Speaking to a group of sales executives a few months ago, I posed this question to the room –“how many of you have made a bad hiring decision?” Every single person in the room raised their hand. If you’ve hired people for any length of time, you are bound to have made at least one mistake. Hiring the wrong salesperson can be even more common – especially seasoned salespeople who are skilled in selling themselves in interviews.
Given that this is the month of horror movies, we thought it would be fun to tell some sales-hiring horror tales. In this blog, I’m sharing some of the darkest scenarios my network was willing to share with me. The only thing I wish is that they could have been told under a full moon, around a blazing campfire with howling winds bristling tree branches. But honestly – making a bad hiring decision is scary enough without the audiovisual effects.
Here are some tales narrated by industry colleagues. Read on if you dare.
We once hired someone who never resigned from their prior company after accepting a sales position at ours. They covered it well for the first few months, but after several missed sales calls and team meetings, we got suspect. And what made it even worse than the fact that this person was trying to hold onto two full-time jobs, the other company was a competitor!
We had a salesperson who appeared to be one of those rock star overnight successes. She landed huge contracts with highly regarded multinational companies in record time. Our sales leader strutted her on stage touting her lightning speed hunter capabilities while pretty much shaming all of us. Turns out this person was falsifying customer contracts and ended up facing charges for federal wire fraud. Needless to say, employee engagement took a big dive during that time too.
We hired someone who had high scores on an assessment we were using at the time. On her resume, she had changed positions often, which was a red flag, but we trusted the tool. She was professional, friendly and interviewed well. Once in the role, it was clear she oversold herself. She really struggled with the fundamentals. She had shared many times that her husband was a seasoned sales professional. We’re pretty sure he took the assessment for her.
Two colleagues had the same horror story with somewhat different plot lines. They hired employees who never showed up on the first day. Turns out one was doing time in jail for a DUI when the start date came around. The other person just seemed to disappear for what would seem like an eternity – until they showed up on social media enthusiastically posting from another company.
One colleague in my network asked a great question when I was asking for these horror stories. She wondered if errors of omission could also lead to a hiring nightmare – especially when top talent is so hard to find. Thankfully they avoided it by revising their hiring criteria… During a recent recruiting process, we had a referral from an employee, but the referral didn't have a degree, which was a requirement in the job description. She campaigned for the hiring manager to at least give this woman a chance considering her stellar record of success and the high praise from an employee. We ended up hiring her and even promoting her a few years later.
If we ever are sitting around a campfire together, I’ll be glad to terrorize you with some personal horror stories of my own. Unfortunately, there are some scary ones and I’ve had my share of mistakes. The good news is the drama that goes along with a selection process doesn’t have to end horribly if we follow a thorough selection process and do our jobs well when it comes to onboarding, development, coaching, and performance management. Take the time to do your due diligence when hiring. Act swiftly as soon as you get the “spidey” sense that something is awry post-hire.
This graphic depicts Omnia’s view of selection best practices and the weight by % each factor should have on your final decision. While it pains me to hear the tale of the assessment not working out, we strongly encourage our clients to use other factors when making hiring decisions. And to the point of omission, this is a great time to re-visit your job requirements. For the sales hire committing fraud – turns out she had done that at 2 other companies prior. This might have been uncovered in reference calls or a background check.
To avoid being the star of your own horror movie, where the audience is yelling at you to avoid the dark hallway and to not open that doorway when the scary music is playing in the background, follow these steps and consider each factor of the selection criteria. It will make for a much more rewarding experience – for the people in your company who are like the viewers of a bad horror flick, for your clients, and you.
Even if you’ve never seen the movie A League of Their Own, it’s likely you’re familiar with the scene where Tom Hanks loses his temper and famously rants, “There’s no crying in baseball!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6M8szlSa-8o. As a sales leader, I’m sure you’ve had a similar feeling and fought back that same sort of emotional reaction when one of your salespeople has done something that’s utterly mindboggling to you. Let’s face it, selling can be hard, and coaching salespeople can be even harder.
