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  • Writer's pictureYusko Consulting

Hope Is Not A Strategy, Identifying Your Team Part 2

Updated: Mar 16, 2023

By Andrew Yusko

Last week I posted Part 1 of this 2 part series, if you didn’t get a chance to check that article out, you can find it here. In part 1 I detailed the first three types of sales people, of seven, that Rick Page details in his book Hope Is Not a Strategy. To recap those seven types are:

1. The Teller

2. The Consultative Seller

3. The Hunter

4. The Farmer

5. The Business Developer

6. The Partner

7. The Industry-Networked Consultant

As I stated in part 1, there is no “best” or “worst” type in this group. There also is nothing to the way they are listed, there is no hierarchy. Just because the Farmer is number four doesn’t mean it is better than the partner that is number six. This is just detailing the types of sales people or styles that sales people possess. Today I have two objectives in this article, the first is to detail the remaining four types, the second is to tell you why it is important to identify the types of sales people you have.

Let’s jump right in.

The Farmer

The easiest way I can describe a farmer is they are the “account manager” guy. They are best suited to manage existing business and help facilitate future sales. Now many organizations call their sales people “account managers.” Just because that is their title doesn’t mean that is what they are best suited for. Often your farmers are your guys that aren’t as competitive and that like to take care of their customers from a long-term relationship perspective rather then turn and burn like hunters. Rick Page details the farmer like this: “If your solution is complex enough to require an on-site support person to help the client implement it, and if your solution can generate repeat business, then the best salesperson on the second sale is often the project manager on the first sale. They are the advanced scouts for repetitive selling, where greater profitability lies.”

The way I can typically spot a farmer is by their activity level. I don’t mean this from the sense of how active they are in their lives. What I mean is I monitor their sales activities by looking at how much time they spend in different areas. If you see a salesperson that spends a lot of their time with existing customers rather than hunting for new business, there is a good chance you are dealing with a farmer. You have to be careful here though, just because you have a sales person that isn’t going out hunting doesn’t mean they are a farmer, it could mean they are just lazy. Your first step will be identifying if they are lazy or not, after that if they have all of the key characteristics of a good salesperson but they spend a lot of time with existing customers, then you are likely dealing with a farmer.

The Business Developer

Because most people have a rudimentary understanding of sales many believe that you have either hunters or farmers, as I’ve detailed in part 1 of this series. When you get into this level of nuance in the types of sales people that exist it can be harder to distinguish between types. The business developer is one of the areas that creates difficulty, because many would think that the hunter and the business developer are the same role. They aren’t.

As I discussed in part 1, the hunter is the competitor. They are going out trying to win competitive business that is presented to them. The business developer is the guy going out and creating the need. That is the way you can tell you are dealing with a business developer. Are they the cold caller in the office? Are they always looking for the new opportunity to cultivate need? If so, they are a business developer. Rick Page details them this way: “Our consulting clients use the title ‘business developer’ not only to avoid the designation of ‘salesperson,’ with its many un-wanted connotations to consultants, but also because these people develop demand rather than react to demand. This type of selling has also been called the ‘prospector’ and, in the case of most successful consulting partners, ‘rainmaker’.”

To recap, the difference between a hunter and a business developer is a hunter reacts to competitive business and a business developer goes out and creates the opportunities. The business developer is the guy you want prospecting and doing as much cold calling as possibly. Let the “rainmaker” make it rain!

The Partner

The partner is another one of the sales person types that can cause some confusion. Just like the hunter and the business developer, the partner and the farmer are very similar. I’ll let Rick Page’s description explain then we can talk about the difference: “The essence of partnering is trust: trust in the company, trust in the product or service, and trust in the individual… To become a business partner, however, you also have to solve higher-level business problems for your clients… A consultative salesperson [that is a Partner salesperson] must look beyond the customer’s needs to the customer’s customer.”

