The discussion between the Global Vice President of Sales and his HR Business Partner was quick and to the point. “Rich is a terrific person, a valuable asset to our organization, and a very strong communicator. However, he is not a Sales Professional and never will be, so why are we talking about him for this Sales Training program?”
When the HR partner probed for more information, the VP shared; “In my opinion, Sales Professionals today are pure ‘hunters’. They are able to understand the customer’s business, effectively prospect for new customers, develop relationships, close deals, make the hand-off to account management, and then move on to the next opportunity. Rich is a great account manager, but he doesn’t have the skills to hunt. He can make sure the account is happy, and he can take new orders, but he doesn’t have the elite skills to prospect and close”
This is not the first time I’ve heard this sentiment coming from a senior sales leader. As part of my work with this client, we are designing and developing a new and more modern approach to selling through a sales training engagement heavily focused on hunting skills. One of the challenges we have is that selling – and the art of hunting specifically – have changed dramatically over the past decade and enlightened sales organizations are figuring out how to approach the process.
Hunting Skills 2019
It’s time we all face the facts; a prospective customer has more information and ideas about the solution by exploring the internet than the sales person does understanding the customer. Based on interviews, research, and observations of successful Sales Professionals who hunt, here are the top five competencies:
- Deep understanding of Business Acumen
- Understands the customer’s business challenges and opportunities
- Can engage in deep business conversations about needs and opportunities
- Can position value in business terms
- Can close deals
Defining the Competencies
These competencies have evolved over time and may mean different things to different people. All of these skills are foundational for success in 2019 and beyond. Here is a brief overview of each that can be used as a blueprint for developing sales training solutions that work:
Deep understanding of Business Acumen
Understand strategic thinking, customer business models, market place dynamics, the forces that surround an industry, and how to measure success through financial acumen such as understanding financial statements and metrics. These skills can help to identify the “players” in a market and who to focus on and prospect.
Understands the customer’s business challenges and opportunities
Using core Business Acumen as the foundation, the Hunter can use strategic thinking and financial skills to understand the customers business, challenges, and opportunities from the business perspective (not just the sales perspective). Can use these skills to prospect and determine who the appropriate targets are.
Can engage in deep business conversations about needs and opportunities
Once the situation is understood, the hunter can engage in deep business conversations – often as a peer – with the prospect to define how the challenges are impacting the customer’s business and how the opportunities potentially can positively impact the customer’s business. The entire conversation is about the customer’s business and doesn’t include the Hunter’s products or services yet.
Can position value in business terms
This is where the dialogue migrates from understanding customer needs and solving them. But solving them doesn’t mean pushing a product. It means positioning the value of the solution in terms that impact the customer’s business and is measurable and quantifiable.
Can close deals
The first four steps are meaningless unless the Hunter closes the business. Closing the deal in today’s business environment means the customer knows and understands the value the Hunter is bringing to the table and asks the Hunter to start the paperwork, not the other way around! If the Hunter has done everything right, the customer can’t live without the solutions and basically closes the deal for the Hunter. This approach requires patients and if done well can lead to years of profitable revenue.