Are good sales people born or made?

Training budgets may have been cut back to the bone to preserve cash flow in these challenging economic times, so we cross our fingers and hope that good sales people are born and all we need to do is find them and recruit them!

One major obstacle is that often good sales people tend to stay loyal to their employer and rarely come on to the open market. If they do move, they tend to via the unadvertised market through referral and word of mouth. So it seems logical to 'make' or develop good sales people ourselves.

There seems to be is a lot of confusion regarding the terms 'hunters and farmers'. Unfortunately it means different thing to different people. So what is a 'hunter' sales person? A broad definition is a sales person that thrives on generating new business in new clients. The problem is that on the whole 'hunters' lack motivation to nurture ongoing relationships and manage the associated administration of maintaining an existing client relationship. 'Hunters' can neglect clients as they search for the next big deal and the 'buzz' of cracking yet another new account.

This can of course be remedied by transferring the client over to a 'farmer' who excels in maintaining and developing relationships with existing clients. Each sales style is crucial in any organisations however, it can be cost prohibitive to have both styles covered by different people and a balance needs to be found.

Just recruiting 'hunters' can be a real problem as it can leave your existing clients neglected and frustrated and prone to seeking out alternative partners, your competition!

It is well know that it costs considerably more to attract and win new clients than maintain and care for existing clients. Whilst it is vital to have a fresh crop of clients developing at any one time it is important to ensure that the balance is right. Conversely just recruiting farmers can leave you exposed and reliant on too few clients and a dwindling pipeline of opportunity.

Ensuring that your sales team is united in its goal and have a shared and clear vision of what they are required to achieve is vital. Unfortunately, this is rarely communicated succinctly by management teams and whilst sales teams can appear productive and busy they may not truly be in alignment with the company's strategic and tactical objectives.

What messages are you giving to your team? Are your remuneration and incentive schemes driving the desired behaviour and motivation? How do you reward success and failure?

Many factors will affect sales teams' performance. The following questions and suggestions may provide an insight in how to improve your sales team's success.

How can I increase sales performance?

Work on developing confidence and reframing negative experiences to promote a positive attitude and the opportunity to improve and develop.

Weed out limiting beliefs that may be holding back personal or team performance. This can open up hidden strengths and abilities that will enable the sales person or team to break through the 'glass ceiling' that they have unconsciously set themselves.

How can I ensure that my hunters and farmer's are as productive as possible?

Make sure you have the right sales person in the right role or work on developing motivation by understanding what their key drivers are and introduce these into the less stimulating and motivating tasks.

How can I build confidence and consistency in my team?

Understanding how we each perceive the world and what our beliefs are can increase our awareness and consequently our choices and our resulting behaviour.

Once we know what skills we have and what additional ones we need we can develop our resource-fullness. We have all the resources we need to succeed!

How can we engage with our clients more effectively?

Building rapport is vital, but how many of your sales team has been taught how to do this effectively and why it is so important? Teach them!

Ensure that your sales teams, having built rapport, fully understand the client's challenges before they prescribe a solution or product.

In order to engage with decision makers your team needs to have the confidence that they can communicate at all levels. This needs focus to ensure your pipe line is not full of poorly qualified opportunities that never come to fruition.

How can we close more business?

Take sales team development seriously. Invest in increasing awareness and developing options and choices which builds confidence which in turn will drive motivation to achieve targets and personal goals.

Build rapport with your clients. Make it a key sales skill. When sales teams truly 'click' with clients they can achieve great things. This should be a premeditated and subtle focus of every sales team and is easy to learn and incredible powerful!


I built up and sold my successful business and have genuine hands-on experience of running a business and the challenges that entails. I have been responsible for creating and implementing winning business strategies and the development of high performance sales cultures. My direct and holistic approach to business enables me to get to the core of the issue and to...

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