Building the right sales team can be tough. You need salespeople who can hook new clients and recognize potential leads, but you also need sales representatives that know how to transform a new client into a repeat buyer.
There are two kinds of successful salespeople: Hunters and Farmers.
Both are needed to grow and maintain sales. If you’re only hiring one of these, then you need to reorganize your sales team.
First, we need to separate the hunters from the farmers and learn what differentiates the two.
Hunters are the life of the party. They are natural networkers. A hunter is the rock star on your team. She has over 500 friends on Facebook, and she is always on to the “next” thing.
A hunter will appear to have endless energy. She will produce with machine-like speed, and she does not like to have down time. (Even in her down time, she is networking or planning her next move.)
Hunters have high levels of Need for Achievement, Competitiveness and Optimism. They live to be the best at what they do, and to be recognized. They are also ambitious, by constantly setting high goals for themselves. Hunters take initiative and are always on the lookout for new business opportunities, new ways to succeed and new ways of reaching potential clients.
Because of their charismatic nature, and their confidence, hunters are great at generating new leads and can easily close deals with new clients. They are the drivers behind successful sales growth.
Unfortunately, composing your sales team entirely of hunters can have its drawbacks. Hunters may be the life of the party – when they remember to show up. Hunters can be disorganized and more likely to succumb to distraction or cut corners in order to make a sale. Hunters may miss small details that could lead to future revenue.
Because of their tendency to live in the “now”, hunters focus on quantity of sales versus quality. This means a hunter is often less likely to follow up with clients and more likely to lose opportunities to convert them into repeat customers.
Hunters may be the life of the party, but a farmer will be the one hosting the event. Farmers know who to invite, what food to serve and where the fire exits are.
Farmers are diligent, organized and reliable. They may not have 500 friends online, but their short list of contacts is still valuable, because these are people in whom they have invested time and effort. Farmers focus on the quality of relationships versus quantity.
Always the reliable friend, a farmer will remember your birthday and be the one to order the cake. She is the type of sales representative that knows all her clients by name and by coffee order. She sometimes plays therapist with clients, listening intently to their problems and offering sound advice. This allows her to understand the client’s business on a deeper level, enabling her to offer the right solution at the right time.
Most importantly, she will always follow through. Farmers are great at cultivating repeat customers because of their commitment to detail and building strong relationships. Clients come to rely on them because they know farmers will always deliver. A farmer will take the time to learn about the client, to know when to call and follow up on a sale.
But farmers are only comfortable on their own plot of land. They do not like to venture into new territory. A farmer will not do well making cold calls to prospective clients. Rather, she would prefer to establish a committed relationship with a client who has already been sold by the hunter. Populating your sales team with only farmers can cause your sales to plateau.
Building a Balanced Sales Team
What ratio of Hunters to Farmers is best on your team?
You might be able to categorize your current team into farmers and hunters, but chances are you may overlook the strengths of some if you are not able to check in on each team member regularly. Testing your current sales team is important to fully understand how to best use each individual to maximize their performance.
How can you be sure that your next hire is the farmer or hunter you need to rebalance your team?
Sales assessment tests allow you to scratch beneath the surface of a candidate’s personality. With the right pre-employment screening tools, you can target on interviewing only the candidates that will fill the gap on your team.
Are you experiencing slow growth, but steady sales? You probably have a team of farmers. Look for candidates that score high in Drive to find your next superstar hunter.
If your business is lacking in repeat customers, you might have gone overboard hiring hunters. Shorten your interview list by selecting candidates that display high levels of organization and Optimism. Invite candidates that test well for maintaining and building long-term relationships into your interviews.
Keep in mind, sometimes a new hire is not the best way to rebalance your sales team. Before going into the costly process of hiring a new employee, be sure that you are placing your existing salespeople in the right position. Sometimes reshuffling roles might be the answer to your low sales.
Again, a sales assessment can help. Testing your existing employees will allow you to see definitively who on your team is a hunter and who is a farmer. This will enable you to match employees to their best suited positions. Perhaps Jane’s low numbers are because she is in a cold calling position, when she is better suited for farming established clients.
The right sales aptitude test will allow you to identify the right role for your sales representatives, as well as how to organize your team for maximum efficiency and impact.