By Ed McLaughlin —

At the company I started, USI Companies Inc, we had a very productive sales force.  We honed our value proposition, organized for battle, and relentlessly pursued every target as though our lives depended on it.  There was a point when one of our competitors exclaimed: “You (USI) win every time.”  Building an effective Sales Force is vital to every organization that has a product or service that requires face-to-face contact with the customer to secure an order.

USI was a small multi-million dollar upstart in the real estate outsourcing space surrounded by multi-billion dollar competitors including CBRE, Jones Lang LaSalle and Cushman & Wakefield to name a few.  We did win more than our fair share.  We did it by recognizing that selling is a contact sport.  USI was highly selective in recruiting and investing in the very best athletes to obtain the very best results.

Let’s delve deeper into the Value Principle that Selling is a Contact Sport:  Not everyone likes contact sports.  Not everyone is good at contact sports.  Contact sports are physical, direct and active.  You need to be highly competitive, thick-skinned and productive in your position.  You can get hurt playing contact sports.  There is a winner and there is a loser.  The better you execute your role the more apt your team will win. 

Deciding to try-out and participate in contact sports is a choice.    When you make that choice, you are agreeing to fulfill a role, responsibility and duty to your team.  You may make the team, you may get cut.  Most contact sports require extensive coaching, preparation, training, special equipment, and a well-developed game plan including advanced strategy and tactics.  Contact sports require investment of time, money and skill development.  The best athletes expect to win every time.  When the best athletes do not win, they suffer but apply what they have learned to the next contest. 

Building an effective sales force is expensive and time-consuming.  There are no short-cuts.  If you fill your roster with second-rate talent, you should expect second-rate results.  Since the sales force is the face of the organization to the customer, it is imperative to be highly-selective and recognize that selling embodies all of the characteristics of contact sports.