Hunters Not Encouraged

If you are looking for sales hunters, the 80’s is on the (rotary) phone and they want their sales term back.

When I hear the phrase “sales hunter”, I picture Gordan Gekko from Wall Street, trying to figure out ways of making a buck regardless of the collateral damages he leaves behind.  Hunters are not only pre-Covid, they are pre 21st century. 

In addition to the changes that Covid19 has forced, there has also been something of a digital revolution taking place for the past 5, or 10 or 20 years and  successful organizations have seen how the roles of sales and marketers need to evolve, continually.

Way back in 2013, the Harvard Business Review shared some research by Halvorson and Higgins  where they updated the hunter and farmer labels and presented the Promotion vs. Prevention focused seller.  Promotion focused meant they had a desire to achieve a result.  Prevention focused meant they wanted to avoid a loss.  As you can imagine, there are some pretty strong pros and cons to each.  Halvorson and Higgins outline is below:

Promotion focus: Pros

  • work quickly
  • creative – great at brainstorming
  • open to new opportunities and ideas
  • optimistic
  • willing to take risks

Promotion focus: Cons

  • lose steam without positive feedback
  • make more mistakes
  • unprepared when things go wrong

Prevention focus: Pros

  • work deliberately and carefully
  • tend to be more accurate
  • prepared for the worst
  • excellent analytical and problem-solving skills

Prevention focus: Cons

  • risk-averse
  • work slowly
  • stressed by tight deadlines
  • stick to tried-and-true methods – try to maintain status quo

One of the most useful insights from this research was that salespeople who could switch between a promotion focus and a prevention focus based on the selling context generated the most revenue. 

That shouldn’t be a big surprise – adaptability has always been a key to success so of course, a seller who could become outcome focused when required but also loss preventive when circumstances call for it makes perfect sense. 

Fast forward to 2020, and the landscape has changed even further.  Advancement in digital research and automation has even blurred the lines between marketers and sellers. 

For example, how helpful would it be to have contact information delivered to a South Florida salesperson  about a potential client who, right now, in real time, is searching on their website, for the fall of 2021?  The potential client is in the very early stages, and their search has just begun. 

This technology exists, and it really isn’t very expensive.  And there are other applications that have advanced sales and marketing capabilities out there just waiting to be implemented.

However, market research has shown, the LAST thing that this client wants at this point is to talk to a salesperson.  A hunter OR a farmer.  They would however be willing, and even keen, to talk to a trusted advisor. 

They don’t want to talk to a hunter because they are not ready yet to buy, and those hunters tend to be a bit pushy and not so trustworthy.  Trust is hyper critical right now.  And honestly, they don’t want to talk to a farmer either because they don’t have the time.  They can get pretty good information on their own, online so that is generally the option they choose.

They will however happily make time for someone to give them some insights or advice about any pitfalls of South Florida meeting planning in the fall.  Someone who is an expert and is willing to share their insights, quickly, without a sales pitch, is more than welcome.  In fact, not only will they talk to this person, they will invite this person in to present to their whole buying committee because that will save them time, and make them look good.  Everybody wins.

Bottom line, both organizations and individual sales and marketing professionals must evolve.  They need to think differently and honestly, they need to learn some new skills.

Technology isn’t the answer to everything, but it surely can help.  Being a flexible seller who is willing to learn some martech (marketing technology), and be willing and capable of shifting gears from promotional to preventative sounds like a tall order, but if anyone is up for it, I believe it is hoteliers. 

We rarely have the same day twice, we have had to learn to be flexible.  So look forward, embrace some new technology, and start positioning you and your organization for the 21st century before it’s over!

To find out more about that technology to help you track down clients searching – email Cory Falter at

To find out about 12 other martech and sales tech approaches that can help sellers adapt and close more sales, check out my Influencer Digital Sales bootcamp here –

Have you seen our online courses?

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