I revel in the days of old when baseball was truly, “America’s Pastime.”

opening-day-baseball-2014It’s not anymore. Hasn’t been for years. That’s become exponentially evident thanks to a slew of problems ranging from a decrease in game attendance to the lack of national stars like there are in the NBA and NFL. People say the games are too slow, the season is too long and the games are, well…boring.

I’ve heard every complaint and statistic to no avail. It doesn’t matter to me. I anticipate Opening Day every spring the way a child anticipates summer vacation. Baseball season is my paradise.

So here we are once again. March 31, 2014. Opening day for the 2014 Major League Baseball season. My beloved Texas Rangers start their season at 1:05 CT against the Philadelphia Phillies, and soon, all will be right with the world.

So why am I talking about baseball here? I believe there are a number of lessons sales teams can learn from the game of baseball. So before I go on about the greatest sport around for too much longer, let’s look at some fundamental concepts sales teams, sales managers and even entrepreneurs can take from the baseball diamond.

Handling Failure Like the Pros

Baseball is a game of failure. More importantly, it is a game of handling and responding to failure. Consider this, the last player to finish a season with a batting average at or above .400 was 73 years ago when Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941.

In the Major Leagues, hitting above .300 is an All-Star season. This means you are failing seven out of 10 times you step up to the plate (more than twice as many times as succeeding). In sales, you can’t let the word, “no,” discourage you and you can’t give up because you failed. You have to move on to the next call.

Like everything, baseball has ups and downs, but it is how you respond to success and failure that is important. The same goes for sales and also as a small business owner. You have to stay even-keeled whether you land a big deal or get yelled at for calling during the person’s lunch hour. The moment you lose confidence in your abilities is the moment you jeopardize your chance of future success.

Tracking and Utilizing Key Statistics

The number of statistics available in baseball is overwhelming. Every piece of data you wanted (batting average, earned-run average, on-base percentage) and every piece you didn’t know you wanted (acceleration and efficiency of a fielder’s route toward the ball) is now available for players, coaches, managers and everyone else in the organization to view and analyze.

Baseball teams depend on this data. From using it to see the production of their own players to scouting opposing teams. The same goes for sales teams. By using a CRM with your sales, you can forecast sales, easily view activity in your pipeline and track marketing efforts to improve your overall work flow. It is your keys to success.

Accessing and analyzing this data is essential for converting leads into customers. If an opposing baseball team knows the tendencies of a pinch hitter/utility infielder, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be utilizing the number of tools inside a CRM to make the most of your efforts. Without one, you can’t make adjustments or learn from your failures and successes.

The Perfect Team and Individual Sport

In my opinion, one of the greatest aspects of baseball is it’s a complete team sport. Nine guys on the field who depend on each other to win. Not only is it an essential team sport, but it is also an individual sport. The team depends on each individual to execute. To do their job. To pitch a great game, get a hit in a clutch situation and to play flawless defense for 27 outs.

In sales, you have to focus on doing your job and improving yourself to benefit the entire sales team as a whole. Whether it is spending extra hours getting to know your product, perfecting your opening line and sales pitch or anything else, when you invest in yourself, you invest in the team.

At the end of the day, you have to get it done. Have confidence in yourself and your abilities, execute perfectly and make the sale. So as you are watching (or not watching) Opening Day baseball, think about how you can improve yourself to improve your team, how you can start tracking and  learning from data with a CRM and how you can maintain confidence after every call whether you strike out or hit a home run.