The key difference between the farmer and the partner is that the partner can not only help clients solve their problems, they can help their client’s client. I know that is redundant so here is an example; a roofer who is a partner will not only care about putting on the roof that the GC is asking for but will figure out the type of roof that the customer ultimately wants and help the GC by providing their expertise that in turn, helps them satisfy their customer. Most people believe that a partner is simply someone that they do business with multiple times, but a true partnership is where both ends of the deal benefit equally. If you want to be a true partner or cultivate a “partner” sales team, then you need to teach your people how to see past what the customer is asking for and see what the customer’s customer really needs.

The Industry-Networked Consultant

In my opinion the easiest sales person type or style to identify is the industry-networked consultant. The reason being that it is not as much a style or a type as it is something that is gained over time. You don’t have industry-networked consultants coming right out of college. This is a sales person type that is identified over the course of years. Rick Page describes them this way: “This type of sales professional has executive and operational contacts built over the years throughout an industry and is seen as an advisor and resource by executives. These salespeople are recognized for whatand whomthey know… They help executives find partners, vendors, personnel, and financing.”

I know that many of you reading this right now are probably thinking to yourself, “wouldn’t this be the owner of a company or in management somewhere?” That is a fair and valid question, to that I would answer, yes and no. It is true that most of the people that achieve this status don’t stay in an individual contributor role for long. However, that is not always the case. Many professional sales people gain this role over time and prefer to continue in an individual contributor capacity for many different reasons. If you happen to come across one of these types, I would advise that you do your best to accommodate their style because they can be very lucrative for your business.

Now that we have gone through all 7 types as outlined by Rick Page in Hope Is Not A Strategy, you may be asking yourself, ‘why is this important’? I understand that sentiment as many organizations are focused on just getting enough customers to keep the lights on and to cover payroll. From my perspective however, this is vitally important. I have done work for many organizations where I come into the company and the owners tell me about that one sales guy that they just can’t figure out why he won’t do more. Now I will admit that there are times that I find that it is just because the person isn’t a good fit for the organization. However, most of the time after working with that salesperson I have found that it isn’t the salesperson that is the problem, it is the way they are used. Let me explain.

When you are forming your sales team, hopefully at the beginning of the organization’s life, you should be deciding what type of product you sell. I don’t mean “what” you sell I mean the type of product. Is your product or service something that the consumer consumes one time, or do they consume it multiple times? Are you in the retail space, do you sell direct to customers, do you sell direct to businesses? All of these questions should be answered first before you start to look for sales people. If you do your due diligence in this way, then you can better identify the types of sales people that you need. If you are a new organization that needs to go out and find business, then you need to fill your team with business developers. If your organization is just looking to manage its book of business, then you need to find a bunch of farmers. Maybe you are a contractor that gets invited to bid on jobs and you need to win more jobs, then a hunter would be great for you.

I see a lot of organizations fail and sales teams fail because they don’t know how to deploy their talent correctly. Think about it from a sports perspective. In baseball you have to be strategic in the way that you deploy your players. Your center fielder likely needs to be the fastest guy on the team with the most range, your right fielder is usually your outfielder that has the biggest arm or is the guy who is a defensive liability but who’s bat you want in the lineup, and your shortstop has to be the guy with the softest hands and enough arm to get the ball across the diamond from the hole. I could go on and apply this same mentality in a bunch of other sports and other areas. It wouldn’t make sense for you to put your shortstop in right field and play your right fielder at short, because you want to deploy your team in the best possible way. When applied to your business you can see that maybe the issue isn’t the people you have on the team, it is the way you are using them. You should be committed to finding their role so that they can be successful. Not only for your organization’s success, but for your people’s success.

I guarantee you that if you do this type of assessment on your sales people you will find out some great information and you will then be able to deploy your sales people in a more intelligent fashion in the future.

If you need help identifying your team and putting them in a position to succeed, contact us, we can help.

Andrew T. Yusko Jr.

Director of Sales

Campany Roof Maintenance


Managing Consultant

Yusko Consulting Services LLC

For information on the book Hope Is Not A Strategy go here.


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