These different perspectives often inform recruitment and selection issues. Below we offer our perspective on how these stereotypes have evolved.
Specialist or Generalist?
If you have territory focused salespeople selling a range of products/services you have a generalist salesforce. This type of selling is becoming increasingly difficult to deliver effectively. Customers want to speak to people who know stuff they don’t, who understand their world and their pain points. They want to engage with sales people who have insight into the current and emerging change drivers, not just listen to someone who focuses only on benefits and price/delivery negotiations.
Whether the specialist focuses on product/service line, market vertical or key customers, the principle is the same. They bring a level of expertise to the interaction the generalist cannot
Hunter or Farmer?
This is an increasingly redundant stereotype. The only way hunters will still work is if:
a) it’s a one off sale where the customer requires no further support and there are no more downstream sales opportunities; or
b) there are lots of new customers to find who can replace the alienated ones left behind by the hunter.
Employing farmers implies customers ‘just’ need looking after. This ignores the huge opportunity of increasing wallet share through the dynamic process of account development.
It’s true that some salespeople don’t like to find new sales opportunities, whilst others prefer to only build business with existing customers. But in today’s more complex and demanding marketplace sales people who can network to find new customers plus who are business builders, will always outperform unilateral hunters/farmers.
Sales Animal Or Technician?
This one still has currency as an important decision. Can you take the non-sales experience of say a scientist and train them to sell? Or is it better to take the sales animal and intensively train them to be able to talk about a technical product? Firstly, look at the market place. Sometimes technical/professional qualifications are a critical credibility requirement. Next, look at the person concerned. Some scientists, nurses, teachers, accountants make suburb salespeople. Why? Because of their mind-set. We have found there are three critical mind-set components required.
- Self image. They need to be comfortable in their own skin, transitioning into being perceived as a salesperson.
- Inter-personal receptiveness. They have to enjoy other peoples’ company and be happy leading conversations.
- Finally drive, they have to be self starters. Effective sales people do what it takes rather just than what they’re told.