InSights - What you didn't know you didn't know

Leveraging the Techniques of Moneyball to put a great Sales Force on the Field

Many times sports analogies are too frequently used as points of reference in general business and particularly within sales. However, the movie Moneyball is an exceptional example of how sports can teach businesses a lesson or two about effective talent management.

The central premise of Moneyball is that the collected wisdom of baseball insiders (including players, managers, coaches, scouts, and the front office) over the past century is subjective and often flawed. Statistics such as stolen bases, runs batted in, and batting average, typically used to gauge players, are relics of a 19th century view and the statistics that were available at the time. The book, The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, written by Michael Lewis, argues that the front office of the Oakland A’s took advantage of more analytical gauges of player performance to field a team that could compete successfully against richer competitors in Major League Baseball.  Rigorous statistical analysis as outlined in Moneyball had demonstrated that on-base percentage and slugging percentage are better indicators of offensive success, and the A’s became convinced that these qualities were cheaper to obtain on the open market than more historically valued qualities such as speed and contact. These observations often flew in the face of conventional wisdom and the beliefs of many baseball scouts and executives.

By re-evaluating the strategies that produce wins on the field, the 2002 Athletics, with approximately $41 million in salary, were competitive with larger market teams such as the New York Yankees, who spent over $125 million in payroll that same season. Because of the team’s smallers revenues, Oakland is forced to find players undervalued by the market, and their system for finding value in undervalued players has proven itself thus far.

Whether we work for small companies or the world’s largest, we are all faced with economic barriers. Companies must work more creatively and implement the needed tools to help them manage their “people” with the most current and progressive methods. Looking for true behaviors versus personality traits is a good start and utilizing research-based analytics for more accurate talent management, just like selecting baseball players, is a necessity.

For more information about Chally’s research-based talent management solutions for selection, development and succession as well as a talent audit, contact us at Or for the full white paper on Leveraging Techniques of Moneyball, go to