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Decision Making Systems to Employ in your Investment Marketing & Sales Efforts

Everything you do as an investment marketing professional can be segmented into sets of distinct decisions.  In an article entitled “Great Escapes” in Fortune magazine, Michael and Jerry Useem refer to tools that can help you effectively manage decision-making processes.  These tools are applicable to managing yourself or your sales team and should assist you in analyzing your own decision-making systems or processes.       

Burn the Boat

"No matter how far you've gone down the wrong road, turn back."

                                       - Turkish proverb

In the 1960’s, Symour Cray ran two unrelated businesses, selling both sailboats and supercomputers.  His supercomputers were unique having several designed-in extras such as decorative fountains. While he spent much time customizing his supercomputers, he realized that they would be obsolescent within a year or two.  To help remind himself of this reality, and drive the point home to his team, he builds a beautiful sailboat every spring and burns it the following fall. 

It can be very hard to throw away something one has invested time, money, or personal image into.  In the 1920’s, Henry Ford wrote, “My advice to young men is to be ready to revise any system, scrap any methods, and abandon any theory if the success of the job demands it.”  Ford followed this strategy himself until sticking to his own original strategy lead to his company’s decline and General Motor’s jump in market share.

What is your sales team spending time on that is no longer effective?  What are you still doing in the name of tradition or because it was profitable yesterday?  Ensure that you are burning your boat every fall and not proclaiming innovation while resting on laurels of past success, as was in the case of Henry Ford. 

“I try to learn from the past, but I plan for the future by focusing exclusively on the present.”

                                                      - Donald Trump

Voice Questions

Good managers want employees to voice their opinions.  Managing conflicting ideas is how you extract value out of a diverse sales or management team.   “If you walk into a room as a senior person and innocently say, ‘Here’s what I’m thinking about this,’ you’ve already skewed people’s thinking,” says Marine Gen. Peter Pace, who was nominated to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  He recommends to “start with a question and don’t voice an opinion.”  This way no one can line up behind you reinforcing your original idea instead of stating his or her own perspective on the situation.  “If you are looking for answers, ask the question,” advises Pace, and “you ought to be the first person to self-critique.”  Be cognizant of how your own views are affecting the actions of your teammates.  Strive towards excellence in decision-making and execution, not unanimous agreement on all decisions.   

Let the battle rage

Similar to the lesson suggested above, another tried and true value of competitive competencies is letting conflicts work themselves out.  Arguments based on principles of the decision, and not political camps are healthy and push everyone to analyze the true merits of each case. 

In the 1980’s, Gillette experienced some beneficial internal conflicts while debating whether to meet Bic, Inc. in the market with cheap plastic razors or invest millions in developing a higher quality metal version.  CEO Colman Mockler let the divisions fight it out.  For nearly two years, Mockler played a neutral position until finally declaring the new metal razor camp the winner.

Educate your instincts

Should you trust your gut?  That depends on what you are made of.   What experience and education have you been exposed to that makes your instincts more robust?  The instincts of a veteran police officer have been shaped by years of experience, so when his gut tells him that something is wrong it is usually right.  Research shows that others with less experience in similar situations perform poorly because the unconscious intuitions have not been developed.  Your mind calls upon hundreds of resources every minute that you are not even aware of.  In Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink” he refers to “thin slicing.”  This is his terminology for the second analysis of situations or ideas that we conduct while making a decision. If you or the person making the decision is cognizant of the important variables at hand and has made similar decisions their gut reaction should probably be trusted. 

Keep this in mind when managing your sales team.  What sales and industry-based newsletters have your employees subscribed too? What books do you recommend to them and how can you support further education on their part?  The minute you have to manage anyone, you have made a poor hiring decision.  Identify people with great instincts, a thirst for knowledge, and a hunger for learning.




  1. June 27th Fortune Magazine page 97-102 “Great Escapes” Time, Inc. Copyright © 2005 Volume 151 No. 13.


Hard work has made it easy. That is my secret. That is why I win.

                                                                                                       - Nadia Comaneci  (Olympian - won 5 god medals in one year)


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