Each month in this column I ask a different question to you, the ExitEvent Entrepreneur. Thought provoking questions that are meant to get you to sit back and think. Each month I offer insight into the question, along with common mistakes made by (us) entrepreneurs, and a key take-away for you to think more about. My goal – to increase your self-awareness as an entrepreneur and a leader.
Insight: Every entrepreneur understands clearly that without sales they have no business. Cash is king—we know that—but what is the driver for cash? Sales.
It seems like such a simple concept. Create a company, check. Produce a great product or service, check. Start selling, check. Then all we have to do is to hire a great salesperson or a staff of them to sell a lot more…well maybe not such an easy check mark.
Common Mistake made: When we are interviewing for a salesperson, typically we are looking for that outgoing personality that can get along well with people. We want somebody who can identify new prospects, take them through the sales process and close the deal. Then we want them to do that again and again. So why is it so hard to find great salespeople? That depends on the type of salesperson you really need in your organization: a hunter or a farmer?
The common mistake we make is to hire a farmer instead of a hunter for a sales hunter job.
Key Take-away: You don’t need to be an actual farmer or hunter to read this column. Trust me, I have no skills in either profession. But I can write, and I did sell plenty in my career! Let’s start with the definition of hunters and farmers as it applies to sales. With a bit of googling, I found the answer on fundoodata.com.
In sales, “HUNTERS” are people who “HUNT” for the new opportunity and they are often consultative sales people who innately find and assess an opportunity within a prospect, and find a solution that meets the specific need. Whereas “FARMERS” build and cultivate relationships and opportunities, typically within existing accounts.
A bit more searching on the subject on salesloft.com leads me to a few more words that describe each type:
Hunter: Focus on quantity of sales, independent (key skill), high initiative, doer
Farmer: Focus on long-term customer relationships, collaborative (key skill), creates lasting impact
So sales hunters close deals, then go hunting for more prospects so they can close more deals. They love to hunt for sales. Sales farmers love to take care of their clients (their land). Farmers don’t necessarily love to hunt and hunters don’t necessarily love to farm. Hunters and farmers are different personalities indeed, which is why it is so critical to know who you want on your salesforce, a hunter, a farmer or a combination of both.
When you are deciding to hire a salesperson, it is critical for you to design a great job description that includes the salesperson’s success metrics. What will he or she be accountable for? What metrics will be assigned for all of the areas of accountability? What skill sets will this person need to be successful?
Farmers will underperform when you expect them to be hunters and vice versa. Set them up for success by defining clearly what you need from your salespeople, train them, then let them hunt and farm to the best of their abilities.