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The One Golden Rule of Sales

By: Morgan Holycross

Originally posted on July 03, 2021
Last updated on September 28, 2021

Sales has a million different components that lead to success. These can be anything from handling objections, product knowledge, active listening, among others. More than that, your strategy and approach will differ from client to client.

The sales team at Dakota believes that there’s one golden rule to sales that every salesperson needs to gain an understanding of and include in their sales process.

At Dakota, investment firms hire us to raise money for their mutual funds and separate accounts. Since 2006 we have raised over $35 billion for our clients. We owe our successes to a simple, 3-step process known as The Dakota Way.

In this post we will give light to the golden rule of sales, then transition into The Dakota Way. After concluding your reading you’ll have an understanding of the golden rule and clarity on how to tie in The Dakota Way to your sales process.

What is the golden rule of sales?

The golden rule of sales is: pitch to people who buy what you sell. After all, why would you try to sell someone something they have no interest in, or any use for? The simple answer? You wouldn’t! Doing so would be a waste of your team’s time and resources, with very little pay off. 

At Dakota, our motto is: “Sell apples to apple buyers.” This means that you should focus on the audience that buys your product, rather than wasting time trying to convince them of a need they do not have. So, sell apples to apply buyers, don’t try to convince an orange buyer they might want an orange instead.

Now that we’ve covered what the one golden rule of sales is, we’ll cover two key ways you and your sales team can apply it for success. 

How to apply the golden rule of sales 

1. Stay Disciplined

Most people fall off the wagon because they’re not rigorous enough on themselves; they don’t have enough precision around determining who their ideal buyer is. They go a mile wide and an inch deep. How is this going to benefit them? The correct answer is that it isn’t. Focus on growing your list of prospects and leads, and working it until it’s the single source of truth for your sales team. 

This is also known as finding and growing your Total Addressable Market (TAM). We have an entire article dedicated to finding out just how to do this

2. Call on the right people

Another common reason people fail to sell successfully is because they enjoy calling on big brand names and big firms. While this might feel good from an ego standpoint, it won’t work out in the end if those big brands don’t need the product you’re selling. 

Instead, the key is to stay hyper focused on people who do buy what you sell. You can call on one huge brand and spend hours preparing for the meeting, only to come up empty in the end. However, that same time can be spent preparing for meetings with several smaller brands who have a need and want to hear what you have to say. 

If you can be incredibly disciplined in finding the right fit buyer, the true customer, and focus your energy on them and building that group and only calling on that group, you’ll find success. 

At Dakota, we’ve applied these principles for over fifteen years, and have found it to be a successful, replicable method to sales. In this next section, we’ll explore what the Dakota Way is, how it relates to the golden rule, and how you can use it to take your sales process to the next level. 

What is The Dakota Way?

The Dakota Way is a sales methodology that has helped the Dakota sales team raise $35B since 2006. It’s made up of three components: know who to call on, know what to say, and have a killer follow-up system. Separately, these things may seem simple, but when combined, they can create a powerful sales process that will lead your team to success. 

Below, we'll explain each piece of The Dakota Way and how you can apply it. 

1. Know Who to Call On

Like we mentioned above, the primary focus of your sales effort should be to people who buy what you sell.

If you specialize in mutual funds, you need to call on allocators who deal in mutual funds: RIAs, ETFs, and separate accounts. Keep in mind that identifying the appropriate channels and contacts within each account can take a lot of time and legwork before you ask for a meeting. 

2. Know What to Say

Sadly this step is overlooked, but it’s so critical. Simply getting a meeting with the right person is not enough. To win business, you need to master the art of the pitch. 

Institutional investors need to understand your story and how you got to the numbers. You’ll have to use carefully chosen words to bring your story to life while addressing the questions an institutional investor wants answered. Talking performance won’t be enough. 

3. Have a Killer Follow-Up System

After getting the meeting and nailing the pitch, it’s critical that you follow up. Typically, most investment salespeople send a thank-you email with some marketing materials. But institutional investors get so many emails, they may never see it, let alone read it or respond. 

If your follow-up begins and ends with a single generic email, you’re losing sales. You need a follow-up system that helps you continue the conversation with allocators in a meaningful way.

Find Who You’re Supposed to Call On

Now that we’ve covered the golden rule of sales and The Dakota Way strategy, go put it into practice! It seems simple enough, but far too often people breeze over these steps. 

By hyper focusing on who to call on, knowing what to say, and having a killer follow up system you and your sales team will begin to see improvements with sales. It’s worked for us for 15 years, and we stand by it.

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