Category Archives: Training Development

Selling for the Big Leagues: A Comparison of Baseball and Sales By Craig Basta

A colleague of mine wrote a great article that I wanted to share. Craig Bata is one of our top value providers in the Northeast market. Craig works out of our Bridgeport, CT location and is a great resource.

Craig’s article does a great job of explaining basic sales concepts in easy, relatable terms. A couple of key take-a-ways for me:

  • Practice, practice, practice – the key to honing your skills and staying on top of your game.
  • Everyone goes through “slumps” – if you are consistent and keep at it, a slump will turn into a “STREAK”.
  • Coaching is a valuable tool. Embrace it, use it, live it. Even the elite need coaching.
  • Home Runs (landing big deals) aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Focus on getting on base, you’ll win more often, and contribute more to the overall success of yourself and the team.

Thanks for sharing your insight Craig, we all appreciate it.

Read it in it’s entirety below. – (Reprinted with permission from the author.)


Selling for the Big Leagues: A Comparison of the MLB and Sales

By Craig Basta

Those of you who know me know I am an avid sports fan. I enjoy many different sports including football, basketball, hockey, and baseball. When it comes to baseball however, there is no other sport which compares. Anyone can pick up a basketball and shoot some baskets. Not anyone can pick up a bat and hit a curveball. This is where my comparison starts. Sales may not be a sport but it certainly takes a lot of skill, and it certainly isn’t for everyone. If you can highlight your skills and work your tail off you can have a long successful career. Secondly you have to realize it isn’t all about you. Baseball is a team sport and if you’re out there for your own well being you are going to limit your success. You may be the pitcher and the ball is in your hands, however, if you have no defense behind you, you don’t have a chance. Everyone on the team has a position and you can only find success if everyone knows their position and works together to achieve the same goals. Each person is as important to the team as the next and you have to be able to trust and rely on your teammates. Team work makes the dream work. You need the advice and guidance of the coaches (bosses and managers) and you need the effort and support of your team mates (fellow salesmen).


There is a lot of competition out there and they are going after the same goals you are. They may be using different tactics but in the long run everyone is out for the same thing. The most important thing here is to know your competition. You have to know how they operate, and know how they play the game. Study the competition and you can learn from them, realize their strengths and weaknesses and you can find ways to beat them. You don’t have to always be the strongest and you don’t have to win every game but it is important to stay relevant, compete, and keep yourself in the mix. You may have no shot at winning the division but as long as you stay in position to win the wildcard you always have a shot to go all the way.


The major league season is a long grueling season. If you sprint you will run out of breath and when you take time to catch your breath the competition will pass you. It’s a marathon not a dash. The important thing here is to keep a steady pace. As I said before it would be impossible for you to win every game, but by winning more games than you lose you can keep yourself in the mix and make it to the World Series. I find there to be many similarities between the baseball season and our sales season.

The winter is always going to be our off season/slow season. Although we don’t have sales going out the door all day or games going on, this is one of the most important parts of the year. Why you ask? Well, this is where it’s important to keep yourself in shape. If you don’t keep yourself in the position to succeed once the actual season begins you are going to come in to training camp out of shape and someone else may be busting their butt to take your spot. Make phone calls, remind people why you are who you are and what you have to offer them. It may seem like everything is dormant and there isn’t much going on but this winter season is crucial to the success of your year. This is where you set up for the season and get an idea on what you have in store.

Spring training finally arrives! The season is just around the corner. You will have some scrimmage games and practice every day. The harder you worked in the off season the easier you will roll through spring training and in to the season. Still preparing for the season here and feeling out how successful the team is. This is an exciting part of the year and it’s nice when old man winter is out of the picture.

Spring/Summer the season is here! Now we are going full steam ahead and pushing towards our goals as a team. It’s a busy season and it’s a long season. Keep yourself alive in games and you will win games. If you win games you will keep yourself alive to make the playoffs and help the team find this success. You are going to lose and there is going to be streaks where you lose a couple in a row and can’t find a win. It’s important not to get frustrated and keep pushing. The losing streak will end you will find some wins and hopefully go on a winning streak! Stay strong and stay healthy, use your team mates and you will have a better chance to survive the season. Again, it’s a long one.

Fall arrives and now it’s getting exciting. This is crunch time. The end of the year is coming and you want to go out on top. You need to be Mr. October and win as many games as you can to achieve what you set out to do so many months ago. At this point you are in top form and it’s win or go home. End the season on a high note and go home with the trophy!