I’m a huge fan of the 1992 film A League of Their Own - a mostly fictionalized account of the early days of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) and its stars. Founded by Philip K. Wrigley to keep baseball alive while the world was at war, the league existed from 1943 to 1954. The AAGPBL is the forerunner of women's professional league sports in the United States. Over 600 women played in the league, which consisted of eventually 10 teams located in the American Midwest. In 1948, league attendance peaked at over 900,000 spectators. The most successful team, the Rockford Peaches, won a league-best four championships.
Tom Hanks plays Jimmy Dugan, a maimed and drunken former all-star who reluctantly agrees to coach the Rockford Peaches. It takes him awhile to wake up for the games and once he finally does, he struggles with how to coach without yelling and cussing relentlessly at his players. Over the course of the movie, Jimmy sobers up and learns about each of his players and how to bring out the best in them. Like Jimmy’s team, your salespeople likely come in many forms and have a mix of personalities. These differences call for adaptation in the way you develop, coach and motivate your team. And losing your cool on them is never a great strategy.
Through 35 years of personality data analysis, The Omnia Group has identified 17 distinct personality groups. They break down even further into unique sales styles. After recently watching A League of Their Own again, I got to thinking about these characters and how I would slot them into these personality groups and the challenges a sales leader could have in coaching any of them.
There’s one commonality among every sales style. In Omnia terms - they all have a tall column 1 – level of assertiveness. The uniqueness comes through in the other 3 traits.
In Omnia’s eight-column instrument the Visionary Personality style is a 1-3-5-7. This is a classic sales personality. Dottie is assertive, competitive, outgoing, fast-paced, and decisive. Visionaries are optimistic, expressive, and determined to win. Visionaries accept risk for high reward and naturally take charge in any setting. In the movie, while manager Jimmy Dugan sleeps, Dottie creates the lineup and coaches throughout the game. The day Jimmy wakes up and challenges her calls and hand signals, she swiftly snaps at him telling him to get his act together. She also quickly becomes the fan and media favorite as the catcher who rarely misses a catch even while doing the splits to get a photo-op to help promote the league.
Visionaries aren’t afraid of speaking up and speaking out when they see something wrong. This can cause some coaching challenges for a sales leader who isn’t confident and strong in their own position. Visionaries are forthright with their opinions, comfortable with conflict and push back when they don’t agree with you. As a sales leader, you may have to keep your own ego in check and be OK with not having all the right answers. If you’ve got a strong visionary on your team who hits their numbers while earning the respect of their teammates and clients, the best thing you can do is be there when they need you and not when they don’t. Let your visionary shine and thrive. Your role is to support and guide them while removing any obstacles on their path to success.
In many ways we wish all salespeople could be like Dottie Hinson. But you need more than one player on the team, and there are benefits to having players with other traits.
With Omnia columns 1-3-6-7, there’s a not-so-subtle nuance between the visionary and the persistent visionary. And that’s their love of doing things their way and at their own deliberate pace. Stubborn? Yes! This is Kit to a tee. Assertive, outgoing, independent, patient, and focused, the persistent visionary is committed to results and loves the limelight. Kit can’t wait to get to the big city, play in the competitive league and make a stadium full of new friends. She struggles under Dottie’s shadow and bossiness.
Persistent visionaries are motivated by individuality and will likely push back on coaching they don’t agree with. They aren’t inclined to back down easily and like doing things their way to get the project complete. Your persistent visionary can get stuck on a deal that isn’t likely to close and work themselves tirelessly not wanting to give up while leaving other deals untouched. Don’t let them stubbornly chip away at a lost cause. Kit loved swatting at high balls and never wanted to be taken out of the game when her pitching arm was shot. As a coach, you’ve got to stroke the ego and nurture the confidence in a persistent visionary while helping keep their eye on the right ball. Keep them aimed at the long-term outcomes and goals. Give them assurances along the way and be prepared for a few battles if they don’t agree with your thinking. They do not like being told how to do things. They will persist! Dottie referred to Kit as “mule” throughout the movie quite fittingly. That stubbornness can pay off though if guided positively. Spoiler alert: Kit’s stubbornness makes a difference in the final game.
Columns 1-3-5-8, the assertive diplomat nuance comes in the column 8’s need for structure, detail, and perfection. Ellen Sue is the essence of an assertive diplomat. As a former Miss Georgia, she is the image of a fierce competitor with the grace and diplomacy of a southern socialite. She’s a relentlessly strong relief pitcher, and my favorite scene comes when she takes out a heckling fan yelling “girls can’t play baseball” when she aims a fast pitch directly his way instead of the plate.
