For starters, Billy probably wouldn’t be as famous. That’s just the reality when comparing Major League baseball to selling. But we’d bet that he’d still be a winner and likely, so would your organisation. He would almost certainly be a revolutionary sales executive. He would also be enormously unpopular with his staff and his peers. Fifteen years after he began the data and analytics led revolution of Major League Baseball and four years since the movie Moneyball spread that story around the globe, the marketing and sales industries remain as insular and
walled-off from reality as baseball was before Billy and sabre-metrics arrived. Billy Beane would not be welcome in most sales organisations.
Would he be successful? Major League teams have had a decade and a half to study and replicate what Billy started at the Oakland Athletics in the late 1990’s. Let’s have a look at the teams from this year’s recently completed MLB playoffs: The Royals, Mets, Cubs and Blue Jays. None of 2015’s five highest-spending organizations made it to baseball’s semi-finals. And only one of the semi-finalists –
the Toronto Blue Jays – ranks in the top 10 for payroll…and they were 10th. In every post-season game this year, the team with the lower payroll won, and in the American League Wild Card game, the team with the second lowest payroll – the Astros, beat the team with the second highest payroll, the Yankees.
It’s fairly obvious that the approach Billy Beane first introduced in Oakland in 1999 continues to have a real and lasting impact on Major League Baseball. What’s less obvious are the practical marketing and sales lessons that are hidden in his thinking and how organisations can take advantage of them today – whether they like or appreciate baseball or not.