Please look at this picture for 3 seconds:
How it makes you feel? Probably you feel nothing.
Look at the next one:
Do you feel better now? I bet you do.
Now, let’s imagine this is the person who serves you at a restaurant, a bar, your airline stewardess, your taxi driver, the person who sells the newspaper around the corner to you. Let’s stick to a restaurant as an example.
There are two restaurants:
- Restaurant #1 where person in picture #1 serves you
- Restaurant #2 where person in picture #2 serves you.
If you can get a similar food experience at any of both restaurants, which one would you choose to come back for a dinner next time?
Easy. And that’s what we do on a daily basis when we make choices about buying products or services.
Not everyone can deal with customers or prospects
There are many theories about the different types of personalities that a human being can have. I am not a psychologist, so I won’t try to explain you the details, but I like this model to summarise those in several segments.
Basically, being extrovert, inspiration driven and people focused are skills that are difficult to learn. You either have them or not, and those are the ones you should look at when hiring someone to sell or take care of your customers.
After that, you can focus on training the on other skills that they can learn, like get better at forecasting, more organised, plan better before contacting customers, get commitment from customers at every meeting or call they have, etc.
Please don’t call them “Hunters”
Are you still posting vacancies to hire “real hunters”? Really? I think you may need to wake up and revisit your customer strategy. Wait a minute, if you are doing that, you probably don’t have one. Actually, you are most likely to have your own company strategy only. And that’s where everything starts to be wrong.
Your customers aren’t animals that need to be hunted. If you have this perception, then please stop reading and go back to 1996.
Your customers are partners. Someone who invest their money in what you offer because they believe you provide value to them. They are the key element on your product development strategy to improve your product or service and therefore, your business. They are the best source of honest feedback you can get because they are the ones paying for your solution.
Hiring customer first sales people
In more than 15 years working in sales, from selling encyclopedias to SaaS solutions I have seen almost everything, believe me:
- I worked with people who lied to customers.
- I worked with people who took advantage of customers.
- I worked with people who even stole money from customers.
You know what, that’s the reputation sales people have in many countries still today, thanks to what? The way we hire. And our sometimes not realistic view of what we should get from our customers.
It is good to hire competitive, ambitious people, but if that’s their number one skill, that will damage your business. Maybe not in the short term, I believe some of them will be your Top Performers for a while and they will make you feel proud. Aggressive sales people who overachieve targets and do everything to make sure they do that.
Eventually they leave the company or get fired because you uncovered one of the things mentioned above, you realised that their customer base is damaged and it takes you a long time to recover from that, if you can do it at all.
Customer first people are a sustainable, long term revenue stream for your business. They may not give you the same level of results in the short term, but they will take care of your customer base, expand it, get feedback to improve your products and even referrals to additional potential customers.
When you build a sales or customer success team, look at personality first. See how service oriented they are, if they are team players, if they can also contribute to build a great company culture, and you will have a good chance to build a great business.
Hopefully you don’t get to feel like the girl below after hiring and/or firing a hunter:
Pictures source: Laura Zalenga