The surprising way working in sales development mimics investment strategy

Posted February 16, 2018

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By Joe Vignolo

Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach

Guest post by Sam Silverman, Sales Development Representative, Wolf of Wall Street

Diversify, diversify, diversify!

If you have ever met with a financial advisor — or just scanned an online list of tips — you have probably come across the recommendation to diversify your investments.  That means you should spread your money around and invest in a number of different assets.

It’s classic advice for a good reason: Diversifying is the simplest way to manage your risk. In your mix of assets, you'll have stocks, which have a high potential for gains but also can lead to loss. To balance out this possible rollercoaster of risk, investment portfolios will typically also contain bonds, which generate a low but steady rate of return. It’s up to you to turn the dial, work the levers and determine how risk-averse — or adventurous — you want to be with your investments.  

But how, you may be wondering, does this relate to sales? As it turns out, this strategy of having a diverse portfolio makes sense in the sales world, too.

In Sales, Your Time Has Huge Value

Duh, right? Doesn’t time always have value? Yes, but here's the twist: While investors want to diversify where they place their money, smart salespeople diversify how they spend their time. That’s because when it’s your priority to generate leads, time is essential. Each day, you have a finite amount of time to devote to prospecting — and once those hours go by, you’ll never get it back.

If time is a salesperson’s currency, what’s the best use way to invest it so you and your company see the biggest return?

The Answer: A Mix of Time Investments

There are two main ways to prospect, which correlate nicely with the risk — and return — levels of stocks and bonds.

First up: The stock-like, high-risk option, which is accompanied by a correspondingly higher potential payoff. I’m talking about the personalized pitch. While a well-crafted and researched pitch may land you an amazing customer, as with stocks, there are risks involved. Even the best pitches sent to high-value, target accounts that are a good fit for your company’s product won’t necessarily work out. That means there’s no guarantee your pitch will be successful — and if it isn’t, all that time devoted to assembling it is gone for good.

Your next option: The safer, bond-like choice. To reduce your risk of lost time with no returns, salespeople can turn to automated sequences. Like bonds, automated sequences are a safe, secure option. Outreach’s data allows you to examine historical averages — much like taking a look bond charts for a certain date range — so that you can know with great precision how many prospects you need to add to a sequence to get a certain rate of return. In an uncertain climate, making data-driven decisions as to which sales approach to use is key to reducing risk.

But Weren’t We Talking About Diversification?

And this brings us back to my initial point: Diversification. A smart salesperson — just like a knowledgeable investor — will use a mix of steady and daring options. By leveraging both personalized pitches and automated sequences, you can smartly manage your risk and maximize your returns. At the same time, as you explore challenging new markets, you can rest on the security of steady results through automation.


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