Increase your batting average on extended warranty sales

By J.R. Zirkelbach, New Leaf Service Contracts

I played a lot of softball back in the day.

I certainly wasn’t the best player on the team, but I could hold my own. I was decent in the field, could throw pretty well and hit for average. There was one thing, however, that I never learned to do: Hit to the opposite field.

For those of you not familiar with the term, hitting to opposite field means to hit the ball to your weak side. A right-handed batter’s weak side is right field; a left-handed batter’s weak side is left field.

It feels unnatural to hit to the opposite field. Doing so requires different alignment in the batter’s box, a change in your timing and adjustments to your swing.

Batters hit to the opposite field because of the advantage in doing so, namely that the defense is often not expecting it and it increases your chances of getting a hit. In addition, a ball hit to the opposite field often travels a shorter distance, which means the defender has to run for it. Also, the ball usually hooks in the air, which makes it more difficult for the defender to get a bead on it. And if the ball hits the ground, it usually bounces sideways due to the spin, which increases the chances of the defender misplaying it.

If you’re not currently selling extended service plans (ESPs) in your business, the thought of doing so probably feels like hitting to the opposite field. It feels unnatural. It requires doing things that you are not accustomed to or comfortable doing. That said, you would probably agree that there are distinct advantages to selling ESPs, and that this is a product that should be within your comfort zone.

I’ll admit that I gave up on learning to hit to the opposite field. I tried a few times, had little success, and settled on just doing what I was comfortable doing. There was one game in particular when I played right field; it was an important game, against a rival that often challenged us for the league championship.

The score was tied, it was the bottom of the final inning and they had a runner in scoring position. The batter was right handed and I didn’t expect him to hit to me, but he did. The ball was short and I ran for it, but then saw that it was hooking away. I couldn’t get to it in time to make the catch, so I planned to play it on the bounce and make a throw home.

But when the ball landed it shot sideways, causing me to run past it. It rolled into the outfield, the run scored and we lost the game.

Listen, you don’t need me to tell you that the retail game is a tough one. The score (profit margin) is tight. You play against formidable opponents (big-box stores). The field (terms) is not always level. The fans (customers) are fickle and fair-weather.

Whether it’s retail or softball, the only way to win is to put runs across the plate, and you need every advantage to do so. So help your salespeople learn to “hit to the opposite field” and become pros at selling extended service plans. 

J.R. Zirkelbach is a business development executive at New Leaf Service Contracts with 30 years’ experience in retail. New Leaf-administered service contracts can provide an enhanced customer experience, earnings opportunities for salespeople, and increased profitability for BrandSource members. Contact J.R. at

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