Since the B2B sales profession has been around, there have more or less been two sales personas: hunter and farmer. The hunter pursues the big game. They’re the “Type A” personalities. Let me do my thing, get out of my way, and I’ll bring you a handful of trophy wins. Then there’s the farmer: personable, relationship-focused. The farmer is all about nurturing. They thrive on the collaborative approach. The farmer is inclined to mine opportunities from within existing accounts, upselling and cross-selling throughout.
The perfect sales professional can do both but we’ve learned that profile doesn’t really exist.
Here’s the thing though: a number of forces, namely sales technology and the impending rise of account-based selling, have powered the convergence of the hunter and the farmer. The result? The fisherman sales persona.
The fisherman sales persona is the future of B2B sales, especially for sales teams embracing account-based selling. Here’s a high-level rundown on their key traits…
A Targeted Approach
Whereas a farmer cultivates crops over time and a hunter pursues a small number of big game over the same amount of time, a fisherman/woman takes more of an intelligent, targeted approach. They spend time figuring out where to look for the right opportunities and then they strike with the right stuff at the right time. A hunter might spend a considerable amount of time lining up only a small number of targets. And a farmer values smaller wins from an existing, known pool. But a fisherman is all about fluidity. They’re thinking about the right type of bait for the right type of fish at the right time of the day. Translated to sales: it’s about delivering the right value to the right prospect precisely when they need it. Easier said than done? Of course. But that’s where today’s sales technologies (not so subtle hint: Smart Rooms) come in to play.
Digital comfort and digital savviness are perhaps the most important traits of the B2B sales fisherman/woman—and for good reason. Today’s successful B2B marketers have proven this. In what feels like a blink of an eye, B2B marketing has gone from analog to full-on digital thanks much in part to the rapid evolution of the marketer’s tool kit. (Think: Google Analytics, email marketing data and reporting, social metrics, retargeting, etc.) The migration from analog to digital is happening in sales, albeit a bit behind marketing. But all that means is that there’s nothing but opportunity out there. The fisherman sales persona that’s digitally enabled is primed for success.
But Relationships Still Matter
Marketing has seen this and sales will as well, perhaps even more so. Marketing and sales technologies are fantastic things that help organizations engage more prospects and win more customers. That is 100 percent true. But these technologies aren’t here to replace what is still so important to closing deals: relationships, trust, human connection. Yes, that sounds like a naive thing to say these days, but when a buyer is perhaps staking their job, reputation (and not to mention probably a pretty penny) on a deal, they almost universally want another living, breathing human on the other side of the table. Fishermen/women get that. They know that relationship development is just as important as the lure. They know that digital technologies actually help build stronger relationships—and more of them. That in itself is the ultimate promise of account-based selling.