A Hunter! A Hunter! My Kingdom For A Hunter! (With Apologies To William Shakespeare Richard 111)
When I started my life in Sales Recruiting I had just spent over 20 years in various Sales Management roles in the Telecommunications Industry. My specific area of expertise was fixing broken or building new sales teams.
The Telecom sector in the 90’s was very competitive, deregulation had been introduced for Long Distance and Data services and even local access was open to competition. There was host of new entrants into the marketplace all providing the same type of service offerings and very similar prices.
In short it was a gunfight. And nowhere was the competition more intense than in the mid-market. Sales cycles were 90 days and success was based on the competence and aggressiveness of the sales team In short you needed to be a Sales Hunter to survive. This is where I lived and worked for over a decade.
So when I started recruiting and a client told me that they needed a Hunter and only a Hunter I knew what they wanted. Or so I thought!
On my first assignment looking for a sales hunter for a client I was very excited I had found 4 candidates that I knew were hunters and sent them all to meet the client. Imagine my disappointment when at a debriefing after the interviews I was told that none of the candidates were acceptable.
Why? I asked. After some hemming and hawing, and a battle with political correctness, the client said;
Well they all were just too aggressive; they seemed pushy, arrogant and sometimes almost abrasive. We just couldn’t have someone like that working for us.
I realized that the client had never worked with real sales hunters. Managing a team of sales hunters in not a task for the faint of heart. The very things that make them successful sales hunters make them a nightmare to manage. They are aggressive, they are driven, they have egos, they are tenacious and they have no problem stating their opinion on any matter. Often they view the company’s internal departments as lesser beings and treat them accordingly. They create any number of problems and internal issues for their sales managers that are unique to the sales hunter.
At this point I should add a disclaimer: I am writing from my experience and I am sure that there are many, many successful sales hunters with the personality of Mother Teresa and I am sure that there are sales hunters with the diplomatic skills of Henry Kissinger. It is just in my experience I haven’t met these people. I am only relating my experience with sales hunters.
I realized that I had not really qualified my client when he told me he was looking for a hunter. I assumed that I understood what a hunter was. A Hunter has a different meaning to different clients. Although many companies say they want a sales hunter often that is not totally true. What they want is someone who is NOT a paper pusher, someone who does NOT spend all day in the office, someone who is not afraid to develop new accounts. While these are all part of a true hunters’ makeup, a hunter is much much more than this.
The lesson I learned is that while companies may cry out that they want a hunter and only a hunter you need to make very sure you understand what they really want and need. That is the value a professional sales recruiter can bring. They get to understand the client and make sure that they deliver to the client what they really wants.