I have often heard the saying, “Trying to manage Salespeople is like trying to herd a bunch of cats.” That phrase always made me laugh because it’s really true. I have managed many Sales People in my time and they are the hardest to manage because of their independent spirits, curious nature…or so I thought.
There is one more item that is a relevant fact that you might want to consider. Sales is the most common field in the corporate world where we find the highest percentage of people with ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder). We call our deficit disorder SADD (Sales Agent Deficit Disorder). About 80% of Sales People are considered to have some sort of degree of SADD. Wow, that’s too big of a number to ignore! Now some may have the traits more or less than others but if such a high percentage of Sales People have this disorder then as a Sales Manager it might be a good thing to study how to better manage someone with SADD or not manage them whichever may be the case.
Here are some of the symptoms of a person with ADHD or SADD
Disorganization, problem with focusing, procrastination, taking on too many projects before finishing others projects, a constant desire for high stimulation and a low threshold for boredom, impatience, impulsiveness, interrupting, problem focusing on one thing and a feeling of not living up to potential. There is also a strong dislike of established channels, routine and being micro-managed.
Now many people will read this and say, “I have those symptoms, I must be SADD” and that very well may be, but again there are varied levels of this disorder. People with SADD are naturally drawn to sales because there is always something new with ample challenge and risk. Sales requires intrinsic motivation and a lot of moving around. To a large extent they can control their own time and find prey, therefore it’s a hunt!
In the world of ADHD the people who have SADD are referred to as “Hunters”, because they are the ones who bring the kill home to the tribe for distribution. The “Hunters” constantly scan the environment, they must be able to juggle multiple things at once, they aren’t afraid of taking risks, they can to switch from one prey to another better prey quickly and they are always aware of other predators in their area. Does this sound like a Sales person to you?
The people in the tribe are referred to as the “Farmers”; they are the people who do the routine or tedious work. The Farmer is patient as the crops grow and makes sure to plan what he is cultivating, plant, till and water his fields. He pulls weeds and tends to these crops for months with much patience and care. A Farmer is much like a business owner, manager or office worker.
Here are three challenges about people with SADD and possible Manager Solutions to optimize the trait;
Challenge: One of the traits a person with ADHD or SADD is that these people don’t do well is follow up. They like moving forward on to something else and follow up is too routine. Which would cement the reason why so many Builders get frustrated when their Sales People don’t follow up? Another fact is that you should not put two ADHD or SADD people together or you will have a frenzied disaster and possibly two people who won’t follow up
Solution: Most companies are now finding that a Hunter/Farmer team is the most effective way to sell products and provide service. The Hunter is responsible for the sale, doing the presentation, client contact (The Kill). The Farmer organizes the lists of people to cold call, follow up, writes the follow up letters, sets up subsequent appointments and forges the long term relationship with the customer (The Routine). With this combination you may be able to have a “smart” team. It is a proven fact that people with SADD work best when they are teamed with a farmer.
Challenge: People with SADD hate weekly meetings; get bored, act out, not participate or they may choose not show up at all!
Solution: The meetings must have a goal, an agenda, summarize in writing and have plenty of interactive skills to keep things moving along and keep it interesting with role play and interaction from team members. Include the Hunters in answering questions and calling on them to keep their attention in the moment. Try to make the meetings within an hour and change subjects and activities every fifteen minutes.
Challenge: The Hunter is an outstanding Sales Person, so next step, promote them to Sales Manager.
Solution: Most of the time true hunters don’t make good Sales Managers. Managers are more of a Farmer role and you could be taking a great Hunter out of his element where he most likely won’t succeed. A better thing to do is give them a promotion or title like Vice President or Senior Sales Associate or a stimulated bonus for goals achieved but by all means keep them on the sales floor that is what they are born to do. There are very few great Hunters in the world, they are not easily replaceable, hard to find and will be sorely missed in your sales numbers.
The last thing I will share with you is that coaching is proven to be one of the best devices for managing Hunters. Understanding and coaching your Sales Hunters and teaming them with the right farmers should provide you with win-win sales teams and should make all the difference in your sales numbers and morale of your team.
Happy Sales and Happy Hunting!