Hitting is one of the toughest things to do in baseball and it’s vital. If you don’t hit you won’t score runs and if you don’t score runs you can’t win games. The most important thing here is realizing it isn’t all about the homerun (big job). It’s more important and helps the team more if you can hit for average. I’ll take 3 doubles, and 3 singles over 1 homerun and 5 strikeouts. Odds are the singles and 2 baggers will amount to more runs scored or batted in for the team. People like to see homeruns and when you hit them you can feel like a king but they come far less often. If you hit for average and mix in a homerun here and there it’ll feel even better when you hit the homerun. This is what the team wants and this is how you will find a long successful year.

While batting it’s important to stay alive at the plate. You are going to get fastballs and you are going to get curveballs mixed in. Not every pitch is worth going after. It’s very important to have control and a keen eye at the plate. Know which pitches are worth swinging at. You will have to foul off some pitches that are close but you know they aren’t yours. If you keep yourself alive your pitch will come and this is where you connect and drive through the ball. It’s very important to follow through!

Run everything out because you never know. You just miss and catch one off the end of the bat and now it’s dribbling towards the pitcher as he’s charging to pick it up. Odds are you are going to get thrown out well before you touch first base safely, however, there is always a chance if you run it out and hustle you can turn the last out of an inning in to a few more runs! Hustle is very important so play every play with 100% of your effort.

Get yourself in to scoring position. Get a single and look to steal second. If you don’t put yourself in to scoring position you will have a tougher time scoring runs. Put yourself in the best spot to come around and touch that plate. Smart base running (account management) is huge. A blunder can end the inning but a smart move and a good play can lead to the go ahead run and win the game for the team.


Pitching is probably the most crucial part of baseball. As I said before the pitcher needs the players behind him but he is the only player on the field involved in every play and has the biggest impact on the game. The ball is in his hands and he needs to go out there and get it done. This pitcher needs to use trick pitches and smart pitches and manage the game. If he keeps his composure and confidence he can find tons of success.

Sometimes you have to let a guy walk. The big man steps in at the plate and it’s a tight game late in the 9th. This guy can do more harm than good and isn’t worth facing off against. Don’t give him the opportunity to beat you. Let him walk to first and battle the next guy. Don’t forget him over there on first base always keep an eye on him, but some guys just aren’t worth battling. If you keep an eye on him you may catch him and pick him off so it’s important even after letting him walk to maintain that keen eye.

Closing is all that matters. You can have a lead the whole game but if you blow it in the 9th all of that goes out the window. It’s sales, it’s baseball, it’s closing! You have to be able to come in with the game on the line during crunch time and shut it down to go home with the W. It shouldn’t matter if you’re facing the heart of the line up or the 7-8-9 hitters you’re there for one reason and one reason only. Get in there and do your job so we can put it in the books!

Our season kicks off in a few weeks and so does the season of our favorite baseball teams. It’s an exciting time of year. Make sure you’ve done everything you can to set yourself up for a successful season and work together in this pennant race. We need each other. Good luck to all my teammates this season and I know I’ll be seeing all of you in the World Series this year!

Your teammate,

Craig Basta

PS: Go Mets!

Talent Management – Basics

There is a lot of buzz these days around Talent Management (TM), and rightfully so. Whether companies admit it; employees are their most important and valuable assets.

Ask any shopkeeper if it is important to have employees that are engaged, customer focused, service oriented and trustworthy. Undoubtedly you’ll get a resounding YES!

Even in mega corporations understand this…for example FedEx’s Company Culture is People-Service-Profit. They know, for a fact, the important role that each and every employee plays in the success or failure of their business.

“Take care of our people; they in turn, will deliver the impeccable service demanded by our customers, who will reward us with the profitability necessary to secure our future.” – From FedEx Company Culture Webpage

What is so surprising to me, is that as every business grows from a small “mom & pop” shop – to a larger and larger organization, they sometimes loose sight of those simple facts in the transition – and unfortunately in some cases never recover – Enter – Talent Management.

I believe that Talent Management doesn’t have to be overcomplicated. It really is one of those business ideas that people forget they already know about. As a matter of fact, I want to take a moment to try and help remind business leaders of what they may have forgotten about Talent Management using a very basic example – high school gym class, the Dodge Ball Game.

1)   When you were in gym class and two team captains were picking teams – what happened? Did they pick the worst players first or the best players?

  • It’s the same in business – The first step in any sound Talent Management Strategy is making sure you have the right people in place. So you need to make sure you are hiring the right people and retaining the right people.

2)   Before the game started, typically the teacher / coach would go over the rules of the game? And/or if there was a very competitive captain, they might sketch out a game plan. Something like – “ok, Vinnie, you’re going to stand here, Jack you’re going stand there, when the whistle blows, you both throw the ball at Bill at the same time, he’s their best player and we need to take him out first. Jane you wait half a second and then throw your ball too, just in case Vinnie and Jack miss.”

