We’ve forever been steeped in a “hunter / farmer” mindset when it comes to building our sales teams. Even the Sales Development Representative/Account Executive/Account Manager model (with Pre-Sales Engineering, Implementation and/or Customer Care mixed in) follows this mindset with additional bodies taking certain parts of the “hunter” or “farmer” role.
Similar to how my friends, Marcus Cauchi and David Davies refer to “building a special ops team instead of a land army,” in Making Channel Sales Work, building out our sales team is more about finding individuals with specific, specialized skills to maximize that stage of our funnel.
For example, a sales team might be built around:
- Lead Qualification Experts – individuals who excel at separating suspects from prospects whether inbound or outbound and who are adept at high level qualification and emotional engagement of prospects. Even though they would have only a small part to play in the overall sales process these individuals would be able to clearly, definitively articulate next steps to their prospects and set up their colleagues downstream for success by identifying potential roadblocks or showstoppers with a prospect in advance.
- Qualify / Closers – these individuals would be highly process oriented with a determination to keep opportunities moving through their funnel or out by disqualifying or closing while always ending and beginning an interaction with a prospect with a clear next step in both calendars. They would also be adept at quickly creating rapport with multiple parties on the buyer side and successfully bringing in members of their team to support a sale if needed.
- Expanders – “farming” sounds passive, so we tend to get passive results from our Farmers. “Expansion” on the other hand is a proactive activity and individuals in this group would have great skill in going three wide and three deep in their client accounts, deeply understanding their clients needs in the present and have the questioning skills to help their client discover what their needs are going to be in the future. As adding new logos becomes increasingly difficult having a highly specialized team of Expanders would be key for us to keep our funnels consistently full.
It could be said that those roles follow the SDR/AE/AM format; however, the shift in mindset is away from generic role filling to highly specific skill acquisition.
Like how hiring a salesperson/sales manager is a terrible idea, hiring a “hunter” to both fill the top of the funnel and qualify/close means we’re likely hiring someone with one specific set of skills and ambitions (e.g. prospecting) and requiring them to apply those skills to something they aren’t as good at or enthusiastic about (e.g. working an opportunity through our process). Better to hire a specialist and coach/train them to be the best specialist they can be.
For executives in smaller organizations, especially if that executive is the Founder/only salesperson hiring specialists might sound like an idea only for large companies or that they “have to hire a generalist” because of resource available. It’s more likely that they just don’t want to sell, but that’s a topic for another article.
Whether we’re running a large sales team, or we are the entire sales team start down this path by analyzing your team or ourself against the skill sets described above to identify gaps then build an ideal candidate profile against those gaps. If we are the entire sales team, we’ll have a ton more time in our calendar and renewed passion for our business by hiring a specialist because we won’t be burning mental and emotional energy on an activity that we don’t like to do.
Shifting to a skillset-based approach to building a sales team may sound scary, which as one of my coaches says, “that means it’s a growth moment.” By building a team of specialists you’ll create great velocity in your funnel with better qualified opportunities, keep those clients longer and free up more of your time to do strategic work on your business.
Until next time… go lead.