Some people will argue that sales people are a unique type that are just born to be sales people while others will say that salespeople can be made through training and development. So, what’s the answer? Who is right? Well, the answer is that someone can be trained to be a sales person but their hardwiring will determine what kind of sales person they will be, their ability to bring in new business and their response to common sales situations.
Almost every executive I’ve spoken with has said something about how they’ve hired the next great sales development person. The interview was great, they said all the right things and they have a track record of generating numbers – finally you’ve found the sales person who is the answer to your business dreams! Now that this new sales person has started, the months begin to tick by with no new business coming in. The sales person seems able to come up with a lot of excuses but barely (if any) new business is coming in. The results promised in the interview aren’t materializing and the months continue to pass by without any action. Does this situation sound familiar to you?
The wiring of a sales person
The core of this issue is that anyone can be taught sales skills, but the hardwiring of a person is also at play. There are two kinds of salespeople, and these terms are probably familiar to you, there are Sales Hunters and Sales Farmers. The natural wiring of a person is what determines which one of those two categories a person falls into. Neither one is right or wrong, good or bad; it is based all upon what kind of person you’re looking for as to whether or not the kind of sales person you have is the one that you need.
Sales Hunters shine at developing new business. They enjoy the thrill of closing a new customer and obtaining the business. When I say new business, I truly mean new, they are assertive enough to go and find new business and not just bring in repeat orders from existing customers. Sales Farmers operate in an opposite manner. A Sales Farmer may be able to answer interview questions about how they can bring in new business but that isn’t the area where they shine or typically perform best. Sales Farmers are most skilled at working with established customers and developing additional business with established contacts.
So, what do you need? The conundrum is that while it is very easy for Sales Hunters to farm, they may not enjoy the task or feel fulfilled. Moreover, it is very difficult for Sales Farmers to hunt. The answer to why this is true is within their innate wiring.
You can teach skills, but you can’t teach wiring. Wiring is factual, it doesn’t change and people cannot be re-wired to fit into a role. If you have hired a Sales Farmer to do a Sales Hunter’s role you probably are encountering the familiar situation I described above where the promises of new business aren’t becoming a reality.
Wiring tells us a lot about what energizes a person and how they respond in sales situations. When a Sales Hunter is told no by a prospect they think “Well, that may be the answer today, what about next week, next month, next quarter or even next year?” While nobody enjoys hearing no, Hunters think it is only a temporary barrier to the eventual sale and the challenge energizes them. Sales Farmers respond in the opposite manner. When a Sales Farmer hears no, it means no and they accept that answer as final. Farmers aren’t thinking about when they can take the next chance at closing the business. They find these roadblocks exhausting and begin to feel depleted. Where a Farmer succeeds and feels most energized is when they walk into an area where they are already known and earn additional business without having to face the constant and dreaded “no”.
If you do not know the wiring of a sales candidate and your goal is to bring in new business, you are basically rolling the dice hoping to get a true Sales Hunter. But as is oftentimes said in the hiring or buying process – let the buyer beware.