Assertive diplomats are just as competitive and outgoing as the rest. They are quick-paced, but also very accommodating. They are committed to quality outcomes while ensuring team engagement. Ellen Sue wrote the team song and led the singing of it each game through the reunion at the end of the movie. When it comes to coaching, be specific and detailed in your feedback. Salespeople with this personality style like having a clear picture of what’s expected, with guidance and support to do their work along the way. They respect and appreciate procedures. Make sure guidelines are clear, and that compliments come often. A salesperson with this unique personality style thrives on positive feedback and affirmation. If they get feedback about getting something wrong or make a mistake, they can take it very personally and could need some propping up before going back to bat again. When your team needs propping up and working through challenges, you’ll be glad to have a person like this with the spunk and diplomacy to help cheer everyone on.
Fans of the movie will remember the moment Marla Hootch is introduced at the gym where she hits continual solid line drives through multiple gym windows. The assertive analytic, columns 1-4-5-8, is assertive, direct, pragmatic, fast-paced, and by the book. A senior, highly developed salesperson with the assertive analytic personality style will be considered the expert in the field who everyone goes to for their knowledge, skill, and expertise. They get right down to business and are more analytical and intentional than any other sales personality. They’re natural multi-taskers and excel at problem-solving. They thrive on data-intensive work, love processes and structure, and do everything with precision.
What’s interesting about this personality to me is their quiet strength. This isn’t going to be the loudest person on your team. In fact, you may often overlook critical input or creativity from this person because they aren’t the one who is talking first. You could go through an entire sales huddle and never hear from this person. They don’t talk just to hear themselves or process extemporaneously like some of the other personalities on your team. But, when they speak you want to listen. Anything they have to say will be backed with data, acts, and objectivity.
The best coaches have consistent winning seasons because they know how to bring out the best of their players and leverage the talent across their team. The greatest sales leaders who consistently exceed their sales targets do so by getting the best out of all their salespeople. No salesperson is the same. The more time you spend getting to know the unique traits and motivations of your individual salespeople, the easier it will be to lead them, develop them, and help them reach peak performance. I can’t guarantee there still won’t be a few tears. But when you realize what lifts someone up and makes them want to do better, and what demoralizes them you can get to the heart of how to help someone thrive.
Selling is hard. That’s why we pay salespeople the big commission for winning the deals. And I believe that leading a team of dynamic and diverse sales personalities is even harder. I know 25 years in, I still make mistakes. I l haven’t figured it all out and have some daily struggles that can leave me rendered speechless looking like Tom Hanks. The good news is his character evolves and he got better at the end with Evelyn. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8kP3vKaDRE. We can too.
When times get tough for me, I think of that scene when Jimmy Dugan is talking to Dottie about staying to finish the season. It strikes the point perfectly. He tells her baseball is something that just gets inside of you. I believe that selling and the challenge of succeeding at sales is very similar. When Dottie tells him it just got too hard, he says…” It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.” Getting greatness out of your team – leading them to be their very best and seeing their success is what makes it great.
Ready to get started? To get to know your team better, contact us to assess your sales team and get an Omnia Sales Style report that outlines each sales person’s unique personality along with developmental insights and motivational tips.
Hiring the right person the first time is the hardest part of recruitment. These days, people have plenty of choices when it comes to their next opportunity. The average cost of a bad hire is up to 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings according to the U.S. Department of Labor. However, one report from the CEO of Link Humans puts the average cost as high as $240,000 in expenses. When broken down, the costs relate to hiring, retention, and pay. This is especially true when hiring someone for your sales team, as the cost increases due to lost revenue opportunities.
When calculating the cost of a bad hire, consider:
The best way to stay focused and secure a successful hire is to have a plan and to remain dedicated to working the plan.
If you are like many companies, you don’t have a designated HR department. If you are like many managers, hiring is a headache. Hiring is risky, there are no guarantees, and people will always have a few unpredictable gray areas. In other words, people are not always consistent. We are impacted by things like our morning commute, our grumpy but talented coworker, or a boss who doesn’t take the time to get to know their team. The need for an individual who is comfortable with the work AND the workplace is critical.
