There is no shortage of software firms using Moneyball (1) as an analogy to market their applications. “We are Moneyball for Sales”, is something we’ve seen numerous times since the movie featuring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill came out in 2011 (2). Because Moneyball is such an overworked analogy, there needs to be strong justification to use it because a firm risks getting lost in the noise of all the others out there saying the same thing.
There is a good reason why we chose this analogy for our business, but it might not be the reason one would expect. For those who are not familiar with our application, we created a program that uses artificial intelligence to assess and predict the most important quantitative metrics and qualitative skills that influence a salesperson’s ability to generate revenue. Our application helps managers understand which underlying metrics and behaviors are most important in driving successful sales teams, much like the statistical analyses used by Peter Brand, the analyst behind the Moneyball story.
That is the obvious reason why we used the Moneyball analogy. A not-so-obvious reason is at the heart of the Moneyball story. The key conflict in Moneyball is about how Billy Beane had to convince his Manager and scouts, with decades of experience judging players, that an analyst with no baseball experience had better insights than them when it came to assessing baseball player talent. And they were partially right, because as the season wore on, the other flaws and issues of the players Brand identified began to overwhelm the statistics. The experiment almost didn’t succeed.
What changed? It became clear that it wasn’t enough to just recruit players with the right statistics: players still had to be coached and managed to overcome the other issues that prevented them from winning games, masking their true potential. Today all the teams who have won the World Series over the past decade have implemented a combination of great analytics and effective player coaching and development to drive their teams to the top of baseball. The real insight of Moneyball is that a different perspective forever changed the landscape of the sport and redefined how to achieve success.
We use the Moneyball analogy because we recognized in building our application that effective sales management works no different than managing a successful baseball team. We realized there needed to be a quantitative component (real numbers, statistics, analytics), but that metrics needed to be combined with subjective judgements from managers (qualitative behaviors, skills, and tendencies) in order to make effective decisions. This leads to the ability to do effective coaching, which has been demonstrated to be a key critical success factor in improving sales performance.
The Moneyball analogy only works when a sales leader can combine effective metric analysis with sound judgement and commitment to coach team members in the skills that lead to effective execution. Metrics can’t improve themselves, and that is the key message of Moneyball that sales leaders must take away to impact performance. An application like Funnelocitysm that can quickly enable metric assessment using techniques like those found in Sabremetrics could make this effort easy and fast to accomplish, forever changing the game.
For those interested in learning more about how we assess metrics and behaviors using Artificial Intelligence, more information can be found on the Funnel Metrics website: https://funnelmetrics.com.
1 – Lewis, Michael. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game (W. W. Norton & Company, 2003
2 – Moneyball. Directed by Bennett Miller. Written by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Performances by Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc, 2011.