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Sales Assessment: Do you hunt? Or farm?

October 9, 2012

Untitled 1Sales Scenario 1 – The phone rings in the evening when you are trying to eat and relax before another busy day. You answer: “Do you need new windows in your home?” Click. Hang up. Hrrrmph.

Sales Scenario 2 – Come visit our wonderful resort in Florida for free. You just have to sit through a presentation on our time shares. You go to the resort and the presentation conversation goes something like this:

Sales rep: “This is a great opportunity!”

You: “No, thank you.” (back away two steps)Sales rep: “Aren’t you enjoying this wonderful resort?” (moving two steps forward)

You: “Yes, but this just isn’t for us.” (back away two more steps)

Sales rep: “You could enjoy it every year….”

You don’t hear the rest as you run away as fast as you can.You may have been on the receiving end of one or both of these sales, but have you ever thought about the salesperson on the other end? What a job. Most of the people these salespeople talk to don’t want anything to do with them. Only a small percentage of discussions lead to a sale, but the salesperson must smile and try again. How do you find someone who is willing to do this? What I’m talking about is finding someone with the right sales style for the sales role.Can you handle a lot of rejection? Are you willing to do significant amounts of cold calling?

The hunter sales style

People who can do this with ease are typically called Hunters. They are comfortable with rejection and are willing to talk to a lot of people without desiring to build long-term relationships.Are you good at building relationships? Can you focus on the needs and wants of your customers?

The farmer sales style

Just like real farmers, farmer salespeople like to nurture and grow existing accounts. They develop long-term relationships with their key contacts and continue to find more sales opportunities within the same company.Companies often need both kinds of salespeople in their organization. And, many times, salespeople need to do a little bit of both in their jobs to be successful. So, how do you find the right sales style for your sales role(s)? How do you know if your sales candidates have the style you need?

Step 1: Examine Target Position

Find out exactly how much of the job is hunting and how much of it is farming. Look to see what style has worked successfully with other salespeople in that role. Typically companies that have complicated or expensive solutions (as opposed to products) tend to employ farmers. These types of organizations have longer sales cycles that benefit from long-term relationships. Product-oriented businesses that have off-the-shelf options may need more hunters. These are just generalities and may not apply to all organizations.

Step 2: Evaluate Candidate

Use a sales assessment tool to identify candidates’ sales potential and sales style. Find out what kind of approach your candidates are likely to take. Most salespeople have a preference for one style or another. Compare this to your target position and determine if there is a match. Remember that sales style is just one factor to consider when making a hiring decision. Don’t forget to evaluate your candidates on sales competencies to see if they have the underlying characteristics to be successful in sales, regardless of their style. Your ideal candidate has acceptable levels of important sales competencies and has the right style match for your job and organization.

Happy Hunting!

8 Factors to Look at When Hiring Salespeople

Amie Lawrence, Ph.D. Amie Lawrence, Ph.D. is the Director of Global Innovation at PSI and an expert in the design, development, and validation of psychological assessment tools. She runs an innovation lab that is responsible for establishing PSI’s assessment technology roadmap and strategy. An integral member of PSI since 2000, Amie has led the development of numerous global assessments, including personality, situational judgment, cognitive, and interactive work simulations.