The reason why Sales People don’t like follow up!

September 28, 2009 by Shirleen Von Hoffmann Leave a reply »

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.42-15660112

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!

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5 Responses

  1. Brad Verteegh says:

    Cassie Nail
    General Manager at American Fireplaces
    Thank you for the “Hunter/Farmer” analogy. I have two sales people that I never thought of pairing with my hunter type in the office. Thanks again!
    Posted 28 days ago | Reply Privately
    Christina Roberts
    Education Administrator at Builders Association of Western Nevada
    This is great. My sales manager really wanted me to be a Hunter, and now I know I was the farmer! If I ever get back into sales this is good to remember. I did sell homes, but without the glitz of the Hunter! I ended up being the nurturer and organizer etc.
    Leonora (Leo) Clancy
    New Home Sales and Marketing Professional
    Great analogy. Rather like the Hunter/Gatherer (men/women) scenario in personal relationships. I have managed hundreds of sales persons over the years, and have always found this to be true! They perform best when set up in the type of team you mention, with both becoming more productive and happy in their work.
    Craig Fairbanks
    President at Heritage Hills Development Corporation
    I never thought of the ADHD connection but it is really true. That is why my closing rate and contract rate goes down when i don’t have that assistant help. I need a consistent organizer to make all those mundane tasks happen that are so important in reaching people consistently.
    Good Article
    Edward Lott CSP, GRI
    VP – Sales and Marketing at Payne Family Homes
    Well written and valuable piece. In a challenging market we need Farmers on our teams more than ever to keep our Hunters focused and stimulated at the neighborhood level to connect with customers and stakeholders that are both fearful across the plat map and impatient in the main office. It’s the Sales Manager’s job to influence, motivate, enable, coach and give insightful feedback to them both. Amazing what social events, a surprise breakfast and activity based incentives such as gift certificates for shoes can do to motivate and improve performance! Keep the Sales Meetings under an hour and they will love you!
    Patience is key!
    Brad Versteegh
    COO, GM at Daylight Capital
    Great article. I admire your insight and appropriate perspective. I have managed sales teams for homebuilders for years. Unfortunately, I finally gave up. I was always recruited to come in and fix a deficiency they were having and found myself struggling with the executives who hired me. I never failed to accomplish my goals, but they fought me on every decision. They didn’t want me to change anything they were doing. (definition of insanity)
    When I was in sales, in the field, I actually had to “ignore” my management and just do what I needed to do. I affectionately referred to the management team as the “sales prevention department”. This was prior to the advent of the huge “incentives”. I had 78 customers currently on my backlog report with homes under construction, when my manager showed up in my neighborhood and gave me my first “incentive” sheet. Over night, they wanted me to start offering $35,000 discounts to all new customers. I informed him that he needed to be prepared for the loss rate of upset customers when they began to discover these discounts. I asked if these “dollars” could be used “as needed” to make deals happen? He said, “No. Every penny is to be used on every sale.” I even asked him to divert these funds to other neighborhoods that were failing to hit objectives, because I didn’t need these incentives to sell homes. Again, I was denied. So, I got creative, gave HUGE incentives to build new realtor relationships and nearly got fired for saving the company over $20,000 per sale by not using these incentives to drive down the values in my neighborhood.
    The first couple of months were very tentative. However, I soon took three failing neighborhoods with a total of 67+ completed homes on the ground (most of which had already had their first birthday), into a gap out situation (ran out of developed lots) with an average of 17 homes per month closing using no incentive money. By that point , management finally figured out it was smarter to just leave me alone and let me do what I do, then to fight me all day.
    In relation to your Hunter/Farmer teams. I tried to do this as a sales manager and suggested it as a sales person. However, during my tenure in the homebuilding industry, this was taboo. It was the practice to put two hunters in the same office and let them battle it out. As for the customer…who cares. Where the insanity of this came in, was that sales compensation was partially based upon customer service scores. This is a tough requirement for a true hunter.
    I still to this day do not understand why management must make blanket decisions that make no sense in localized situations.
    I apologize for the lack of preparation in this response and for the ramblings. But this has always been a sore spot for me in that I feel there is far too much ignorance in how homebuilders “do business”. This, I feel, is the main reason why so many are closing doors and or consolidating to survive.
    Thank you all for allowing me to rant….
    Craig Fairbanks
    President at Heritage Hills Development Corporation
    I am a Realtor Builder of over 30 years and have been trying to get agents to think of us when they run into customers who are looking to build. What kind of incentive (huge) did you use to get attention of the Realtors. I currently do not have a sales force other than myself and wondered if it was better to bring in a quality sales agent to work on agents or build the sales department in house. sounds like you might have an answer to my questions or at least some incite.
    Brad Versteegh
    COO, GM at Daylight Capital

  2. Brenda Reuter says:

    Brenda Reuter
    Roll Off/Special Waste Sales Mgn at Athens Services

    Absolutely true. Our company has just gone to the Hunter/Farmer team selling and is working out very well.

    Thanks for this article.

  3. Carolyn Edlund says:

    Carolyn Edlund
    Marketing and Sales Manager

    Great post and very true!

  4. Brenda,

    You are welcome.

  5. I will right away grab your rss as I can not find your e-mail subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Please let me know so that I could subscribe. Thanks.

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