Top Salespeople Are BOTH Hunters AND Farmers

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The Sales Warrior Within | Season 2 Episode 29 – Top Salespeople Are BOTH Hunters AND Farmers

Andy Olen is a Sales & Leadership Trainer and High-Performance Coach. Andy works with talented salespeople, business teams, and leaders who seek empowerment, improvement, and insight. Andy’s clients strive to be the best in class.

“Good Selling, Good Leading, Good Living.” – Andy Olen

Top Salespeople Are BOTH Hunters AND Farmers

  • Andy Olen shares his thoughts on the importance that salespeople are both hunters AND farmers
  • Hunters seek out new competitive wins
  • Farmers look to build sales inside accounts they have already converted
  • Historically, the salesforce conversation is an “or” conversation, “Do we have hunters OR farmers?”
  • The conversation should be, “How do we create both great hunters AND farmers in our salesforce?”
  • Be an AND salesperson, A Hunter, AND a Farmer
  • Andy shares recommendations and insights on dividing your time to accomplish excellent outcomes as a hunter and farmer.

Link to Andy Olen’s website
Link to Andy’s Online Courses




Speaker: Andy Olen

| 00:02 | There’s a sales warrior within each of us. My name is Andy Olen, and I’m here to help you discover and empower the sales Warrior within. Sales warriors. This is Andy Olen in and welcome to the Sales Warrior Within podcast. Happy sales to you. Good selling to you. My hope for you is that you’re having a great sales year, an interesting time.
| 00:30 | There’s a lot of ups and downs. The economy is up and down, which is probably impacting some of you negatively, maybe others favorably. I’d have to think about which industries are maybe being positively impacted now. Maybe banking, usually with higher interest rates, banks end up doing well because the spread on their loans becomes a little bit more profitable for them.
| 00:50 | But for most people with supply chain issues, with shortages in labor and I was at the airport the other day and a lot of like the soft drink and water coolers in like the Hudson News vending area or Bodega, I don’t even know what the right term is. Like the 711 of the airport, the Hudson News area, they have the gum, the magazines, the books, random clothes, trinkets and all kinds of toiletries.
| 01:18 | They also have coolers that have Coke, Pepsi, water. A lot of those are empty. I’m like, how is the supply chain issue hit water? Maybe it’s the plastic bottles, because I hope it’s not the water that would be problematic for many of us. So I hope that selling into this turmoil has been okay for you. I hope you’re stepping back and learning from it. One of the things that makes a really good leader over time is that he or she has been through many different business cycles.
| 01:52 | They’ve seen a lot of downs. They’ve seen many ups. And when things are up, they’re almost getting ready for the inevitable down that’s coming. And when things are down, they’re exercising really strong leadership muscle to not only persevere through the tough moments, but to get ready for hopefully a boom on the other side. And I’ve been through a lot of cycles. Some of the cycles I’ve been through are pretty significant. So there have been some working in healthcare, natural disaster cycles that have impacted healthcare.
| 02:23 | So if you think about it, when a big hurricane comes through, like Katrina in New Orleans or super storm Sandy comes through on the East Coast, or any big hurricane event labs will go down. So when I worked at Siemens and was running North American lab diagnostics, a hospital might get flooded. They can’t perform lab diagnostic services. So where are those people going to be admitted into Ers? Who’s going to do the lab work, have the analyzers in the basement flooded?
| 02:53 | And how long will it take for those to get back on board? That’s a shock. That’s a trauma to the healthcare system, certainly in that area when big natural disasters come through. So I’ve gone through those situations. I’ve always been very proud of the healthcare industry and most industries for how well they respond when there’s a disaster that really strikes and has a human toll. But let’s talk about economic cycles that you go through. We’re right now in a high inflation, higher interest rate environment. Okay? So we’re going to learn how to deal with this.
| 03:23 | I’ve never in my adult life or sales life had to deal with this. Let’s figure it out. We’ll figure it out, no problem. And at some point interest rates will come back down when there’s a need for them to come back down. More importantly, inflation will come back down. We’re in a very hot labor market right now. So if you’re out there trying to hire really good talent or recruit talent, it’s hard to do right now. What have we just produced in the United States? 587,000 jobs plus or minus a few thousand in the last month. And I don’t know, that doesn’t sound like recession to me.
| 03:51 | But then there’s a lot of talk about recession and when there’s a recession then things slow down, spending slows down and maybe that big capital need that you have or capital your customer has to go to capital committee for funding for a big product purchase from you or big technology purchase. And that capital money is drying up all kinds of different things in this moment. I’ve gone through the 2008 financial crash cycle. Now I was working in healthcare so I was a little bit shielded from that but not totally shield from that.
