At the Bottom of it All: Sales

Mary Pilon at the WSJ had a cover story over the weekend on the education of the door-to-door sales force at retail stock brokerage firm Edward Jones; a financial firm that is growing in the face of our bear markets.

It is a great reminder of the importance of getting out there and doing it when it comes to sales (especially for new brokers and those of working with a startup) and also that no matter what the market, there is always opportunity.

The story, of course, includes some great vignettes (it is the offbeat cover story from this past weekend’s edition). Here are a couple good snippets:

At least three times a week, Jim Haston puts on a suit and tie and goes door-to-door in this town of 7,500. He’s pitching investments during the chilliest of bear markets.

In the 13 months since he started working the streets, Mr. Haston, 41 years old, has had dozens of doors slammed in his face. He has climbed a tree to rescue a stranded child. He has walked through summer heat and below-freezing winter weather. He has also attracted $2.1 million in new assets.

“I get nervous all the time,” says Mr. Haston, a financial adviser for St. Louis investment firm Edward Jones. He sometimes breaks out in a sweat in his gleaming green 2001 Chevy pickup before he walks up to a house.

In the midst of the worst stock market since the 1930s, Edward Jones has been growing the old-fashioned way: knocking on doors. The company is unrivaled in that business. Whereas other securities firms are shrinking, its 12,000-broker force has added 998 brokers this year. It plans to add another 5,000 by 2012, according to Jim Weddle, the firm’s chief executive.

In its school of hard knocks, Edward Jones puts all of it brokers through a five-day training session before sending them out on the street. They are taught to hold a golf ball in their hands so that knocks are loud and knuckles don’t wear down.

Any tips or tricks for your industry. I definitely set goals when it comes to cold calling. No matter what one is selling, you need big numbers (relative to your industry/market) when you are starting up.


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