Olsen on Sales: Hunters, Farmers & Dominators

When people say, “There are hunters and there are farmers,” they are making excuses or don’t understand sales. There are hunters and farmers who plug away, and there are dominators who do both—and much more.

Eighty percent of sales go to the dominators, so the single-skill set salespeople are fighting over 20% of the pie. Does that sound like fun? It’s not.  

One of the most frustrating clients to work with are those that answer the question, “What are you working on?” with “Just working hard!” What they really mean is, “I’ve got this,” which really means “I’m going do it MY way.” I call it the Popeye Syndrome—“I y’am what I y’am and that’s ALL that I y’am.” They remind me of myself. For the first eight years of my sales career I made 70 calls a day. Few traders made more calls than I did, but many made more money! Was I working hard? Yes, on the wrong things.

We are not a cartoon. If we act like we can’t change, then we won’t change. Unless we are the one-out-of-60 exception who is a “natural” salesperson, we will have to “work on” all areas of our sales skill set.

Working hard on the wrong thing is a false friend that leads us to frustrating, under-producing sales lives. Can we make a living by hard work (or any single-sales skill) alone? Yes. But we’ll be nothing more than a plugger. The big money will go to others. We’ll take the “hustle-scraps;” we’ll never eat the sweetest part of the sales pineapple.  

While we may be great at one aspect of sales, the weakest part of our game is the one that holds us back. We can be a great closer but be poor at maintaining relationships, making us spend an inordinate amount of time looking for new business. Long-term contracts don’t go to weak relationship builders. They also don’t go to great relationship builders who can’t close. Here are some common blind spots of salespeople who work hard and are great at one thing but neglect other parts of the master seller skill set:
• Great at relationship; poor at closing (and vice-versa)
• Expert product/market knowledge; poor relationship skills
• Expert closer; weak on follow-up or work ethic
• Good margins; no volume
• Volume; low margins + high-maintenance accounts
• Great sales with one account; no new business

Here are six areas of lifetime study for the master seller: 

1. Technical sales skills. These are all the verbal techniques used to move business along and close. They include openings, overcoming objections, questions, turns of phrases, and closes. 

2. Emotional sales skills. These are the skills we use to relate to others. Emotion Intelligence is the science of what to say, when to say it, how to say it, and to whom. Charm and likeability are true competitive advantages. They are so sparsely practiced that any salesperson who exhibits a minimum of caring and enthusiasm for their customers will succeed.  

3. Internal sales skills. How we feel about ourselves and our attitude towards our success.

4. Product knowledge is often overrated in the hands of a yeoman, but in the hands of a master seller is powerful.

5. Hard work is essential for sellers who want to dominate their markets, because those who dominate markets do (almost) everything perfectly and outwork the competition.   

6. Social media. We must have a social media presence that is attractive and accessible to our customers. We have control of our social message. Lack of social media presence sends another kind of message (not up to date).

These skills must be studied and mastered to survive in sales. But to rise to the level of master/monster/dominator seller we must display confidence. 

Confidence is the most attractive attribute of salespeople. Customers are magnetically attracted to confident salespeople; they can’t help it! The opposite is also true; they will run from lack of confidence. Master sellers have different strengths, but what they have in common is confidence. Sales dominators are lifetime learners whose confidence comes from preparation.   


– James Olsen, Reality Sales Training, james@realitysalestraining.com

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