Options on Building High-Performance Sales Teams

Traditionally, there are two types of sales people, Farmers and Hunters. Farmers will love and service your customers once you have them in the door. Hunters will knock on doors to find new customers and be motivated by the hunt.

Many companies pick people with strong product knowledge, who will look after existing customers (Farmers) and then want them to bring in new customers something they are not comfortable or good at. Farmers perform best on wages plus a team bonus, hunters work best on a small wage with large commission targeted at whatever you want them to do, with no ceiling.

Increasing Farmer sales

If you wish to have your Farmers increase your market share, here are some ideas.

Create a quarterly theme such as repeat business, referrals or new clients. Why quarterly? If you have a monthly target, you can achieve a sudden growth for the month then everyone cruises and at the end of the quarter, you are behind your targets.

Set an incentive that accelerates with success. For example, lowest target means the team goes to the tavern for dinner. Higher target, the team get to take their wives to a nice restaurant. Higher target, the team go for a weekend somewhere local.

You can combine individual targets and a group target running at the same time. However, you must keep their focus on the target as quarterly is a long horizon for the average employee. You must do something to keep them excited and focused.

The kind of incentives you use for Farmers are also different from what you offer Hunters. Farmers are often stable family men or women and would prefer vouchers for improving their homes such as a landscaping voucher. They like incentives that will include their families. Sending farmers off to Bali for a partyfest will soon stop being an incentive as leaving the family will not appeal.

A Tag-team

Some companies try the tag-team approach. The Hunter gets in the door and sets up the deal, then the hunter looks after them. For this to work, they have to bond and work as a strong team. I have seen one company where the Hunter actually pays a small percentage of the Farmer’s wage, with the company paying the rest. The Hunter really gets fired up in them both working well together, I can tell you.

The Sales Manager

Either way you choose, if you want a high-performance sales team, the Management of them is vital. The Sales Manager is absolutely imperative to the successful formula. You have to keep them focused on their targets, motivated to achieve, feeling valuable and stretching further than they think they can go. A great sales team with an average Sales Manager will become an average sales team and eventually, your good people will peel off. Sales people must feel they are important and respond best, when they have to stretch for it. They are a completely different breed of employee, and thrive on risk, tension, uncertainty and going for it.

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