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3 Sales And Leadership Lessons From The Red Sox Collapse

For the Boston Red Sox, it came down to one day, one bad day, that cost them the opportunity to head to the baseball postseason. Seven months and 162 games came down to one single game as they missed the playoffs on the last day of the regular season after they entered the month with a nine-game lead!

As we close out our 3rd quarter today, it got me thinking about sales and how hitting and exceeding numbers should never come down to the last day for your team. It’s the work you do leading up to that point that counts. If the Red Sox had played harder in May and won JUST ONE MORE GAME months ago, they would have made the postseason and been one step closer to their ultimate goal. Had they worked harder before the final game, they would still be playing.

To compare to sales, if you put in that extra few calls at the beginning of the month or ask for help earlier or make the effort when the pressure is low, you avoid the crunch of ‘last day of the month/quarter’. The parallels are there for what happened to the Red Sox and Atlanta Braves to sales teams around the world.

Here are my business takeaways from Boston’s colossal collapse:

Red Sox CollapseAlways work hard.

Never count on coasting into the postseason (aka end of the month/quarter).  If you are planning on winning the deal tomorrow, you may have just lost it today.

Always look to improve.

This goes along with working hard, but take every opportunity to be better than you were yesterday….or that last deal you worked… or that last call you had.

One constant: your competition will ALWAYS be looking to gain an edge on you, so you have to remain steps ahead and push to be better.

It’s everyone’s fault when you lose…even the managers.

Carl Crawford misplayed the potential final out in that dreadful game, so he’s getting some of the blame. But manager Terry Francona could have played a different lineup  (or earlier in the season) that made the difference. That change could have resulted in someone else running harder around the bases and scoring the run that made the difference.

The Yankees (their main competition!) could have won their own game to force a one-game playoff and bail the Red Sox out, but ultimately, the blame was on the Red Sox as a team.  When our team loses deals, it’s the fault of the entire sales team from the reps to the sales managers to myself to our VP, Kyle.

If you’re a manager in a similar situation, you need to start asking yourselves questions when your team loses. Did you get involved early on?  Do you know what deals are being worked?  Do you know what deals aren’t real opportunities?  Do you know why you win when you win?

Start challenging yourselves to be better today than you were yesterday so that everyone will benefit tomorrow. Don’t be the team “going home” and wishing they had done more early to avoid disaster late.

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