Banish Farmers And Farming!!


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No, I’m not making a political statement about our agricultural sector. Farmers and farming are what brings food to all of us.

Possibly one of the most destructive concepts ever introduced into sales is the concept of hunters and farmers. It establishes a go to market strategy that, according to research, doesn’t really work, and absolves sales people of the responsibility for prospecting and constantly looking for new business.

Let’s dive in deeper.

I’m not sure how the concept of hunters and farmers ever arose, but the notion is hunters go out and find new business. They find new accounts, new logos. They are constantly prospecting, looking for those new opportunities to grow the business.

By contrast, the notion of farmers, I suppose was to nurture and maintain. They are assigned to current customers. Their focus is on retention and growth ( I guess that makes sense, real farmers grow things.) Somehow, farmers don’t feel they have the responsibility for prospecting–at least the aggressive new business acquisition that hunters focus on. Too often, the mentality is focused on protecting the current base on the accounts–perhaps maintaining the status quo.

But farmers become part of our customers problem–not a solution, not value creators. Maintaining the status quo is not what caused customers to buy from us in the first place, it’s not what creates value for our customers today.

Our customer originally bought because we helped them change, we helped them solve problems and address new opportunities. We created value in helping them successfully do new things. This need doesn’t diminish after we have sold them a solution. They have problems and opportunities in other areas. Markets change, methods change, problems change and evolve. Our customers need help in understanding these, developing and addressing solutions that help them address these.

Yet, farmers, are too often not interested in this, their primary mission is to protect and grow. But they default to protecting–whenever anything might threaten the base business. They end up defending the status quo and not helping the customer.

But customers have ways of addressing this. There are sales people, for whom our accounts become hunting accounts. These sales people are talking to our customers, helping them think differently, helping them change, helping them solve new problems, helping them change the status quo.

This is crazy–and our customers get it–but too many sales organizations don’t! The farmer concept is not helpful to our customers, it is not helpful in growing our relationships and revenue from our customers, it doesn’t create value for our customers, it doesn’t help our business.

Research supports this. It shows the fallacy in our thinking around account growth. It shows the focus on maintaining customer satisfaction doesn’t drive growth, expansion and new opportunities.

Dugghhh, we would expect this, when we think back to why customer bought in the first place (yeah, I know I’m repeating myself, but this is an important concept.) They bought because we helped them innovate and change. But somehow, we transform that into protect and don’t change, which is not what creates value.

Banish the concept of farming in sales! It’s not helpful to our customers, it’s certainly not helpful to our own businesses!

Everybody hunts, all the time!

Whether it’s finding new logos or new customers; or expanding our business and value to our current customers.

Everybody in sales job is to find opportunities for customers and prospects to improve, to change, to grow. We must move beyond our current “install base,” finding new customers and opportunities within our current accounts.

Everyone must constantly be prospecting!

The best way to protect and retain accounts is to constantly create new value and help them change, grow and improve.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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