Obviously, this is a task to consider carefully. The steps below will help you to focus on attaining a successful hire and avoid costly mistakes. While no process is perfect when dealing with human beings, staying on plan can give you the edge you need.
Step 1: Develop a new hire checklist, identify your needs, and identify what doesn’t work.
For example, individuals who need a great deal of recognition might not be happy in an inconspicuous job, and passive people could avoid tasks like cold calling or taking aggressive actions.
In this step, identify the exact traits you’d like for members of your sales team. For example, to be successful in sales, one has to be assertive. With the Omnia Assessment, this equates to a tall column 1 (as indicated above).
Step 2: Identify recruiting channels. Don’t only seek experienced applicants because that can lead to the “recycling” of unsuccessful yet “experienced” individuals. Remember, recruiting is not one person’s exclusive responsibility. Every supervisor/manager should have an ongoing goal that states, “Through my own networking, during hiring times, I will solicit and present two viable candidates per month.” This is especially true for anyone with a private office and a door!
It is easy to get comfortable in your own office but getting out in the community and letting people know you’re looking for talent is wonderful PR. The type of position does NOT matter. Networking is important whether you’re recruiting an executive assistant for yourself, a sales rep, or a manager. For salespeople, be very active in recruiting on LinkedIn.
Step 3: Get professional assistance if you use online job boards and/or classified advertising on the Internet or the newspaper. Asking someone unbiased questions about your ad’s content will result in more qualified responses. The more targeted your advertising is, the less filtering you’ll have to do.
Step 4: Filter your response using the list of traits identified in Step 1. Watch for “date blending” on resumes and resumes that contain only years. Send “not interested” letters to the appropriate candidates. Remember the rule of thumb – disgruntled people reach at least ten others. Happy people tell only one or two. This, like networking, is very inexpensive positive PR.
Step 5: Contact applicants and schedule a five-minute phone screening interview. Explain your process to the candidate.
Step 6: Send qualified candidates an Omnia assessment. With the Omnia Assessment, you go into the interview prepared with specific details on the personality traits of the individual being considered. You’re going to want to focus on candidates with tall 1-3-5-7 columns, like the image above.
Step 7: Interview the candidates in person or via video at least two times on two different days. There are many reasons for two interviews: to ensure they arrive on time both days, to ask a couple of duplicate questions to check consistency, and to give them a chance to ask additional questions they didn’t think of on their first visit.
Interview using both traditional questions, such as “How many hours did you work at XYZ Company?” or “What is your ideal job?” and behavioral questions, such as “Tell me about the last time you had to deal with an irate client” or “Tell me how you ranked competitively among the local sales team for the last quarter.”
Step 8: Have at least one additional interviewer meet the applicant, and have the applicant meet with at least one potential peer. Additionally, have the applicant do a “job preview." By job preview, we mean that each applicant should sit with, ride with, etc., someone doing the proposed job now for at least 2-4 hours. Incompatibility with the job is cause for 50% of employee turnover.
If possible, have the applicant prepare and present some presentation or role-play. By this, we don’t mean “sell me the pen." Instead, while on your premises, ask the applicant to write a short proposal, a business letter, or do a mock sales presentation, any of which are tied to your line of work and to the job for which they are applying. If you’re seeking a sales rep to sell an intangible, asking the person to sell you a Bic is not job-relevant, but asking them to review your collateral materials for 15 minutes, then make a presentation based on that is very job-relevant.
Step 9: Proceed with a full range of background checks. This is more to cover yourself in case there’s something not picked up during the interview and recruitment process. Remember, put the fact that you require background checks in your job description to weed out candidates who aren’t willing to do them.
Step 10: Write an offer letter outlining the position, the expectations, benefits, and the compensation (monthly or weekly increments). Explain in the offer letter that this is not a contractual agreement. The offer letter should begin with “Pending satisfactory background checks.”
Once you’ve finished these steps, it’s time to help your new hire flourish in your organization. Use your Omnia Assessment from Step 6 to identify key traits that will help with managing your new associate. If you’re interested in using the Omnia Assessment for your hiring process, contact us today!
