We are often asked, "Isn't the main criteria for a successful salesperson their personality?" This comes from the general feeling that to be good at sales, you either have "it" or you don't. The truth is, successful sales is not ALL about personality (experience, skills, subject matter knowledge, and process also play important roles) but it is a contributing factor.
And, when looking at personality there is more than just the "it" factor to consider. The better determination, as to whether you have the right person in a sales role, is matching the right PERSONALITY with the right ROLE.
And the analysis of this equation starts with answering the question for each sales person: Are you a Hunter or a Farmer?
- The Hunter is the person who gets their sales energy off of the “hunt” for the new opportunity. They are often consultative sales people who innately find and assess an opportunity (even when there doesn’t appear to be one) within a prospect, and find a solution within your offering that meets the specific need. They are networkers. They are independent. They generate buzz and excitement. And, they are not always good at follow-through and focus.
Typical sales roles: Account Executive, Field Sales Rep, Business Development Rep/Mgr
- The Farmer is the sales person who builds and cultivates relationships and opportunities, typically within existing accounts. Farmers are the sales people who turn a customer from good to great by the nature of their relationship and the loyalty they gain from their efforts. They nurture. They collaborate. They are team players. And, they are not always good at prospecting.
Typical sales roles: Account Manager/Rep, Customer Service Rep, Inside Sales Rep
When reviewing these two types of sales people, do not get lulled into thinking..."I need a team of all HUNTERS." Actually, for a company to truly succeed in sales, they need both. The reason for this is if you have a sales team full of hunters, you may acquire new customers fairly quickly, but experience high attrition in your existing business. And, if you have a team full of farmers, you may have a loyal customer base, but slower growth as new business is harder to come by. Also, if you are a smaller company, you may need one person to wear both hats (hunting AND farming), while these combinations--the Hunting Farmer or the Farming Hunter--exist, they are harder to find.
Based on the priority of your specific company business development goals (customer acquisition or customer loyalty), you will want to make sure you have the right balance of BOTH Hunters and Farmers.