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There are few things as frustrating to me then when I discover a new client, who’s hired me to come in figure out why they are missing their revenue targets, has mis-hired. This is because most of my clients are small privately-owned startups that have either taken VC money or are bootstrapping, and regardless of how they are financing their startup, they can’t afford to waste the limited financial resources they have. 

Hiring the wrong sales rep is frustrating, expensive, and could lead to you missing your revenue target as the sales leader. Repeatedly mis-hiring can literally make or break a business in its few couple of years, so as the founder, owner, or sales leader you need to make sure that you’re getting what you want and are expecting out of a “sales rep.” Most of my clients are looking for hunters and not gatherers, so let break down the differences and how you can spot a gatherer posing as a hunter! 

I usually describe the difference this way: Hunters are happy to make a baby and give birth to her, but would make terrible parents, due to lack of consistency and nurturing. Gatherers aren't interested in the pain of giving birth but can't wait to teach the child to walk and ride a bike, cheer them on when they hit a home run or perform a solo in the school musical, and can't wait to see them graduate from college and then walk them down the aisle. 

Let’s review some of the most common mistakes I uncover as it relates attempts to wanting to hire a hunter and ending up with a gatherer:

Titles are Cheap

I've worked with many different companies over the years, and I've learned that everyone has a different definition of what a sales representative is, as well as a large variety of titles for those sales reps. I like to say, "Titles are cheap and business cards are cheaper!" 

I’ve helped companies hire and train Account Executives, Account Managers, Regional Directors, Regional Managers, Sales Associates, Business Development Reps, Inside Sales Reps, and more. I can promise you that there’s a chance that all those different titles I just listed might be doing the same sales activities. 

It's important as you are looking for a new “sales rep” that you don't make any assumptions that candidates understand what your titles means. You must write a clear and detailed job description that lists the exact skills, experience, and expectations you have for the role; only then will your candidates start to better understand what type of sales position it is that you’re hiring for. 

Typical titles for hunters: Account Executive, Sales Development Reps, Business Development Reps, Regional Directors

Typical titles for gatherers: Account Managers, Customer/Client Success Managers

Not understanding the trait differences

You must understand the traits for both a hunter and a gatherer so that you are sure you are speaking the language of the role you wish to fill. 

Traits of a hunter:

  • Love the chase
  • Don't know a stranger
  • Naturally curious (some may say nosy) 
  • No interest in continuing a relationship after the sale
  • Money-motivated
  • Risk-takers
  • Love to be in control
  • Enjoys the tension during the sales process

Traits of a gatherer:

  • Helpers and nurturers by nature
  • Enjoy the process of getting to know someone over time
  • Moderate risk tolerance
  • Enjoys being a subject matter expert and always knowing the answer
  • Likes the consistency in their day-to-day work life
  • Doesn’t like the “sales tension”
  • Uncomfortable discussing or asking for money

Not knowing how to read a resume

Now that you understand the different traits associated with the two most common sales roles, you need to understand what you’re looking for on the resume to help you identify if they are a hunter or a gatherer. So, after you outline in writing exactly all the traits, skills, expectations, and amount of experience you’re requiring a qualified candidate to have, then you need to make sure you can tell the difference between those who hunt and those who gather, just by looking at their resume.

What you’ll see on a resume if they are a true hunter:

  • Grew a new market from $0 to $1M in 1 year
  • Exceeded net new revenue target by 14%
  • Added $1M in new revenue in the first 6 months
  • 112% of 2020 quota by securing 44 new accounts
  • Actively searched for new customer through outbound prospecting

What you’ll see on a resume is they are a gatherer:

  • Hit renewal target of 97%
  • Added an additional $75K in upsell revenue to my book of business
  • Grew my book of business by 12% YoY
  • Managed sales-related efforts to increase customer retention rates

Not knowing what to ask in the interview

Now that you’ve gone through the resume and attempted to separate the hunters from the gatherers, you need to make sure that you have formal interview questions prepared to ensure you’ve been able to accurately identify the hunter from the gatherers. 

Hunter interview questions:

  • How much new revenue did you generate last year and what was your strategy for doing so?
    • You’re looking to hear that they prospected themselves, got leads from marketing they follow up on, or that they had an SDR that set appts for them
  • Tell me about the hand-off process after the sale – how long do you usually stay involved after you close a deal? 
    • Days is the answer you’re looking for
  • Tell me about the last time you took a risk
    • You’re looking for a story that cause you to raise an eyebrow
  • If you missed your connecting flight and had to stay at the airport hotel that night after you check in will I find you at the hotel bar chatting is up with the bartender and fellow business travelers or in your room eating room service and watching Netflix
    • Most hunter are extroverts and as such they get their energy from others and will most likely want to be around people 

Gatherer Interview questions:

  • How many accounts do you currently manage and what is your book of business worth?
    • You just need to confirm that they manage a book of business and are not hunting for new business
  • Are you responsible for renewals and upsells?
    • Most Gatherers are responsible for renewing their book of business, but not all are responsible for upsell
  • What activities are you doing to ensure you hit your renewal target?
    • There are several things a gatherer might do:
      • Hold quarterly business reviews
      • Monitor a customer “health” score to help identify at risk customers
      • Track usage activity to ensure all licenses are assigned and being actively used
  • What’s your involvement in onboarding a new customer?
    • Most gatherers are involved in onboarding to some extent

Not using an assessment

I’ve been hiring hunters and gatherers for over 20 years now and even though I’m 90% confident in my ability to identify a hunter when I see one, I still use an assessment every time I help a client hire. Sometime an assessment will identify something you didn’t glean during the interview. Maybe they came across extremely assertive during the interview, but the assessment indicates they might be more passive than you were led to believe. I never use an assessment as a deal-breaker, only to seek more information to ensure I’m getting exactly what I’m looking for. 

Not laying out the expectations clearly during the interview process

If your new employee is expected to sell $1M in new revenue in their first year, you’d better be clear about that and share with them the ramp up plan and the revenue expectations, by month. A true hunter won’t be scared off by such conversations, in fact, they will expect it. Hunters know that they will start at zero each month and they want to understand how they’re going to get there – this will include understanding ave. sales, length of sales cycle, and the team’s current close rate. You need to be completely transparent so that the candidates can make an educated decision about if they believe they have the skills and experience to meet the expectations.

Not putting it in writing

Now that you’re ready to make a formal offer you need to make sure the offer letter includes not only the salary and commission they will get, but you need to include the revenue targets by month to ensure that everyone is clear about the expectations. 

Conclusion

I think one of the hardest jobs to hire for in the entire company is a hunter role. The reason being, hunters spend hours every day selling themselves, their product, and their company and as a result they’ve perfected their “pitching” skills and will be better prepared than candidates for other roles in your company who don’t use selling skills daily. If you follow the steps above, you’re less likely to accidently hire a gatherer when you really want a hunter. 

The hard part will be figuring out the “A” player hunters from all the rest. If you aren’t sure and want a 2nd opinion, give me a call, I’d be happy to take a run at them.