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Winning the Investment Sales War

Think of your sales efforts as a war, with each day being a separate battle.  Yes, there are many differences between wars and business competition, but it’s useful to think of business in these terms for time management and priority setting purposes.  You should act as a sales commando, fulfilling the role you are trained to perform while working with your team to complete your mission.  If you have someone who is great at identifying and approaching new sales prospects, have them focus on that effort, and spend less time creating sales presentation materials, so you can focus on areas where you provide the most value.  In other words, do not put your best sniper on half time as the cook.  This is a simple idea, but one often overlooked while expanding sales teams. 

“Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle -- when the sun comes up, you had better be running.”

                                                                         - Author Unknown

Each day’s “battle” is waged from 9AM-5PM, or whenever the typical hours of client cultivation are within your industry.  Organize your day to take advantage of the hours when the battle is being waged.  Either you are executing on sales opportunities or your competitors are.  Complete all non-revenue generating preparation activities before or after the “battle” hours.  Dedicate segmented times within your week for cultivating clients who are moving along each of the 6 “I”s steps towards a completed sale.  Try to mix up the scheduling of these activities to keep yourself on your toes and improve your ability to attract clients that are more profitable.  An example of doing this would be switching your call times from 10-11am to 2-3pm so that you will catch a different set of people who are available at that time.  The more thorough you are in systematically cultivating major clients, the more successful you will be.  Try to schedule “non-battle” hours for improving industry, product, or sales knowledge.  What can you outsource or minimize to use your time more effectively? 

Example:  Mary Ellen knows how to fight sales battles and win.  She dedicates seven hours of phone time every business day at her recruiting desk in North Carolina.  She brings in over one million dollars a year for her firm by completing all research outside of her calling hours, and then calling all day long, moving business forward.  She is a great example of someone who consistently maximizes her use of time.

Be aware of the number of “battle” days within each month and quarter and what you expect to get out of him or her.  Know where you are and where you should be within your sales goal timelines to get the most out of each day.  If you do not work full time on sales, try to choose a reasonable amount of time to dedicate towards it each day.  Every half-hour a day of sales work, adds an extra day’s worth of sales work every month. 

Use all of your down time efficiently, and in a way that promotes the productiveness of your battle hours.  Always have something on hand to review or read while waiting for a client or waiting in line somewhere.  Have a collection of sales CDs to listen to or lists of people you can call while driving so that you use your commute time as a competitive advantage against those who listen to music while on their way to work.  The average U.S. worker spends at least thirty minutes in the car on the way to and from work.  Using this time for phone calls and professional development can make a significant difference on your level of sales performance over the course of a quarter.  How are you investing your time?  (1)

“The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day.”

                         -Gloria Steinem (Founder of Ms. Magazine)

Not many managers have time to calculate the confidence interval probabilities for their decisions.  Sales team managers need to come up with creative strategies, and make confident decisions that are timely, yet not perfect.  Results are what counts, and time is always in low supply.  Many sales managers or team leaders are afraid to make bold decisions.  It often seems that if the wrong decision is made it may ruffle someone’s feathers, or simply add risk to your otherwise safe position.  Many decision makers do not know how much positive information is enough to take a risk. 

The Marine Corps addresses this issue with the “70% Execution Solution.”  Meaning if you have 70% of the total information targeted as valuable, have done 70% of the analysis, and feel 70% confident of the answer, then move forward with a decision.  Intelligently designed execution is more valuable then no execution.  Endless analysis is a drain on company resources.

Apply this lesson to your decision-making process and standards.  Agile sales forces can reposition themselves on profitable ground, while less agile ones will make sure you could have been reaping above average profits before they join the party.




  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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