Marginal Gains in Sales

Marginal Gains in Sales

Marginal gains are a brand new but big part of the culture at Finlay James and it has been amazing to watch it in motion. For this reason, I thought there was no better time or topic to do my first blog on than ways we at FJ, and sales professionals in general, can achieve those small gains that lead to big results!

But what are marginal gains?

 “The 1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do.” – Dave Brailsford

The marginal gains philosophy was first introduced by Dave Brailsford, former Performance Director of British Cycling and current Team Sky Manager, in the build up to the Beijing Olympics. It was based on the belief that if you improved every area around an athlete’s performance by just 1%, their overall performance would be remarkably improved.

However, this theory is not just limited to cyclists or sports people in general, but is something that can be applied to many aspects of life, including work.

Sales professionals, by nature, are driven and are always looking to improve, to be the best that they can be.  So, what can sales professionals do to achieve these marginal gains?


If we are always getting feedback, we are always improving. Even comments that seem trivial could, as a collective, be the shortcomings in our sales, our pitches, and the difference between closing deals!

Determination and resilience

Sports people often have to face disappointment, as do sales professionals. Only 2% of sales occur at a first meeting, which means that if we aren’t persisting, with leads or terms negotiation, we aren’t doing ourselves justice. If we have this persistent mind-set every day, it could lead to those results we are looking for!

Long and short sightedness

The long game is important in terms of building a relevant and extensive network, but by also having  small tasks to focus on  everyday, helps us to granulise our targets and make them much more achievable!  Having the relationship building mentality whilst also seeing the value in the small things we do daily, rather than the end game of what we have achieved on a Friday, can be the difference between a good or bad week.

Good time keeping

Good time keeping is essential in sales. By having a well planned out diary, you leave no time for thumb twiddling, and cancel out the chance of a missed call or meeting that could cost you a deal!


Sales professionals should always be looking to learn and expand their mind. Continually learning, no matter what stage in your career you are at, is essential; if we look at what the mighty Blockbuster could have learned from the once start up Netflix, we see that there is always something to be gained from being open to change, and embracing advancements and new styles.


Teaching is as important as learning within the sales industry.  Working within a team, sales professionals often need to pull together and pool areas of talent and expertise to close a deal; a strong internal network is worth its weight in gold, as the old adage goes, you are only as strong as your weakest link! Sharing knowledge and expertise within your team not


Being an expert in your field is crucial, if instead of playing candy crush on your way home you spent an hour reading  articles related to your field, not only are you improving your knowledge but you’re giving yourself relevant talking and selling points to consult with your clients about.

Self belief

Last, but certainly not least, is self belief. The power of a positive mind-set cannot be quantified as I am a great believer in self-fulfilling prophecies. If you believe you are going to have a slow Monday you will probably make less calls, and the ones you do make are likely not to be great quality. Impacting not only the person on the other end, but also perpetuating negative thoughts.  However, if you go in to your office with a positive mind-set on what you’re going to achieve this Monday, you’re more like to achieve the goals you have set out!