What is the best type of sales rep? As with every loaded question, the answer is, it depends!
If we break sales roles down into two major categories, they are called Hunters and Farmers. As the nicknames suggest, Hunters are going out and trying to find new opportunities. Farmers are trying to increase revenue from existing customers.
Most new business owners are going to be hunters, or at the very least need a hunter in their organization. These sales reps will be making calls, attending networking events, or tapping into their existing network to find new customers interested in your product and service. Typically, these reps are compensated heavily on finding new opportunities, and therefore, after the initial sale is made they start hunting again.
The challenge with having only hunters is you’re not capturing the full lifetime value of each customer. Since the majority of their compensation is based on bringing the customer in, they have little incentive to keep that customer happy.
This is where Farmers come in. We have all heard that it is more profitable to keep an existing customer, than to find a new one. However, if your sales rep is only compensated for bringing in new opportunities, the existing customers may start to feel neglected. Farmers excel at building deeper relationships and customer satisfaction. Their job is to stay in touch with the customer and help uncover more revenue opportunities, or at the very least, maintain the revenue.
For many businesses, Customer Service is probably your Farmers. They may not be actively upselling or cross selling, though they could be. However, if a customer has an issue with one of your products, they won’t buy more if their customer support experience is awful.
The dynamic between Hunters and Farmers is especially true in Service businesses and B2B sales. Think financial advisors, marketing companies, and businesses that try to land commercial accounts – think auto body shops that wants all of a Dealerships referrals, any wholesale or distributor company, office supply shops or product company.
The goal is to Land, then Expand. Hunters land the client, Farmers expand the client.
Lastly, ensure that you’re valuing both properly. Most companies give more incentive to land a new customer, but that’s not necessarily correct. There is more money to be made over the lifetime of the account, than just on the first sale.