There are several common mistakes made in talent management. One of them is the promotion of a top producer to the position of sales manager based solely on his or her sales success. The second one is asking an “account manager” to function as a “hunter”.
Albert Einstein wrote, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Einstein’s quote clearly articulates the issue. I realize you know this but I’m going to remind you, if it’s your goal to build a sales team that consistently hits its numbers, you’ve got to get the right people on the bus and in the right seats! (Good to Great, Collins).
When it comes to the art & science of selling nothing squelches the fires of motivation and performance more thoroughly than a poor job fit.
And, if you own a company, you already know that hiring wrong comes at an extremely high price -- in the cost of training, salary, benefits, lost opportunity and potential damage to your brand.
On the flip side, having the right person in the right role can be extremely impactful. So, why do so many organizations get it so wrong?
At first glance, account managers and hunters appear to have similar skills and goals -- to build strong relationships based on trust, close deals and increase profitable revenue.
Because they are so similar it’s easy to confuse the two roles or say that a person successful in one role will naturally be successful in the other. That just simply isn’t the case.
Both job functions are different and important for your organization to be successful, and both require two different sets of DNA and selling competencies. Understanding those differences and the needs required for each role are key elements to your financial success.
The Hunter vs. The Account Manager
These two sales roles require different DNA, skills, and strengths.
The hunter, often referred to as a “new business development representative”, specifically deals with “new prospects”.
These are the reps that get jazzed and literally experience an adrenaline rush when they battle through the sales process with a new prospect and ultimately come out victorious. This is how they are naturally wired!
These are the salespeople who move from deal to deal and remain thirsty for the next win. Successful new business developers/sales reps are wired to always be networking, prospecting and mining golden referrals. They’re multi-faceted individuals who love to win and hate to lose and they are comfortable taking risks.
By contrast, the account manager builds long-term loyalty and repeat business with existing clients. They are comfortable maintaining relationships and meeting with the same people on a weekly and monthly basis. Their “new business” comes in the form of incremental revenue identified and secured within existing accounts.
Successful account managers are able to be advocates for their clients. They are patient and persistent, good at managing their time, and possess strong interpersonal and team building skills.
Why you need both.
It’s an unfortunate common practice that many CEOs do not see the difference between the two roles in question and often attempt to increase sales by reassigning an account manager to the role of hunter. This typically is a desperate move to increase sales and often ends up doing the exact opposite: reducing revenue, increasing discounting and reducing profitability.
Now, we understand that a startup or smaller company, still in its initial growth phases, often has no choice but to ask a sales rep to function as a “hybrid” who hunts for new business and also maintains a set of existing accounts.
That’s part of the business growth cycle. We just want to emphasize that this approach requires a significant amount of support from management, an understanding and focus on behalf of all parties to pull this off successfully, and a focus on only doing this for a short period of time until the team can hire another rep and separate the roles.
If you now realize that you made some mistakes in placement based on a misunderstanding of the role of hunter vs. account manager, you have a few solutions available to you:
1. Use evaluation data and predictive talent analytics to restructure your sales force.
If you think you have multiple sellers in the wrong roles, a DNA & selling skills evaluation can provide you the visibility you need to understand the competencies of your entire sales team – along with predictions of each person’s capacity for different sales roles. (This is also relevant if you only have one salesperson.)
2. Re-assign people to roles that are a better match.
If they are the right people but simply in the wrong role, develop a transition process. With this decision, you can leverage the seller’s talent by reassigning them to a role that complements their strengths and skill set. Of course, you’ll then have an empty position to fill, but a right recruitment and selection process can help you avoid placing an individual incorrectly again.
3. Commit to Never Putting the Right Person in the Wrong Role Again
To ensure you put the right people in the right roles in the future, the best strategy is to look at your data and develop ideal profiles for each sales position. Assessment and performance data can help you determine the competencies you need for each of your sales roles. Actively use the right role profile each time you seek to fill a sales position. A structured interview process coupled with assessment data ensures the best chance at putting the right person in the right role.
If you’re ready to get started analyzing your existing talent and potentially reorganizing and rebuilding your sales team for growth, give us a call.
Sales management expert Duane Cashin has lead award-winning sales organizations and trained sales teams for companies of all sizes. He’s earned membership in Presidents Club and Circle of Excellence, successfully built and sold his own multi-million-dollar business, and enjoys sharing his passion for sales.