BK, one of my favorite sales leaders of all time, got it right most of the time. Bob is his real first name, but he always referred to himself as BK, and he always used my nickname, Ketch. Right off the bat, he was personal. BK was an amazing coach, motivator, problem solver, firefighter, and an all-out inspirational leader. When I worked for him, I wanted to be my best at every moment. He inspired, managed, coached, and led me to be a consistently successful sales professional who never missed my number and made the sales trip every year. He used quotes, books, and themes to anchor us on our path to success each year. I have every book he gave us sitting on my bookshelf today, and they will survive the downsizing tirade I’m on. (But that’s another blog). One of my favorite BK sayings is Gladiators amid battle should not be interrupted to discuss sword patterns.
You see, BK knew how to motivate; we felt like superstars who could achieve anything, big or small. We won record-breaking deals under his leadership. We ranked first as a sales team, and each of us won almost every prize possible for new business, account retention, and client growth under his tutelage. He protected us from unnecessary meetings, non-value sales processes, and cumbersome reporting that could get in the way of meeting our sales goals. BK also gave me my first shot at being a sales manager, and, most importantly, taught me a lot about how to lead. He would always say, “Ketch, a great leader is there when you need them and not when you don’t; and the best leaders know the difference.”
As we wrap up our series on Sales Success, it’s only appropriate that we turn our attention to Sales Leadership and consider the key elements needed to lead a team to success.
According to my sales personality test, I’m a tall column 1 on the Omnia Sales Style profile, which means I’m highly assertive and love to win. So, it’s no surprise that the thing I love most about being in sales is that there’s always a goal to hit with clear measures to know how you’re tracking towards the goal. Of course, there’s more to it than quotas and sales targets. A winning sales leader sets the vision and paints a picture of what success looks like. Then they keep reminding people of the vision and how they’re doing on the path to get there.
A visionary sales leader challenges their team to build on their strengths and go after high achievements. The best sales leaders are clear, concise and compelling when communicating expectations. A visionary sales leader is clear about where the team is now, where they are headed, and how to get there. The vision includes team values, expectations, and norms for interactions with clients and each other, and across functions. When things go badly, as they sometimes can, the visionary leader isn’t afraid to bring people together for a reality check to get the necessary parties back on the path. Sometimes sword patterns do need to be discussed so the team can improve.
In sales the numbers are set, the goals are clear, and it’s typically easy to know if you’re succeeding or not. As a sales leader though, you’re going to hit your goals in different ways through the unique selling strengths of the individuals on your team. Not every salesperson is the same, and the worst thing you can do is treat them that way. Not every salesperson sells the same way. You may have a team of hunters, farmers, or CSRs responsible for customer service with upsell/cross-sell objectives.
One of the most common mistakes managers make today is having unrealistic expectations of their sales performers and how they should sell. Let’s face it, a lot of leaders were promoted to sales management because they were great salespeople. As such, new sales managers risk expecting everyone to sell like they did and applying a one-size-fits-all management approach.
Enter sales development assessments. The Omnia assessment presents the strengths and qualities of your sales team, uncovers if you’ve got the right people in the right seats, and builds insight on how best to coach and motivate everyone based on their unique traits.
For example, your column 4 reserved, pragmatic salesperson may not naturally persuade prospects by instilling excitement about your insurance products. His approach will work more successfully if you free him up to use his strength in translating facts and data to give prospects logical, inarguable reasons to purchase. This person is motivated by coaching steeped in product knowledge and should serve as a strategic resource to the decision-maker. This is not the person who is going to enjoy making outbound calls all day or going to a networking event 3 times a week, and they can be successful not doing so.
Similarly, your selling CSRs are excellent at service but may not thrive with quotas and are likely uncomfortable transitioning conversations to uncover additional customer needs. But, you never really know until you assess and observe. That takes one-on-one coaching observation so you can uncover the root problem and address it straight on. Encouraging a CSR to sell, a hunter to manage a large book of accounts, or a farmer to go after a high volume of new business could be a futile effort. Know what you need, know what you have, set a course to correct where needed, and then coach and develop every step of the way.
Sometimes swords do get dull, gladiators do need coaching in the arena, and stuff gets in the way of gladiators being able to battle. A good sales leader identifies these times by observing, listening, knowing who to listen to, and deciding the right time to intervene.
