Sales Leadership,Sales Transformation,Sales Management,Sales Coaching,Journey to Sales TransformationIn The Journey to Sales Transformation, crafty old messenger Benjamin Delaney directs Chief Sales Officer Phillip Evan Hawthorne’s sales transformation journey. Ben reveals truths of becoming a trusted advisor and partner to his customers through observations and stories. In this third of a series of excerpts Ben is discussing identifying gaps in seller behavior as the root cause for a sales rep’s failure to meet sales goals and targets.

A continuation of What Sales Coaches Can Learn from Baseball Coaches Part One and Part Two

Phillip completely forgot he was at a ball game until he heard a father in the stands behind him yell, “Get ready for a bunt!” Phillip looked up from his notes just in time to see a batter square off for a bunt, take a semi-swing, and hit a soft line drive toward second. Unfortunately for him, the second baseman didn’t have to take so much as a step to catch the ball in the air and promptly tag out the runner who was headed from first to second to complete a double play.

Ben poked Phillip with his elbow and let out a little laugh. “Did you see that bunt? I mean it looked like he squared up for a sacrifice bunt, just like he should. I don’t know what the heck it was after that. Anyway, there was a good example of a gap in behavior that affected a kid’s batting average and, at least potentially, the final score of the game. Something as seemingly insignificant and easy-looking as a bunt may have cost his team the game.”

“That’s true. And from the looks of the score, they really, really needed to advance that runner,” Phillip said as he looked at the scoreboard.

“Yeah, no kidding.” Ben glanced over at Coach Dillon’s bench. “So here’s an excellent opportunity to discuss the second thing a good coach does once they’ve set goals. The batter needs help, right?” Ben didn’t even slow down for Phillip’s response. “So here’s what a good coach would do. Let’s say one of the batter’s goals was to increase their batting average. If he had successfully executed the sacrifice bunt, the out wouldn’t have counted against his average. On top of that, his behavior caused the runner to be tagged out on his way to second, so it was a double whammy. The coach just saw a gap in his behavior that caused that outcome.

“So the gap wasn’t the fact he was out,” Phillip said, “or that he failed to advance the runner. The gap was his failure to execute the bunt, right?”

“Exactly. A lot of sales managers identify a gap in a sales rep’s performance as the difference between a sales revenue number that was committed to and the number that was actually achieved.” To emphasize his point, Ben slapped Phillip’s knee as he spoke. “That just ain’t right. Missing the number isn’t the problem – it’s the rep’s behavior, their execution.

“C’mon, son, you remember what it was like. If you missed a revenue target when you were a rep, you didn’t need a coach to tell you missed it, just like that boy didn’t need a coach to tell him he bunted into a double play. The kid was there. He saw it all happen. He needs a coach to help him understand why it happened. That’s what’ll lower the chance it happens again.”

“Good point, Ben. You’re so right.” Phillip recognized the familiar feeling of another arriving revelation.

Excerpt from ‘The Journey to Sales Transformation: 25 AXIOMS for becoming a trusted partner to your customers.’ Available at