| 04:21 | And those impacts, the housing disaster that was subprime mortgages as detailed in a great movie, The Big Short, one of my favorite books, also one of my favorite movies. Just love the way that that is written and built for the stage, excuse me for the screen. So I went through that cycle, went through the tech and sort of dot com bust of 2000.
| 04:47 | That’s where the AOL’s of the world and Microsoft and Cisco’s had a huge run up and then many crash. In fact AOL got bought and really just basically went away. Who else was that? BlackBerry was another one at that time as well. They endured a little bit longer but I don’t see a lot of blackberries on people’s belts anymore, which is probably not a bad thing. So you got to go through a couple of cycles and as a salesperson, the more cycles you go through two, takeaways one, you know how to deal with them.
| 05:18 | You know how to deal with boom and bust moments a little bit better than someone who’s newer in sales. So don’t fear economic or a cyclical downturn. Embrace it, learn from it. And two, that your customers who know that you’ll be with them when the moments are good and when the moments are bad. That’s a wonderful way to build loyalty. There are a lot of people I have a good customer and is in the financial services arena.
| 05:46 | And he said, you know, when the going gets tough for some clients, some banks will run away from those clients. Not our bank. We stay with them through the thick and the thin. And they really appreciate that loyalty. And that in turn also creates opportunities for the bank to grow their business. So enjoy as much as you can the ups and downs. When you have a really good moment and everything’s going well, you’re totally in your winning condition. It’s not going to stay like that forever. So you got to get ready for the downturn.
| 06:17 | And when you’re in a downturn, don’t walk away from what you’re doing, stay with it. There is an upturn that will come and what you will learn and hopefully building customer loyalty will be absolutely phenomenal. What I want to talk about today is another phenomenon that happens in sales and it’s a conversation that many maturing businesses have about their salesforce. And I wanted to make you aware of it and I want you to think about this in the context of what you’re doing today and also what your personality is as well as a salesperson.
| 06:49 | And the discussion that a maturing business often has about its salesforce. And a maturing business is one that has built market share, maybe has an install base of technology or products, has a lot of good customers out there who have bought and bought more and also has what’s called a good tam or a total available market, that there’s still more places to go and build market share or to win the business from a competitor.
| 07:18 | And the question that many sales executives will ask about their sales force is the following do we have a sales force of hunters or farmers? Hunters or farmers? And the implication is this that the hunter is someone who’s looking to go build new market share. They want to compete in an account that they do not have an incumbent or market share position, someone else doesn’t. They are the hunter who’s going to slay it and take it away.
| 07:47 | Whereas the farmer is more comfortable going to an account he or she already has market share in and going back and servicing that account, making sure that that account stays with his or her company and hopefully to be able to build up some greater market opportunity within that account. So that’s the hunting and farming profile. And the question has usually been asked as an either or. Are you a hunter or are you a farmer?
| 08:15 | And I want to change the paradigm today where a great salesperson, in my opinion, is they are both a hunter and a farmer because at times you do have to go out and hunt for new business opportunities and at other times farming can be very lucrative as well. So I want you to not think about it in an either or situation if you ever are a part of this discussion or if you’re thinking about it for yourself.
| 08:42 | But as an and conversation, hunting and farming together make a good salesperson. So here’s the example I would give that if you have an established territory as a salesperson or established region as a sales manager, and what I mean by that is that you do have market share and accounts that you’ve been successful in building your business within, say, 25% of your accounts, then yes, definitely you want to farm that business. Because here’s the deal.
| 09:10 | Places that like you and customers that like you and have been doing business with you for a while, yeah, they might want to do more business with you. So it’s a great place to go launch a new product. It’s a great place that if their business is growing, to do more with them. And I think that’s great. So that’s an element of farming where you planted the seeds. The seeds have grown into wonderful, beautiful rows of corn and the rain has come to allow for a wonderful harvest.
| 09:38 | Well, if you can harvest more corn this year than you did last year, good for you. So if you can get more business out of that established 25% of your territory, your region, good for you. That’s work. Well done. Now, I would say that the great sales people take care of that 25% of their business by doing great farming duties and deliver great farming expertise and sales mastery there.
| 10:03 | But there’s another 75% out there where it does require a hunting or hunter’s mentality to go make that happen, to turn accounts from your competitor to you. And it’s really important for a couple of different reasons. One, your quota, your sales goals. Almost every business and corporate goal is around growth. And that’s revenue growth. And what’s implied there is you can grow with the business or as the marketplace grows, you can just sort of farm off of that growth.