While BK protected us from needless interruption about sword patterns and processes, I also appreciated another leader, Joe, who was consistently in tune with the needs of the sales team and knew how to prioritize what needed fixing. He taught me an important concept about the informal leaders on a sales team. Joe believed and proved to me that every sales team (and all teams for that matter) have one or two informal leaders on it. These are the trusted team members who have the respect of the company and their peers. They are customer focused, emotionally mature, and have the skills of diplomacy to raise tough issues while always bringing a solution to the conversation. These are not your fire starters or pot stirrers. These are the people who will help you lead from the front and have their finger on the pulse of the critical things that can get in the way of sales success.
Sales leadership success requires skills in strategic thinking, conflict resolution, problem-solving, and strong communication. The best leaders know when to get involved and when not to. How you address challenges and pick your battles requires mental toughness, big-picture thinking, and the ability to keep your head above the noise. Knowing when to jump in to help a salesperson with a tough negotiation, or how to support and encourage a new salesperson on their first few attempts, rather than schooling or critiquing them immediately takes thoughtful balance.
Leading a sales team to achieve success consistently takes discipline and a commitment to using all these approaches to get the most of your team, while being willing to learn from your mistakes and keep moving onward. I say this from experience, and a few recent battle scars of my own. The path to leading a successful team year in and year out begins with self-reflection - in knowing yourself and where your strengths lie.
If you’d like to know more about your own leadership traits, and reflect on your own path, please contact us to get a complimentary personalized leadership style report and debrief.
Since the very first business of starting cave fires in exchange for furs and hides, the transition from sales to service has plagued organizations. The early people had it right. Grog, the fire starter, sold the sticks and built the fire. His invoice was a grunt and a snort, and Accounts Receivable was immediately funded with a bundle of wheat. But, when it came time to stoke the flames, where was he? He needed a customer service team. Someone to tend to the fire, and when it got lower, build it back up with upselling opportunities. Grog’s 12-stick fire could have quickly become a bonfire capable of smoke signal advertising. “World’s Largest Cave Drawings, Next Exit!”
Picture it, if you will. Your customer team is fielding customer requests, providing that excellent service your clients have come to know and love. Throughout each and every day, some of your clients are dropping hints left and right about their expanding needs and how just one small added service could drastically change their operations. Other customers are being vague, they are shielding their true needs behind what they think your customer service team can offer. After all, the sales process can sometimes be an arduous one. They may not want to go through that whole process again.
You need your front-line service team to not only recognize both scenarios as opportunities but also act on those opportunities, to either capitalize on them or send them to the people who can.
Customer service team members have a big role in your organization. They must deal with challenging situations with absolute confidence while still maintaining proper communications and fostering relationship growth. They must command respect while always showing it to others. But the best customer service team members are ones that are trained in the art of sales. Just like the situations above, customer service representatives that can ease the customer burden (and the sales team’s reselling and upselling burden) excel in their positions and streamline company operations.
How can you identify the inner salesperson in your customer service team? Shameless plug: give them the Omnia Assessment and discover key traits that may lead to the discovery of great sales skills.
The perfect customer service relationship consists of three main aspects that allow the growth of service to clients: organization, communication, and passion. These three, working together, build stronger relationships and lead to the trust needed in upselling opportunities.
Using the Omnia behavioral assessment, customer service team leaders can identify ways to develop their talent’s sales skills. Omnia’s user-friendly 8-column bar graph shows leaders exactly what traits a CSR has so they can tailor their coaching sessions to each rep’s specific needs. Even better, sessions can tap into the rep’s learning style and motivators. One size does not fit all!
Most successful salespeople have a strong column 1 in their Omnia results. This shows them to be naturally assertive. Individuals with a tall column 1 are driven, competitive, and goal-oriented, perfect for sales. With quotas to meet, they are going to do whatever it takes to close deals. However, most service personalities are the opposite, a tall column 2, which means they are naturally supportive, cautious, and eager to help. It makes sense that they are the people who can assist your clients, solve problems, make account changes, and answer questions. It’s a perfect fit. But with that, comes a reluctance to sell. Let’s face it, if they wanted to sell, they would be in sales. Coaching a customer service representative to sell means shifting your definition of selling. It’s important for them to position additional products or services in a way that does not make them feel like they are demanding or pushy. They need to see it as a service, a concrete way to improve the life or business of their customer.
