Sales - a Marathon or a Sprint?

By Eric Bourret

Being one of the few sales people in my network of close friends I am often asked if sales are like a Marathon (long term & long cycle) or a Sprint (short term & short cycle)? What I think my friends really ask is how you manage a sales cycle, do run like crazy to close a deal or do you build long-term relationships with your clients and partners.

Let me tell you a story…

I have been working as an IT professional for many years until I decided to follow MY path and made the jump to sales. Back then, coming from an IT background, I thought everything in life was either black or white, right or wrong, 0 or 1…

I quickly learned that sales were not an easy gig and I had quickly learned to work in gray zones because it’s not an exact science. Today working in the gray zone is what I like most about sales! Why? Because it forces me to be resourceful and creative! As sales people, I get to work with many, many people who are just like you and I “human beings.” They have their own personality and style and you need to adjust to them. My mentor use to say that a sales person is a Chameleon; basically, he meant that if you want to be happy and successful in sales you have to adjust to connect to your customer and understand HIS or HER needs and motivations.  Some people expect a fast-paced interaction and other expect to build long-lasting relationships and you need to adjust yourself to this reality. Therefore, I believe that sales are a sprint AND a marathon. Keep in mind that even the fastest marathon runners can still sprint a mile at a four-minute pace.


As a salesperson, I worked on developing the skills to do both, the sprint & the marathon. So, I’ll be closing deals on the short term, while building long-term nurturing potential business relationships, and writing proposals all at the same time. On top of that there is also having to do some administrative work such as: Monthly expense reports, management meetings and CRM data entry that comes along the way.

The administrative part is definitely the boring part of the work, BUT it’s a healthy habit to get used to log important information in a CRM (such as Marketing Cloud or Pardot for instance) so that you don’t forget important meetings, information, in order to take good care of your customer. If you don’t take good care of them someone else will, meaning that you risk losing their business…

Most experienced manager says that you must always have a quarterly plan. This allows setting goals and working on reaching them to make your numbers. Having quarterly goals allows breaking down what has to be done each week to make sure that we hit those goals. So, it is key to have a goal, and leave some room for adjustment since sales isn’t an exact science and you’ll get some good and not as good news along the way.

The key was to find a balance and run a marathon (building long-term relationships and Partnerships) and keep a bit of your breath to run the sprints when need be along the way. The best time to nurture and develop your future business is during a quiet time, don’t get lazy and keep up with your marathon pace during those weeks to foster your future key business. Don’t underestimate the importance of lead nurturing: you can learn the best practices here.

With time, experience or even better with a mentor, you’ll learn that one of the most important things is to start with a big picture, plan your marathon and keep in mind that you’ll have to sprint sometimes, usually more often than you thought!

So, are you running a Marathon or a Sprint? Got to make sure you pick the right strategy!