I love baseball season! The weather has been a bit iffy thus far this year, but it’s great to be able to catch a game at any level. I’ve already been to many high school games to watch my son’s team play, and we recently made a weekend trip to Blacksburg to see the Hokies play Wake Forest. I’m hoping to catch my first Pro game next week.
I attribute part of my love for the game to my grandmother. She was an avid Baltimore Orioles fan, and used to take me to games at Memorial Stadium when I was really young. When we weren’t at a game, we were listening on the radio. I learned the strategies of baseball and how to keep score way back then. I played softball in high school and college (intramural) and still throw with my sons from time-to-time. When watching my son’s games, I still keep a score book just to help him identify trends with his hitting and pitching.
Each year as the season gets underway, I’m reminded of some parallels between baseball and business. Following are a few ideas that come to mind:
Conditioning – Inevitably, at the start of each year, we hear about serious injuries that have afflicted players. Often, the pundits will explain that these injuries are a result of the player not being “game ready”. A disciplined approach to pre-season and in-season conditioning is a must to stay healthy. Depending on the position, the conditioning workout will include some combination of weight training, running / sprinting, and stretching. All three components are vital to player health and game readiness.
Thinking about our businesses, do we have a disciplined approach to staying healthy? What are the components we must incorporate into the daily routines of our players (pre-sale, during the sale, and post-sale) that keep us off of the injured reserve list?
Pre-sale workouts include a combination of networking, prospecting, and pre-qualification by Producers; and planning and goal-setting by Owners / Managers. During the sale, we must build technical skills as well as interpersonal relations skills in order to effectively risk manage for our clients and build relationships with both clients and carrier personnel. After the sale, is where the discipline really pays off! We must continue to stay in the minds of our clients through a variety of pro-active account development techniques.
Equipment – My youngest son is currently a J.V. ballplayer, who’s been playing baseball at very competitive levels since he was nine. He’s on every mailing list for every equipment provider known to man. Each year, beginning in January if not before, we are inundated with catalogs and emails from equipment vendors touting the latest and greatest bats, gloves, uniforms, etc. And, baseball equipment is not inexpensive! Early on, he learned the value of maintaining his equipment. For example, he has learned to dry out his batting glove when necessary, and to re-string his fielding glove when needed. My son knows I’m into technology, as long as it works to help reach a goal. So, his argument, each year, is that he needs the newest technology to make the most of his skills. Sometimes, I buy the argument – and the newest equipment! But….as I tell him, if you can’t make solid contact with the baseball, it really doesn’t matter what the bat is made of! The same thought can be applied in our offices.
New technology (equipment) is a must to stay current with our various constituencies and to run more efficiently. However, it’s just as important to care for and utilize our existing equipment to its fullest. Employing the most efficient workflows, implementing agency procedures, installing updates in a timely fashion, and conducting / attending training on a regular basis are all methods for keeping our “technology” current. Remember, it really doesn’t matter how great the equipment is if the “players” don’t know how to use it most effectively.
Teamwork – Watching a good ball club play is sort of like watching a ballet (I guess? – I’m not a big ballet follower!). Without saying a word, in many cases, the play is made and positive results are achieved. Think about the third base coach signaling the batter and the base runner to execute a hit-and-run or a steal. Consider how the catcher communicates what type of pitch the pitcher should throw to a particular batter based on tendencies they’ve identified. Contemplate how the pitcher communicates a forthcoming pickoff attempt to the infield without tipping off the runner(s). Watch how a catcher signals to the field when there are base runners on the corners. Observe the various players moving into their backup positions depending on where a ball is hit. It’s interesting to see how these plays are executed, without a “huddle”, in most cases.
Now, let’s think about our offices. Are our personnel so well coached that each time there’s a client call; they know exactly where the play will be made and where their backup position is? Do the producers and service personnel communicate like pitchers, catchers and infielders? Are producers confident that when they signal, the players will be in position? Even if you’re not much of a baseball fan, I think you can understand how working toward seamless, intuitive communication among our team members can breed tremendous results for the entire “club”. This begins with selecting the right players in the first place. Then, continuously training and coaching them to build their skill levels and play their positions.
Statistics - It goes without saying that we have to keep score to win. I’m always intrigued by the commentators, for any sport, that come up with the most obscure statistics. With baseball, statisticians track everything! Stats are how players are recognized and awarded scholarships, big signing bonuses, championship rings, golden gloves and a plaque on the wall of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY!
We must keep stats in our offices! Without tracking a variety of statistics, how do we know when we’ve won? It might be revenue growth, “spread”, policy count, loss ratio, or share of market, but we have to keep a variety of statistics to measure what’s getting done. If, we are regularly reviewing the statistics – in the off-season and during the season – we can be prepared to re-tool our teams as needed or make trades.
Hopefully, this short article will help you take a fresh look at your organization. Consider conditioning, equipment, teamwork and statistics and get game ready!
If you need some help, the AIMS Society is in a position to help you select and provide training needed to build strong “players”. Visit www.aimssociety.org or give me a call – 877-674-2742 (CPIA) – to learn more about all we can do to help with growth and profitability!