By Bill Pirtle
SpotOn Transact LLC
Many companies that recruit and hire salespeople mention a desire for hunter/seeker types. What they mean is they want salespeople who can create and drive their own sales through cold calling. Curious about comparing salespeople to hunters, I googled types of hunting and found the following categories that can be used as analogies for different sales approaches:
Camouflage typically brings to mind fatigues and face paint, but in a sales context, camouflage refers to someone dressed as a customer or business associate. Have you ever walked into a location and immediately been asked, "What are you selling?" If you wear a suit when approaching a prospect in jeans, you may be sending the vibe that you don't see yourself at their level. This may create a barrier to rapport. By dressing similarly to the prospect, you can be seen as at the same level and gain rapport more quickly.
In sales, industry giants or Fortune 500 prospects can be likened to big game such as elephants. Midsize businesses could be likened to elk or deer. When going after top companies, you need different strategies to accommodate sales cycles that may take months. With midsize businesses (or restaurants in the payments industry) you will typically be looking at five to 10 calls to close a deal. This requires patience. Most salespeople targeting midsize businesses have multiple opportunities in their pipeline.
In sales, small game refers to small businesses or mom-and-pop locations. In the credit card processing/ POS world, small businesses typically have a credit card processing volume of $10,000 to $50,000 per month. In sales, these accounts are called rabbits. Small businesses are usually a one-call close, maybe two. New salespeople will often focus on these businesses to hone their skills. They will make less per account, but they can use these to build wins and production bonuses.
Whether earning residuals or building accounts into repeat sales, most salespeople would be wise to pursue small and big game. Focusing exclusively on larger businesses can cost you when they switch service providers. Salespeople with a mix of accounts will benefit by being able to maintain sales under different environments.
Active hunters stalk their prey. While many salespeople just look for a pulse and use more of a shotgun approach. True hunters study the game they seek. Rarely will you see a hunter set out to target deer, become frustrated, and shoot at rabbits or squirrels just to bring something home. Many professional salespeople go after certain verticals. As they learn what appeals to one business owner in a vertical, they find others in that vertical who desire the same thing. Determining common needs of owners in a business type narrows the sales cycle, as you gain expertise in your field.
Many salespeople are cold callers. They pull up in an area and hit every business on the street or complex. With the pandemic, cold calling is undergoing a metamorphosis. Walking door-to-door may no longer be tolerated and may not come back to previous levels once we are past the COVID-19 crisis. But there are smarter ways to reach out to people.
Bait and tree stands are sometimes listed together, but I do not think they should be. Many states have laws that prohibit baiting an area while hunting. In sales, bait, or incentives, can be game changing in certain circumstances (including a pandemic). To illustrate, one processor waived setup and monthly fees for an online ordering system for restaurants from March through December 2020, a benefit bound to appeal to some prospects.
Some people use a stand when hunting. It is an elevated platform, sometimes built into a tree, where hunters patiently wait for deer (or other game) to come to them. In sales, the tree stand can be seen as an environment around your prospects (associations, chambers of commerce) or as referrals from members of your network or networking group (BNI and similar groups). Utilizing social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other platforms) also can bring prospects your way.
When evaluating salespeople (recruiters are salespeople, too, as they sell their company) during this pandemic and after, consider people who are both active in pursuing a vertical and who have a network of people or are capable of building one.
Sales is a numbers game. Using a variety of approaches will bring a much higher number of prospects into focus. The biggest similarity I see between hunting and sales is passion. Ask a hunter about his best hunt, and he'll regale you for hours with every detail.
Although some salespeople are only in this profession for the income, many find excitement in the details whether they enjoy helping customers or celebrating wins. In today's COVID-19 environment, there are fewer opportunities and more competition. Whether selling or interviewing, bring passion for finding new ways to hunt, and make the most of every opportunity.
Bill Pirtle authored Credit Card Processing for Sales Agents in 2012 and is working on a second edition. He is currently employed by SpotOn Transact LLC as a recruiter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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