| 10:36 | But usually businesses account for, hey, we’re going to grow with the market, and then my sales team is going to outcompete everyone else. And so those hunters are going to take more market share. And so to achieve and to maintain 100% or more to quota. Quota, it’s fun to say that. I don’t usually say that way. 100% to quota, not quota. You have to go out there and you have to hunt for that new business. You have to go find it and take it from someone else.
| 11:07 | And that builds your market share and helps you accelerate past your quota and walk hopefully across that stage to win awards at the end of the sales year. So that requires a hunting mentality. Here’s why I don’t like it as an either or. In that same scenario that I gave you, 25% of your territory or region has been nicely built and you’re doing great with established business. 75% opportunity to take market share from a competitor.
| 11:37 | If it’s an or, it’s either hunting or farming. It Implies that you only spend your time in one Or The other area, and great sales people Spend Time In both. They allocate certain amount of hours or calories towards hunting activities. And they allocate certain time and hours and calories to farming activities. And I think that’s the key is to do both. I’m going to get the most and more out of my established farming area.
| 12:07 | And I’m going to go out and I’m going to pick up one new account this year. Two new accounts this year. I was talking to a sales leader at Philips Healthcare the other day, and he’s always thought, hey, all I need to do is have every TM or territory manager out there pick up one new account a year. And that’s the hunting goal, right? If We Go Out there and just get one per Territory manager, if There are 100, 200 territory managers on His Team across the country, across the US.
| 12:38 | Then that’s 200 new accounts. That’s A Huge year. That is a banner year for that organization. And it’s a banner year for most of those sales people as well. So it doesn’t take a lot to really move the needle. As A hunter, it’s just a lot of work. You got to build relationships. You got to work your sales process. You got to find a way to encourage them to say, you know, what the status quo of working with my competitor? I want to change that.
| 13:08 | And I want to work with Andy now. I want to change my business. You got to get a customer to think that way. That’s not easy. That’s why a lot of people hesitate to go and be true hunters and they miss opportunities as a result of it. And sometimes they have a bias towards just staying in a safe place and being a farmer only. And I want you to think about how can you allocate your time, allocate your mindset to be both a farmer and a hunter?
| 13:36 | Both are really helpful and specific, and they require specific activities and actions. But you need to do both in order to be at the top of the sales game. I certainly have a wonderful group of Core keystone clients or Foundational clients that I Like To Think about four or five that I do Set Goals around every year. And I’ve been doing business now, running my own business with them for three years. And I expect 2023.
| 14:06 | I’ll probably continue on and do business with them as well. I always want to add Some new customers. I don’t have the bandwidth as A small business to add 20 new customers. But If I Add Just One New one. That really diversifies. Protects. And Helps Me grow My Business. And that’s really A helpful mindset for me. Is that I Just say. Hey.
| 14:29 | I’m Going To Be A Great farmer and get the most Out Of The Engagements I Have With My foundational clients and I’m going to add one more this year and hopefully I go into next year with another foundational client and then another one after that and another one after that and maybe have ten or whatever my max capacity is. Or I bring on other people to help me out. That is both a hunting and farming perspective, and I think both are really important to be a great salesperson, great entrepreneur, great business leader as well.
| 15:02 | You don’t have to boil the ocean as a hunter. You don’t have to spend all your time there, though it can be a lot of fun, just as farming can be a lot of fun too. So it’s not about spending all your time in either one. It’s not an or discussion. It’s hunting and farming. Ultimately, activities that support and underpin both of those missions and mindsets will produce great sales results today, tomorrow, and for many years to come. So my call to action for you is to look at your activities.
| 15:32 | Ask yourself the question, am I both a hunter and a farmer? If so, great. If not, encourage yourself to think about what you have to do with your time, your energy, your focus, and your sales process and sales activities to ensure that you have that great balance. If your sales manager running a sales team, look at your team and have this discussion with them, hey, do you think you’re Andy, a hunter or a farmer? Or a hunter and a farmer?
| 15:59 | I think that’s a wonderful set of questions to look at and to probe with your team and then to have a discussion on why it’s important to think about it as an and I’m a hunter and I’m a farmer as well. And oh, by the way, I’m really damn good at it too. That’s my thought for the day, team. Have a great weekend there. This is the sales warrior within podcast. My name is Andy Olen and it’s always great being with you. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen today and as always, good selling, good leading and good living.