It was game three of the World Series, 1932. The New York Yankees versus the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Score tied 4-4.
An aging Babe Ruth steps up to the plate while being mercilessly taunted by the Cubs' bench.
As the legend goes, Ruth raised his arm to point toward center field.
"That's where I'm going to send the next pitch," was the implicit, unspoken message.
He swung the bat and knocked that pitch 440 feet directly into center field, where he had just pointed.
And here we are, still talking about it nearly 85 years later.
There's some dispute as to what really happened that October day. Ruth definitely gestured to somewhere, or someone, and he definitely hit a homer. The rest is murky. (The Wikipedia page for the event is longer than that of the Zapruder film.)
There's a reason the story is appealing, and easily the most legendary tale from a larger than life figure.
He told everyone exactly what he was going to do, and then he followed through.
From the perspective of a business, we'd all like to replicate this. To look a potential customer in the eye, tell them what you're going to do for them, then knock it out of the park.
We think it's possible to not only call your shot, but to do it every time.
Let us explain...
How to Call Your Shot with Customers
A lot of businesses are great at marketing and getting someone to buy their product. As we've said many times before, sales is a game you can rig to your advantage.
Engagement and loyalty offer no cheat codes.
The best path to an ongoing relationship with customers is knowing what you do for them that they can't get anywhere else, and following through with it.
That doesn't mean features or bells and whistles you bring to the table. It's the end result.
Babe Ruth didn't stand at the plate and discuss his solid wood bat or his improved swing motion.
No, he just pointed to center field, where he was about to hit a home run.
Build your business and your brand around the customer's desired outcome.
What if The Babe had walked to the plate, pointed at first base, and announced he was going to first on a walk?
How boring would that be?
"Wow Babe, that's…uhhh…really somethin' else. You...uhh…go for it, buddy."
We wouldn't be talking about it today.
But what if the bases were loaded and the ensuing run walked in would put the Yankees ahead?
It wouldn't be as sexy as a home run, but just as effective. It would've fulfilled the need, and he would've delivered exactly what he promised.
The first step of calling your shot is a realistic assessment of what customers need from you.
Don't Promise What You Can't Deliver
A lot of companies make big promises. Obviously very few of those are following through, otherwise we'd have cheerier loyalty statistics to report on.
If you're positive you can deliver doubles, do it. Plenty of people are thrilled with doubles, and they'll be even more excited when they get a homerun.
In normal person language, that means don't overpromise.
Promise exactly what you can deliver.
If you can't deliver it, don't promise it. Those are called scams.
No matter what you sell, most people aren't looking for the most amazing version of it. They want value, something that will satisfy a need for them at a fair price.
That's your baseline.
That's what you need to achieve with every customer that comes in the door, at minimum.
Use Customer Engagement Tactics to Help the Customer Help Themselves
Start there, but the goal of your engagement should always be to help put customers in position to get the most of out your product or service.
Whether it's running shoes, plumbing, Italian food, discount programs, advertising services, upholstery - meet the basic need, but always create a path to the most exceptional experience you offer.
Build expertise, educate, and inform, and people will personalize your business. They'll turn your double into a home run on their own, even.
Overdeliver Every Time
Delivering on promises is the way to earn trust. Doing more earns loyalty.
Overdelivering value is the undisputed king of business-customer relationship building. It always will be.
You've promised them home runs and delivered...but what else can you do? What can you add that will make that home run seem like a bargain?
Maybe it's taking the initiative toward the next home run, or adding an extra run before the inning ends.
We're swimming in baseball jargon here, but hopefully you get the point.
Things like post-transaction service, freebies, upgrades all add additional value to the customer with minimal cost to you. And they make all the difference in the world.
In reality, Babe really had no idea if he would hit a home run out of the park or not. The pitcher could've simply struck him out, or just walked him intentionally. The whole thing could've been…well, like this wonderful GIF.
Businesses don't have to run the risk of not coming through on their promises.
We think you can call your shot in business every time.
If you find the right customer (whose needs you can surely address), put the right measurements and engagement strategies in place, and make the right promises, you can confidently tell them what you're going to do, do it, then remind them how you did it.
It might be a home run every time. It might be a single. Whatever it is, make sure it's what the customer is looking for.
Do it enough times, and they may be talking about you 85 years from now.