Additionally, salespeople tend to be energized by social interaction, as characterized by a column 3 on the Omnia Assessment. Give them a zoom meeting or a microphone and watch out! Those with a taller column 4 tend to be more reserved. While you want your customer service team to be diplomatic and friendly (no one likes a grump on a service call), column 4 analytics are often better listeners, needs assessors, and problem solvers. They tend to be factual, direct communicators, so coaching on social awareness and rapport building will go a long way towards helping that service rep connect with the customer and thereby make it a little easier to make product suggestions.
Encourage your analytical CSRs to take the first bits of their service interactions to build personal connections with their clients. Doing so builds rapport and trust. If your client knows you care, they are more likely to care about their relationship with your organization.
Both. Definitely both. In looking at the third personality dimension, pace, people with an Omnia column 5 are fast-paced. “Call now!” “Book today!” Everything is urgent. The sale must close, the deadline is always approaching. Ever noticed how salespeople always ask for dates in the decision process? They are time-driven. Conversely, those with an Omnia column 6 are more systematically inclined. “What’s the process?” “How do we move from point A to point B?” Your CSR team is most likely more systematic. CSRs love processes and procedures. So, train your CSRs to act with some urgency when it comes to upselling opportunities. If they hear an opportunity to sell, put a timeline in place at the first start. Train to ask the question, “And when are you looking to make a decision on this?” That helps set the pace while remaining procedural.
Lastly, the final personality dimension is linked to rules and guidelines. Salespeople are comfortable with ambiguity and like more leeway in how they handle sales. While it is important they maintain some sort of respect for the rules of the organization, they are often weaving around and through the rules to try to close the deal. Therefore, salespeople are often an Omnia column 7, where most customer service team members are, you guessed it, the exact opposite with an Omnia column 8. They have a greater reliance on the rules and guidelines. Rules provide comfort and increase confidence in column 8 personalities, plus it’s why your service team is detailed and accurate, which we can all agree is pretty important in service. Especially since the sales team has little to no time to pay attention to the details! Still, empower your CSRs to be a bit bolder when faced with decisions. They will want to take action within the rules, of course, but coaching them to ask questions that might open new opportunities, both with customers and within their respective organizations, is a win for everyone.
Using the Omnia Assessment for coaching your customer service team is an easy investment in the growth of your organization from the inside out. Learn your team’s Omnia personality numbers and use these coaching techniques to make sales interactions just a bit more comfortable for your fire-stokers. Grog is counting on them!
Approach any group of sales leaders and this debate is likely to come up in their sales strategy conversation: Which is the better sales-type — Hunter or Farmer? And can a person be both? Most often, there are true distinctions and objectives for each role. And there are nuances in terms of the personality traits that are similar and different between them. Both personalities have definite strengths, and just like anything else, they both also come with some challenges. Many people feel that the Hunter is the most lucrative sales persona, but is that truly the case? In reality, both are valuable for different reasons. The key is determining which sales type you need for the various functions of your business so you can keep them inspired and successful.
Hunters are ambitious, challenge-driven go-getters. They are competitors who strive to beat their own (and everyone else’s) record because of their innate need to achieve. At the risk of sounding like Captain Kirk, Hunters like to boldly go where no one has gone before (emphasis on boldly.) Taking a prospect who has never even heard of your company — or, better yet, one who is not at all interested in doing business with you — and transforming them into a client is exhilarating to them.
In terms of the Omnia assessment, Hunters often have extremely tall columns 1-3-5-7 – assertive, social, fast-paced, decisive, and independent. This means they are focused on the win and proactive enough to make it happen. Hunters are outgoing communicators who enjoy initiating contact with new leads, adaptable multitaskers who want to secure deals quickly, and self-directed decision-makers who focus on closing sales.
Farmers are also goal focused and enjoy taking on new challenges, but rather than seeking out new sales, they are often most effective at working with existing customers to retain and grow their business with your organization. Farmers want to see your customers succeed, which will help your company succeed too. They proactively investigate and inquire about your customers’ needs and readily recommend the specific product or service that can thoroughly meet those needs. Farmers often position themselves as subject matter experts who provide informative, consultative guidance to your customers. Clients may view them as knowledgeable, trusted points of contact for your organization.
