling using only the phone/web/social media.

4. If You Strike Out, Step Up to Bat Again

Baseball is not for everyone, not is it easy. If it was, anyone could do it. Baseball is also a game of failure. Think about the numbers, a batting average of .300 – which is GREAT, means you failed to put the ball in play 70% of the time. In sales, the numbers can be just as stark, but not all is lost.

Keep stepping up to the plate, time and time again. You might not hit a home run every time (or get that big sale), but your plate approach should always be the same.

Stepping up to meet your Q4 goals can be a daunting task, but speeding up the process should not mean you sacrifice your sales strategy. Remember what I said about the game plan earlier? Trust your game plan. You must remain focused and allow the process to grow organically. Be direct and assertive and strive to understand the buyer and their journey. Forcing your hand will make you whiff and sound desperate.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice

Practicing your craft is something usually associated with professional athletes, not salespeople. I think this is a mistake…for salespeople. It has been my experience that successful sales professionals constantly rehearse objection rebuttals, practice leaving a voicemail and write (and rewrite) their talk tracks in order to achieve their goals – to close the deal. Practice does make perfect!

The post-season – and Q4, can make or break your year. Keep in mind these steps I’ve mentioned here and when you step up to bat, think of homeruns. Will you be your team’s champ or its chump?