How to Sell Like General George Patton

By Jeff Beals

The late George S. Patton, a United States Army general who played a major role in World War II, uttered many famous quotes during his storied career. Some of them were controversial and some had colorful language not appropriate for this article. Nevertheless, Patton had a knack for witty, impactful lines that continue to motivate people 70 years after his death.

Of all his quotes, my favorite is: “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

That quote is particularly valuable for people who sell products and services for a living.

Good sales practice requires that you do research and background work before making contact with prospective clients. You never want to pick up the phone or go into a prospect’s office unprepared.

But some sales pros use research and preparation as a stalling technique, a semi-conscious effort to delay taking action.

Sometimes it’s a case of confidence as many sales people dread approaching an influential decision-maker they have never met. Some prospective clients are so accomplished, that reaching out to them can be intimidating.

Other sales people might fear losing their “one chance” to make the right impression. They tell themselves, “If I can only learn a little bit more about this person and their company, I’ll finally be ready to contact them.”

Prospect research is critically important, but don’t take it too far. Don’t fall into the sales version of the analysis-paralysis trap.

If you find yourself stalling before making a call or before pressing “send” on an almost-but-no-quite-perfect email, ask yourself if you’re hesitating for no good reason. Be honest with yourself.

Sell like General Patton!

No plan will ever be perfect, but when it’s good enough to go, move forward with confidence.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to or email at or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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