In this series, I identify a group of sales candidates who, when hired, fail to meet expectations. But they all have one thing in common: they interview well.
You struggle to hire good salespeople but experience frustration when they fail to meet their sales goals. Here is another example of a type of sales candidate you’ll want to avoid for a Hunter-oriented sales role…
The Friendly Farmer
This salesperson is the nicest, friendliest, people-person you’ve ever met. They cultivate (farm) existing relationships and nurture existing customers very well. They have low attrition rates and their customers love them. However, they make terrible Hunters.
What you see
Their personality style is warm and friendly. They have a receptive nature about them and are naturally adept at conversation. You like them instantly.
What you assume
Because they interview well and you genuinely like them, you assume everyone else will too. You believe that this person will grow your customer base largely on their personality. They should have no problem introducing themselves to others and initiating relationships with people they don’t know. They should be able to build a large pipeline of qualified buyers and land plenty of sales.
What you don’t see
Although customers love them, prospects don’t. Friendly Farmers do best with warm calls and existing relationships. They require “low conflict” interactions, no rejection, no objections and minimal negotiations. Also, they prefer managing existing customers – not hunting for new ones. They prefer routine tasks – not variable schedules where they must deal with ambiguity. They prefer a “milkman route” where they see the same customers on a regular basis to develop strong relationships.
What you actually get
The effects of a Friendly Farmer in a Hunter role are: cold call avoidance, inadequate pipelines, and low sales. They prefer to generate new business from referrals and social networking.
Here are three (3) common mistakes managers make with Friendly Farmers:
1. Adding prospecting duties. Adding prospecting duties to a Friendly Farmer who is in an account manager role. This can be devastating to an Account Manager. They didn’t sign up for a lead generation role and they’re not wired for it. Adding this responsibility is a set-up for failure.
2. Converting technicians into salespeople. Moving a successful technician into sales because “customers love him”. Again, just because customers love your employee, does not mean prospects will. Your wonderful technician is not used to facing rejection on a regular basis. Someone else acquired the account. Your technician only has to serve the account.
3. Not communicating expectations. Hiring a Friendly Farmer with the “possibility” of eventually having them prospect for new business. If you fail to communicate your expectations that they will eventually be required to prospect, they’ll be shocked when you do. If you do tell them up front, they might agree to prospect, but only to get the job.
Bottom line: You really need an in-depth sales assessment to identify the capacities of your candidates. It is imperative that you objectively uncover their level of fit with your Hunter sales role. Otherwise, you will wind up with an unmotivated and underperforming sales rep.