Your company is in the midst of a major sales culture shift. You're overhauling your entire approach to how you sell your products and services and putting the focus on the customers and their experience, rather than on your company. You've changed your strategy, your tactics, you've changed your policies, and you've even changed your training program. Everything is going well. Just one question remains. Should you replace your entire sales team?
The Role of Hunter vs. Farmer In A Sales Culture Shift
When it comes to sales, for the sake of this post on sales culture shift, you can think of 2 basic sales functions: hunters and farmers (in reality there are many others, as we know). “Hunters” are salespeople who are charged with finding and developing brand new accounts.
They may or may not be given business leads; however, at the end of the day, they’re responsible for opening new customers through whatever method works best in their industry and in their marketplace.
"Farmers," on the other hand, are focused on building and nurturing customer relationships. They’re essentially account managers and they work with the customer to help them get what they're looking for out of the product or service, retain that customer and to sell them more. They answer questions, provide helpful advice, and do what they can to be a trusted resource to the customer.
There's nothing inherently good or bad about either of these sales approaches. Both have their merits, and both can be very effective methods of increasing a company's revenue, especially when used in some sort of combination.
However, these two types of sales reps are based on more than just basic training and tactics. When staffed correctly, they represent two very different personality types.
And if you're enacting a sales culture shift, you need to take a very close – and objective – look at the personalities you have in your different sales functions, and whether or not they’re a fit for what you need.
The real question here is whether you have the right people in the right places doing the right things to get the right results.
So, should you replace your entire sales team to reflect your new sales culture and the new structure of your sales organization? That's a bit extreme.
For one thing, it takes time for new personnel to acclimate to their surroundings. Even in the midst of a sales culture shift, you need people on your team who know your company and the products you're selling, and can be there to help the new people settle in.
It is a good idea to take on some new blood, though.
Rather than replace your entire team at once, slowly begin shifting towards reps who are more compatible with your new sales culture.
How do you find these people? One method is behavioral interviewing.
Behavioral interviewing focuses on an applicant's actions and reactions in real world conditions, rather than only their skills and experience on paper. Ask them to demonstrate their sales skills off the cuff. Ask questions about how they'd respond to certain situations, or what their sales experience has been like up to this point.
These answers can help gauge whether or not an applicant is in line with your new sales culture.
Assessments are powerful instruments that allow you to understand what makes a person “tick;” an assessment can tell you whether the person is a hunter or a farmer, whether they’re in a position to succeed inside of your culture and whether they have the selling skills you need them to have.
So, should you replace your entire sales team when enacting a sales culture shift? No.
Your existing reps are still valuable to your organization, and training does still help the sales process. Just remember that training isn't everything.
If you can gradually build a team with both the experience and the behavioral inclinations that fit your new culture, then you're on your way to a sales culture shift that will yield years of great success.
Published on March 31, 2015