There are two types of Business Developers; the Hunters and the Farmers. A successful sales organization needs both types. While the former is more critical at the out-start of a new business venture, long-term repeat revenues, high client loyalty, and profitability require the skills of the latter.
You are a “Hunter” when you aggressively pursue new leads around the clock. You don’t waste time sitting behind your desk waiting for prospects to call you, and you are out in the field pursuing your fortune. Your biggest punishment is being bound to a desk for more than an hour pushing paper (unless you’re writing proposals). You go to dinner parties with a pocket full of business cards and an eye for potential leads. You even check out other couples during parents-teachers meetings and wonder which of your child’s classmates’ parents are potential leads. Your friends nick-name you “shark,” and you actually like it. In short, the focus in your professional career is to smell an opportunity a mile away and pursue it until a sale is closed.
This doesn’t mean though that Farmers are by any means less important; Farmers don’t have the Hunters’ thirst for new business, but are very talented in “farming” the fruits of what the former have established in terms of a pool of customers. The role of Farmers is to nurture relationships with customers to generate repeat business and organic growth. They are the cross and up-sellers. Their relentless efforts make sure customers remain loyal to the company and don’t become someone else’s opportunity down the line. Farmers are great in following-up, are good listeners, and great problem solvers. They are fantastic team players and know how to instill a client-centric atmosphere in the company. They salvage potential losses in terms of clients leaving the company, and form a primary source for marketing intelligence. In short, they are indispensable.
To grow sales and profits, a company needs both types; Hunters generate sales, especially from new clients, and Farmers maximize profits from repeat business. The successful sales manager has a great instinct to determine which team member is which, and accordingly assign roles and responsibilities that establish a great synergy between the two to maximize sales and profitability.
A thorough business development plan will incorporate strategies and tactics that bring the best out of the company’s Hunters and Farmers. And – yes, you guessed right – a CRM solution is an absolute must! The Hunter spends most of their time identifying leads and prospects, and populates the CRM with all relevant information. This includes notes about potential opportunities detected, meetings and presentations, preferences and areas of interest, logs of phone calls, emails, letters, and all other communication activities with the lead or prospect until he/she become customers. The CRM solution provides the Hunter with all the tools they might possibly need such as templates to send thank you notes after meetings, and reminders (that sync down to mobile phones) to call a prospect to follow-up on a pending proposals. Finally, when the prospect signs that contract and becomes a customer, the Hunter phases out of the relationship and moves on to the other opportunities that are in the sales funnel.
At this point, the Farmer starts to move into the relationship with the mission of converting the customer into a client, and then into an advocate. The Farmer accomplishes this by carefully overseeing the company’s delivery of products/services, follow-up activities, making sure the customer is always satisfied, and that their needs are adequately attended to. The Farmer will continue their communication way beyond a project’s conclusion, and alerts the customer about future opportunities such as discounts or sales, new products/services that are being launched, networking with customers during company events, and so forth. The Farmer will gradually build and strengthen a solid relationship with the customer that increases their loyalty to the extent the client-relationship has been successfully established.
If you are in business development, the key to all of the above is to determine which type you are. So take a moment and analyze your own specific skills. Do you enjoy being on the road looking for new clients, or do you excel being at the office and getting the most out of your company’s current pool of clients? If you’re in the wrong place, have a long talk with your manager and demonstrate how you can add more value to the company by moving to the other side of the equation.
About the Author
Pinnacle Business & Marketing Consulting is a results-driven boutique consulting firm that specializes in providing clients with practical and pragmatic solutions to their business and marketing challenges.
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