How to Recognize the Hunter Salesperson

By Robert Post CEO, Knowland | November 10, 2019
In a recent article “The Hunter Group Salesperson: Endangered Species or Already Extinct? ” we identified three types of salespeople, the Hunter, Order-Taker and Farmer. In this article, we take that concept a bit further to identify the DNA of the Hunter salesperson and offer ways to help you recognize them – in the wild or in captivity.
Arming your teams with a healthy mix of the different types of salespeople will set your hotel up well. Within this mix, we like to see a good number of Hunters within each hotel group sales team because this type of salesperson has both the natural instincts and trainable qualities that we find best aligns with proactively selling group. In any economic environment, a Hunter will systematically source and book “best-fit” group business for your property helping you to ride out storms and outperform your competition.
So how do you find these Hunters? It can often be one of the hardest parts of running a sales team if you don’t know what to look for. Our first instinct in hiring is to look at the resume. How many years of experience do they have? Has the person worked at the same caliber hotels? However, limiting yourself to the resume only might mean you overlook a better candidate. Almost without exception, Hunter sales DNA trumps the resume.
Additionally, we think we can train someone to be a Hunter. And while many elements of being a good salesperson are teachable, there are basic characteristics of Hunters that can’t be taught – they are an intrinsic part of the DNA of that person.
So, when you are sitting across the table from a sales candidate, what are the go-getter traits you should look for in the hiring process? And, more importantly, how do you determine if that person possesses them?
The DNA of Good Hunters
There are certain personality traits every truly great Hunter salesperson possesses. These traits lead them, and your property, to success, often where others fail. Among these traits are:
• Fire in the Belly – Hunters wake each day with an inherent desire to succeed. Set a goal for them and they will not only meet it but set for themselves an internal goal that’s even higher. These individuals don’t settle for average and firmly believe “Good is the Enemy of Great.”
• Create Value AND Demand – Hunters know they don’t simply fulfill demand; they go out and create demand. They are skilled communicators who can vividly present the value of their product and how it will solve the “pain points” of their customers.
• Control the Sales Process – Hunters know the value of controlling the conversation. They set expectations at every step of the sales process to drive to the outcome they want. They don’t allow themselves to get taken off track but, rather, guide the customer around their internal processes to get to the end.
• Crave the Word No – Hunters understand that a “no” from a prospect is just the beginning of the process. They know it simply means they need to adjust. They learn from each “no” and come back stronger for it.
• Evolve Constantly – Hunters understand what worked on the last call with a prospect might not work on the next one. They cater each proactive sales call to the needs of that customer. They don’t have a one-size fits all process.
• Know When to Walk Away – Hunters understand not all pieces of business are a good fit. And, they respect their time and the customer’s time enough to let it go. Chasing after a bad piece of business wastes time and for the Hunter, time is a precious commodity.
• Success is What You Do Tomorrow – Hunters don’t rest on their laurels. They celebrate the win and let that momentum propel them forward to create more wins. They keep moving.
Think about each of these traits. Do you have individuals in your group sales teams with these characteristics? Do you have individuals who are the antithesis of this? You should strive for a healthy mix of both Hunters and Farmers, noting that Farmers won’t be primarily Hunting in their role.
The Hunter In Action
Now that we’ve nailed the traits, how do you determine if someone you have on staff or are interviewing has these traits? Paying close attention to how they talk about their sales process should give you all you need to know to recognize them as a Hunter.
• Are they talking openly? – Hunters are eternal optimists. They are happy to share with you how they’ve grown a book of business, closed specific deals. They will be able to share specifics about deal sizes, when they’ve exceeded quota, what they brought to the table.
• Do they talk about tasks? – Hunters focus on the mechanics of sales; it is what separates them from the pack. They can detail how they penetrated accounts, what their approach to cold-calling is, and how they adapt their selling style to meet the needs of the customer.
• Are they good listeners? – Hunters know how to establish trust and part of that is because they listen to and understand what motivates each customer. They can use that to build a bond and create a sense of value. They truly understand people.
• Have they walked away from deals? Hunters know when to say when. They will be able to tell you of times they walked away from the deal because it either wasn’t the right “fit” or they knew it would be a disservice to both entities. They will sometimes take a pass on a single piece of business as part of a bigger strategy down the road. They know how to make the customer feel understood, heard and with their best interest at heart.
• Are they focused on solving business challenges? – Hunters are consultative in their approach to customers. They are there not just to sell something; they are there to solve a problem. Part of solving problems is to question the status quo and to push back when the customer to get them to see things a different way. That is how they create value for the customer and forever endears them.
Once you understand the traits of Hunters, build your interview questions to elicit answers to help you uncover if the person is one. A Hunter won’t be afraid to delve into specifics and show you how they succeed. Above all, Hunters do not just rely on their natural traits. They are coachable, take responsibility and are proactive in order to control positive outcomes. To learn more about how to create a hunter sales team, please join or view our webcast.

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