  • Once we have the right people in place, you need to make sure they know what to do. They need to know what your plan is…they need to know What to Expect and What is Expected (of them).

3)   I can remember a time I was on a great team. Once the game started, there was this incredible flurry of activity. People were shouting and yelling from all directions. But the interesting part was, I distinctly remember tuning everyone else out and being able to focus on my teammates. We communicated with each other and worked together as a team to get the other team out. We coached each other, gave each other direction – we were giving each other feedback.

  • To effectively manage talent you have to give constant feedback. You need to consistently give employees both praise and criticism, where appropriate. Help them understand if they are meeting the expectations you set.

4)   The other thing I remember was that after the first game, when we were all catching our breath, the gym teacher came out to the people that weren’t necessarily the best players and tried to help them. He would try to show them how to throw or the best place to stand and position their bodies. In essence, he was trying to develop those that had skill gaps.

  • In every business there is going to be a need to address skill gaps within your employee population, even with your top performers. The key is to recognize this and address it consistently and with purpose. Talent Development is an integral part of any robust Talent Management Strategy.

5)   Back at the gym – if we were doing well, it would be tough to get someone to “sub-out”(let some else come in into the game while another sat out). Why? Because there was no need to…we had the right players. But I always remember that at some point there would be a need to replace a player that was just not cutting it. We needed to address under-performers.

  • I heard someone once say that you have to try to change people’s attitude and aptitude through coaching and development. And if that doesn’t work, you have to Change People.

6)   Finally, at the end of class you would get a grade. The teacher was grading your performance. Sound familiar?

  • Performance Reviews are another great tool to help people see the cumulative effect of their efforts on the goals and expectations you set with them. It’s also a great time to set the expectations going forward.

Of course these concepts are very high level and need significant time and effort to enact. But I would argue not as much as we think. Most of us already know and understand the basic components of a successful Talent Management Strategy… It’s just a matter of remembering to use them.

Developing Effective Training

How to Develop Effective Training Content

Unless you’re teaching others how to use software, there’s a good chance you’ll need a customized training solution. That’s because with something like software, each keystroke has a predetermined result and therefore users need only understand which keys to push and when. Although time-consuming, developing training content of this nature is fairly straightforward.

But the same can’t be said about teaching your employees how to run your business the way you want it run. If it was your job to develop effective training content, would you know how to do it? Would you know what not to do? Don’t worry. Most people who don’t develop training content for a living wouldn’t know these answers, either.

Before you start spending money developing training content, there are a few training content “pre-development” questions that should be answered first such as:

  • Who is your target audience?
    • You might at first think this question is better suited to developing marketing materials not training materials, but think again. As with marketing materials, the message your training materials deliver has to resonate with your market which in this case is your trainees. Otherwise it will fall on deaf ears. So now you need to answer these questions:
  • Who will be using the training materials being developed?
    • For example, will the materials be developed for a particular department or for a particular branch?
  • How many people will be trained during each training session?
  • What is the skill level of and what motivates the group to be trained?

With a clear definition of your target “trainee” it’s time to answer another important question:

  • What are your training goals?
    • For example, is training required to help meet certain sales quotas? Is training required so that your employees are in compliance with certain regulations? Do you hope that those who complete your training emerge with a new or improved set of skills?

Once you have a firm understanding of who you need to train and why he or she needs to be trained, you’ll be better prepared to move on to the next area of consideration, the planning stage.

During this stage you want to get a better idea of when (or how often) such training will take place and where it will take place. Knowing these answers is going to help determine the most effective method of material delivery.

And now, the big question you need to address is:

How can I get my audience from where it is now to where I need it to be within my defined timeframe?

At this stage you’ll need to start thinking about a realistic training budget. You need to know how much you can afford to spend on developing as well as implementing a training program. This answer will significantly impact the development stage.

When it comes to delivering your training content, you have many options. You can develop a “hands-on” training course that can be used in an interactive classroom-type setting. You can develop an entire training course on video or that can be delivered electronically, both of which allow trainees to learn at an individualized pace. You can develop slide shows, hand-outs, webinars, group or individual activities, and more.

If you plan on developing effective training content you really do need to take all of these issues into consideration. But the process doesn’t stop there. You’ve also got to implement the training program and then evaluate it. Here is where you’ll answer what is probably the most important question.

Was the developed training program effective at meeting the goals and objectives outlined previously?

Hopefully the answer is YES!