Being a salesperson is tough, and requires focused effort, confidence and motivation. So, asks Mandy Geal of business management consultants Learning Partners, what kind are you?
Neuroscience demonstrates that using your natural abilities and preferences in a role means you get more done with less effort; being in the wrong role means you use energy less effectively, which may damage your confidence. Which approach describes you best?
Types of salesperson
Farming is more focused on customer care and tends to have longer lasting, more established customer relationships. You may get deeper into the account, access more areas of the customer’s business and create more of a long-term account plan. Some people may regard it as a safer place to work.
Hunting is a more risk-oriented role and therefore better suited to people who like risks. Some people may regard it as more stressful, because there isn’t an assured level of business, and you may need more persistence and resilience to deal with setbacks.
Which role suits you better?
Attitude to risk is key to the mindset required for hunter and farmer roles. Neuroscience indicates that the part of the brain where risk is calculated predisposes a salesperson to be an explorer (hunter) or an exploiter (farmer).
If you are an explorer you may want to discover new opportunities, seek change and variation in your routine, pursue novelty, new discoveries and innovative ideas. You may have greater flexibility and increase your level of risk-taking.
If you are an exploiter you may want to fine-tune a current situation or role to suit your needs. You may feel productive and/or efficient in a role, and in charge of implementation and execution. You’re much more likely to be concerned about the things you’d lose if you changed something.
Each of these preferences has potential blind spots.
If you only explore, you may change from one situation to another without fully investigating ideas and opportunities. You may fail to develop real competence in an area and create a more risky and uncertain future for yourself. So, if you want to exploit more, as a salesperson, and make the most of opportunities, then your environment needs to contain sufficient level of challenge and choice to prevent boredom, and use your talents to the full.
If you only exploit, you may fail to create better opportunities by being stuck in a less than optimal environment through lack of flexibility and willingness to take a risk. While, in the short-term, this provides certainty and some security, it could be at the expense of much better possibilities and opportunities. So, if you want to explore more, and find new opportunities, then the current situation has to appear boring, and your abilities under-used, in order for you to take the risk of moving. Increased (financial) reward in a new situation will also help this process.
Sales Managers can use tools to understand personality, preferences, mindset and attitude to risk, in order to place salespeople in roles that suit their natural preferences better, and provide the right environment for them to thrive and succeed.
Mandy Geal is the director of Learning Partners