hiring hunter

Seems like these days, if you want to land a sales job, especially in IT, you have to convince the interviewer and/or recruiter that you have the hunter mentality. I presume this to mean that you will wake up every day, searching for every possible opportunity (LinkedIn, Existing Contacts, Inside Sales) to find leads, move them through the sales cycle, and turn them quickly into revenue. This assumes of course that you, the hunter, have all the necessary sales tools (preferably from the marketing dept.) to maximize your time and be able to “hit the ground running” and quickly producing results.

hh3Hunters are often contrasted with farmers. These are sales people who go into established accounts, and look to upsell and/or cross sell new or additional solutions (which still equals revenue, right?), but don’t add new “logos” (yet another recent term that’s entered the sales hiring lexicon). So if you are a farmer, perception is you are not as strong as a hunter because you aren’t bringing in new clients. I get this. Companies need to add new clients to continue their growth. However during my 25+ year long sales and sales management career, I’ve often uncovered more opportunity in existing clients, and found valuable references to get my foot in the door someplace else. In my opinion farmers get a bad rap.

Hunter? Farmer? No. I’m a Fisherman

I’ve been asked by recruiters on more than one occasion if I consider myself a hunter or a farmer. My answer is typically “No, I am a fisherman”. This answer usually confounds most interviewers – maybe they’ve never been fishing?

Now for my fishing analogy to make sense requires you, my reader, to visualize how sport hunting normally happens if you’ve never tried. Let’s use deer hunting as an example. I’ve only been once in my life, but some good friends of  mine go deer hunting every season, and we’ve discussed it many times, so between my one time, and their hh2experiences, I think I can describe the process.

Most times deer hunting goes something like this: Its fall season, and thus chilly outside. You get up really early, dress warm, eat a quick breakfast, fill a thermos with coffee, grab a substantial lunch, deer rifle and ammo, then ride or walk to a deer stand (think tree house) and wait…and wait….and wait… for a deer to come within distance of a shot. Most times you go home with an empty thermos, a full belly and the same ammo you brought.

hh1Fishermen (and women), in contrast, adapt. If the fish aren’t biting on lures, they switch to live bait. No hits in this area? We fire up the boat motor and move to another. There’s even a community available on CB radio that let’s other fishermen know where the fish are biting. Maybe you’ve gone out flounder fishing, but the cocktail bluefishare biting. Switch to bobbers, follow the seagulls (who chase the bluefish chum) and BANG there is bound to be a fish on the line.

Lest anyone think I have an axe to grind with hunter-type sales people, quite the contrary, you have my highest respect. But if you’re a sales recruiter, headhunter, employer, or anyone involved in getting sales people hired, I’d just ask you to ponder, beyond the aggressive tone of the word hunter, how a mix of sales personality types would really have a positive impact to help sell more:

  • A hunter, who is likely going to spend a lot of time lining up possibilities, and then working hard to find the right person in an organization to make time to listen to your incredible presentation, determine if they need to replace an existing solution with yours, and likely spend the next 9-12 months building a pipeline of opportunity of various degrees of forecastable results.
  • A farmer, who finds new opportunities within existing (and hopefully happy) existing clients, where your company, or in some cases your personal, brand is already a known value and thus requires a lot less time to move through both the buyers organization, and the sales cycle.
  • A fisherman/woman, who is smart enough to know where to look for opportunities, and when to move on, changes the bait (offer/value prop) to fit the immediate needs of the client, and leverages like-minded individuals for cooperation (let’s call them business partners) so they can share in the benefits.

And while each type has a place in the giant world of salespeople, I’m just going to continue relying on my rods, reel and tackle.

Hey hunters, farmers and fishermen/women, what do you think?

Have another great summer weekend!

Ed Colandra