What can sports analytics teach us about lead management?


Share on LinkedIn

There is a huge trend underway right now in professional sports where teams are using advanced statistical analytics to find out more than ever before about which elements of player performance truly make the biggest difference in winning games. Sports analytics are becoming a complement to traditional forms of player evaluation, such as scouting, where experienced experts evaluate which players have the potential to succeed at the highest levels. Sports analytics are also affecting the strategy of how managers assemble their personnel and how coaches make in-game plans – certain skills become more important and certain player combinations become more focused as part of the coaches’ game plans based not on traditional intuition, but on hard evidence backed by statistics.

For example, baseball analytics experts discovered that on base percentage (hits plus walks) was a more important statistic than batting average alone. Teams in the National Hockey League, such as the Chicago Blackhawks, are now using advanced analytics to figure out which players contribute to putting the most shots on goal and possessing the puck for the longest duration during the game, since both of these stats correlate strongly with winning games. The NBA is playing a very different style of basketball, with fewer long 2-point jump shots and more 3-point shots as teams have tried to get more efficient in maximizing their chances of getting points with every possession – this article in ESPN describes how some NBA observers are confused by the L.A. Lakers’ approach to sports analytics, because they don’t seem to be pursuing it as aggressively as other teams in the league.

There are some lessons here for business owners – just as sports are using more advanced statistics to evaluate their players and build a successful team, your company needs to use some “statistical analysis” for your sales leads.

Here are a few examples of how you can take a more systematic analytic approach to your lead generation efforts:

Create a Ranking Process for Your Sales Leads: Do you know which sales leads are “good” and which ones are not? Do you know how to find out? It sounds crazy, but many B2B companies are not doing any formal evaluation process to rank and sort their sales leads. As a result, their sales teams are flying blind. Create an initial lead qualifying process to ask questions upfront to learn more about your customers and sort and prioritize your sales leads, even if it’s as simple as “1, 2, 3” or “A, B, C.”

Don’t Overlook Undervalued Stats: There’s more to making sales than closing deals. You also need to create a sales funnel with multiple steps of the sales process so you can calculate your conversion rates at each stage. For example, maybe your sales team is good at qualifying sales leads upfront, but has a lower conversion rate in asking customers to commit to meeting with your sales people for an online presentation. By tracking the stats at each stage of the sales funnel, you can figure out where your strengths and weaknesses are, and adjust accordingly.

Help the Team Get Better: One of the insights from NHL hockey analytics used by the Chicago Blackhawks is that sometimes certain underrated players will do better in certain situations or with different combinations of teammates – statistical analysis helps the Blackhawks put together a team that is stronger and more competitive than if they were only relying on the traditional scouting reports about who “appears” to be the best players. In the same way, your sales team needs to bring together the strengths and competitive advantages of lots of different people. Maybe you have some people on the team who are great closers, and others who are good at qualifying leads upfront – find a way to get everyone working together and playing off of each other’s strengths.

It doesn’t have to be as advanced or complex as the NBA, but you should have some kind of organized ranking and analysis for which sales leads are truly “good” and “qualified” leads, and which ones need more development and nurturing. You can also use the principles of sports analytics to improve the way you evaluate your sales people and build a winning sales team for the long term.

Al Davidson
Al Davidson is the founder of Strategic Sales & Marketing, a "leading light" among lead generation companies, delivering B2B lead generation and b2b appointment setting services for clients ranging from local small businesses to the Fortune 100. Since 1989, the company's sales agents have generated over 7 million sales leads, and created millions of dollars for clients.


  1. “There’s more to making sales than closing deals.”

    This fact gets lost on a lot of people, especially C-level execs who only care about the bottom line. Take a moment and take a look at your sales process as a whole. Are there any data points that could use improvement? Making changes to one component of the sales cycle can mean great results for sales overall.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here