The old saw is that salespeople are either hunters (salespeople that go obtain new business) or farmers (salespeople that maintain client relationships). I know salespeople that I would classify as pure hunters, some I would classify as hunter-farmers, and some that are pure farmers.
What makes great hunters in sales is the fact that they, more than anyone else, observe the law of the farm.
The Law of the Farm
Jim Rohn was fond of reciting the law of the farm. So is Stephen Covey. That’s because observations about natural laws serve as great lessons. The farm is a great metaphor.
The natural law of the farm is this: You plant in spring, and you harvest in fall; no planting in spring, no harvesting in fall.
What could be truer about selling?
Hunters, even the purest of hunters, understand and observe the law of the farm. Hunters are always opening new opportunities and winning new deals. They make it look effortless. When you watch a hunter, it looks like they are always harvesting. The fact that they win new deals and open opportunities so consistently distracts you from the fact that they are always harvesting because they are always sowing.
In Violation of the Iron Law
What makes hunters so desirable to sales organizations is their ability to sow the seeds that eventually produce the harvest.
Salespeople who want to do better in sales, who want to make their number, or who need to win more deals would do well to observe pure hunters. They would also do well to observe the iron laws. There is no opportunity that is ever closed that isn’t first opened.
Focusing on the harvesting doesn’t improve sales results. The only way to improve your sales results is to improve your sowing. Anything else is a violation of the iron laws.
But I Have a Closing Problem
I am surprised when I hear salespeople and their sales managers suggest that they have a closing problem. They are suggesting, even though they may not think of it in these terms, that they have a harvesting problem.
When you look closer, you discover that they more often have a problem obtaining the commitments that open opportunities, and that they have a problem following some reasonable sales process that positions them to win. Their problem can’t be fixed by focusing on the harvesting.
Salespeople that struggle may have trouble obtaining the commitments that open opportunities, and that may result in them having too few opportunities. But if they are having trouble closing at the end of the sales cycle, it’s likely that their trouble obtaining commitments means that they are calling on prospects who are receptive and unqualified, or that they aren’t following a process that positions them to win. It almost always means something went wrong before the end of the sales cycle, before the harvest.
If you would be a hunter, start by understanding the law of the farm.
What really makes hunters hunters? What are the activities that allow them to obtain new opportunities and new clients at high rates?
Why do we get bogged down in thinking only of the outcome instead of what must be done to obtain that outcome?
Why can’t you violate the iron laws of sales, the universal and natural laws?
When you see a low close rate, do you believe that it is more likely that the salesperson has a problem at the end of the sales cycle or that they didn’t position themselves to win earlier?
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