Day in the life of a sales professional at a private equity firm
Blackstone. KKR. Carlyle. Apollo. EQT. Ares. How many of you dreamed of joining such firms?
Most of you would have wondered – what does a sales professional at a private equity firm do anyway? Do they just wine and dine and play golf all day long with clients?
Having worked in one of the most coveted roles in finance for more than a year, I am happy to share more about a typical day in the life of a sales professional at a private equity firm.
As sales professionals, our main task is fundraising from institutional and private banking clients while servicing existing clients. Relationship management is crucial in this part of the job as existing clients are more likely to conduct repeat investments with you. Being innovative and creative in the way you market / sell your firm’s products can give you an edge over your competitors.
Here’s how a typical day for me look like:
I am in the office by then. My firm is a global one and we work across all three time zones (US, Europe, Asia). I get in office early to have a call with a marketing proposal team based in the US to discuss about an upcoming proposal for a regional insurance company. We have been working on this client for two years in the making, and finally they are interested to invest with us.
I am done with the first call of the day and grab a coffee while catching up on the news in the market. Keeping abreast of what is happening in the world is important as very often clients will ask you for your views. It is also good to know what your competitors are doing so as to stay ahead of the curve. I do some reading on the Finance Times and Wall Street Journal on my iPad. The view outside is amazing. It feels good to be starting your day early while everyone is still asleep.
Source: Connect Media
I am fully awake by now and the sun starts to rise. I respond to overnight emails mainly consisting of client queries asking about updates on our products. Occasionally, we get cold emails from prospective clients through referrals. For queries that are easier and straightforward to answer, I get them out of the way first. For those more challenging queries, I reach out to internal teams without my organization for help.
Colleagues start coming into the office and I have casual chats with them. The personal touch here is important as it allows me to understand more about what they do and who they are as a person. Having a strong internal network can simplify your work by A LOT.
I start getting more calls from clients, asking me on the performance of their fund that they have invested in. We have a 30 minutes catch up and I make sure to keep the relationship warm. Another client calls me saying that she wants to know more about a private equity real estate product that my firm offers, and I gladly send her a pitchbook
It’s planning time. I have an upcoming business trip next week to Hong Kong and Taiwan and I start confirming meetings with clients. I discuss the agenda with them in advance so that I can prepare the pitchbooks and relevant materials, and plan the itinerary for my trip. The logistical aspect of business trips can be quite a pain but that is part and parcel of the job.
I meet a client who is one of our distribution partners for lunch. We discuss about the firm’s offerings, latest updates, and what they plan to do for the coming year. For example, if they share with us their firm’s investment direction for the year, I will see which products that my firm offer may suit them. The full sales cycle process is never a simple one and it can range from as short as three months and up to 2 years.
Source: Dusty Baker
I’m back at my desk and I start working on pitchbooks and materials for my upcoming business trip. No one client is ever the same and hence we have to create different pitchbooks from each. Thank goodness that my firm has a standardized and institutional process which allows me to use slides that are already properly formatted and constructed by my colleagues.
My European colleagues enter and we have catch up calls with them on how to close a deal. We talk about the challenges, the potential questions that they may ask and how to best position the firm. We bounce ideas with each other and conclude our next steps.
Another internal call. This time, it is a brainstorming session to discuss a potential new product to be launched in the market. I am working with the Private Real Estate team on this and we showcase our market research and viability of the product. Our department head is pleased with the initial findings and requested for us to test this idea out with our clients.
I start to feel tired during this time given that my day started so early. I grab a hot drink and try to wrap up my day. I plan ahead in advance for tomorrow and also map out a list of prospective clients to engage with.
I head to the gym for a workout to as to clear my mind. In a sales role, it can be extremely draining especially if you do not set aside your own personal time. I find that hitting the gym and going for boxing workouts help me to think clearer and also de-stress. I try to maintain a discipline working out schedule as a healthy mind and body will lead to better results.
I’m home and I reduce the intensity of my work, just replying sparingly to emails so that I can catch up on my personal free time. I watch Shark Tank, which gives me a lot of ideas on how to pitch to clients as well.
Sales is never a nine to five job. It requires a lot of hard work, tenacity, and drive to succeed. Clients can contact you anytime and you need to be responsive as speed is essence here. However, it is one of the most entrepreneurial role within an institutional setup as you get to use your own style to pitch to clients.
How many of you prefer a sales role as compared to an investment role? Comment in the box below.