Omnia assessment graphs for Farmers often show a moderately tall column 1, equal columns 3 and 4 or a tall column 4, tall column 5, and a moderately tall column 7 or equal columns 7 and 8 — goal-oriented, professionally personable, adaptable, and self-directed within the parameters of the position. Farmers are ambitious yet willing to work with others to reach desired objectives. They are more concise in their speaking style, time-sensitive for responding to customers’ requests, and they make decisions using company protocols and industry best practices to guide them.
At first glance, it might appear that the Hunter is the most valuable personality for many sales positions because they can forge new paths and seemingly make sales materialize out of thin air. It’s true that Hunters make a huge direct impact on a company’s bottom line. The new clients that Hunters bring in equal more revenue coming into your organization. Hunters can show impressive dollar signs on a sales leaderboard, making it easy to visualize exactly how they help grow the company.
Farmers also make strong positive contributions to an organization, even if those contributions aren’t as splashy or easy to quantify. Farmers have the tenacity to ensure that your customers stay loyal to your brand rather than seeing if the grass is greener with your competitors. They have the initiative to seek out areas where they can grow accounts as well as determine how to make your company’s products and services such an integral part of a customer’s business that they wouldn’t dream of leaving. It’s hard to fully quantify the impact that customers who stop doing business with your organization would have, but the effects are felt significantly, which shows just how vital Farmers are.
First, we need to reframe the question. Rather than asking Hunter OR Farmer, let’s look at sales from the perspective of Hunter AND Farmer. Working together, Hunters and Farmers can have great synergy, with one sales type bringing in their strengths to mitigate the other’s weaknesses and vice versa.
Hunters are invigorated by drawing in new customers, and they are inspired by closing deals. However, they aren’t often interested in managing the account after the close; they have already targeted their sights on the next prospect. Conversely, Farmers typically don’t want to turn a cold call into a buying customer, but they can ensure a current customer stays with your company by adding value and managing the account after the customer has e-signed on the virtual dotted line.
Both Hunters and Farmers bring value to an organization, but they require different management approaches, incentives, and job functions to reach optimal capacity. A client recently asked The Omnia Group to assess their sales team to determine who were Hunters and who were Farmers, understanding that each group is uniquely motivated and needs different things from the job and management to thrive.
Hunters work best in a sales position that allows them to shine and prove themselves through their individual successes. They want to be out in front, meeting with prospects, and having the chance to reach ambitious targets. Earning commissions based on their performance is motivating to Hunters, as is participating in sales contests and earning public accolades and awards. They want to work in a rapidly paced environment and favor handling multiple sales at once; they need a quick sales cycle so they can experience a frequent sense of achievement. Hunters also need ample freedom to determine how to handle each situation as it arises. They do not like feeling confined by strict processes that leave no room for interpretation.
Farmers often have similar needs and wants, though in a more tempered way. They enjoy working toward enterprising objectives and proving themselves, but they understand how managing client accounts can move them toward those objectives. Rather than straight commissions, they may want to earn bonuses or a combination of salary and commissions. Farmers can be inspired by opportunities to continually increase their expertise so they can offer insightful recommendations to customers. They also appreciate recognition for their contributions. Like Hunters, Farmers enjoy working in a bustling atmosphere where they can feel ongoing progress and work on several tasks at once. They can also work autonomously, though they are most confident when they have some structure around their role.
Whether you’re looking to hire Hunters or Farmers or identify them on your existing team, Omnia is here to help. It begins with assessing the key sales personality traits. Omnia’s personality assessment is quick, easy, and accurate. Our selection reports allow you to compare candidates against a Hunter and Farmer profile to make sure you’re hiring for the right job fit. Our sales style reports are ideal for identifying the Hunter and Farmer traits on your current sales team. You can fine-tune your coaching and development strategies specific to each individual and your company objectives.
Using the Omnia Assessment will unlock the answers you need to find, select, and manage great salespeople of all types. Contact us to get started.
Co-authored by Alaina Sims and Keather Snyder.