Friday, 3 August 2012

Hunters and Farmers

Should sales professionals be hunters or farmers?  It’s a common analogy in the sales training arena.  Hunters stalk and shoot prey, so the hunter-salespeople prospect and close new buyers.  Farmers tend their land, so the farmer-salespeople tend their existing clients.

Asking “which one are you” is a dumb question.  In today’s world, you absolutely cannot survive on one or the other.  Here’s why.  A pure hunter with no regard for the long-term viability of a client may make the first sale, but if there’s no continued support and no client satisfaction, then Twitter, Facebook, Angies List or Yelp will catch-up with them. 

A pure farmer will lose business by attrition.  People are more mobile than ever, so they may move away from your market area.  There are so many more choices now with increased competition from both bricks-and-mortar businesses and virtual ones.  Hunters can come along and lure a client away from a farmer.

The quick answer is that you need to be both.  Don’t rely on referral business as your only answer to “hunting” or generating new clients.  You need to go on the offensive and find great clients wherever they gather.  When I worked at Diamori, a huge client of mine mentioned that his industry was having a golf tournament.  While most of their sponsors were related to the road-building industry, guess who invited himself to host a hole-in-one contest?  I figured, if this guy could drop $70,000 on jewellery and he’s not even the senior partner in his firm (which was not the largest firm in his industry,) I want to know more of these people.

My wife Jana’s uncle Ian is literally a farmer.  He owns a bunch of land near Regina.  Over the past few years he’s not only milked his cows, he’s bought more land to grow feed, and he’s increased his milking quota by buying-out other dairy farms.  This is the kind of sales-farmer I’d like to be.  One who continually creates revenue from their existing client base, but is always looking to add more acreage.

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