Thursday, June 28, 2012

True Sales Hunters Made Farmers When They Work For The Wrong Type of Organization

I had a discussion with a colleague recently when he made a statement regarding salesperson types, specifically hunters versus farmers. His perception was that you are either one or the other and that hunters are a much rarer breed.

The reality is that certain people may be predisposed to be more effective in a hunter role but that is supported by their core skill set and the learned behaviours they have developed over time. That does not mean that skills cannot be acquired or effectively building repeatable processes and doing the right things will not allow others to be successful within a hunter role.

  1. Hunters are not born but develop based on personal development choices and experience
  2. Being a hunter is a commitment to a life style choice and its inherent risk and reward
  3. Hunters realize what works and build out repeatable processes to ensure greater success
  4. Join organizations that value the hunter philosophy in practice and not only in the job description

I have personally seen hunters who where made farmers or a hybrid hunter-farmer by joining an organization where the methodology and sales execution practices actually hindered the hunter from flourishing. This happens more often in small organizations that are cash sensitive as well in larger organizations with aggressive growth initiatives that may not have the right individuals in the appropriate roles. When organizations set goals they have to be aggressive but attainable. Targets need to based on data and not desired results or optimistic/hopeful outcomes. Hope is not a strategy! This results in weird behaviour derived from a scarcity perception. Hoarding or holding on to accounts longer than they should, risk avoidance by excepting smaller orders, diminished new business development activity and busy work increases rather than doing the right things. This starts the breakdown of the hunter who, based on situational and environmental conditions starts becoming more of a farmer. This provides a sense of security as they can generate revenue from upsells/cross sells which have a lesser degree of risk than finding new business. This is more prevalent in tough economic conditions. As some of these activities provide temporary relief, the process entrenches into the individuals way of working. The path of least resistance. Like domesticated animals they slowly lose their edge and over time could be unable to rejoin the wild. Claws and fangs don't make you a good hunter but rather knowing how to use them within the context of your prey does. Somethings to look for when reviewing new opportunities:

  1. Review the sales process, personal development, and compensation program before going a firm to help uncover some of these indicators before joining an organization
  2. Understand the targets and how it was determined
  3. Ask what the results of peers were last year and the data that indicate the current targets are attainable
  4. The percentage of the sales team that met their objectives

Thoughts to ponder!

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