team DNA

Want to increase sales performance? Start from your team DNA

Who are the hunters and farmers in your sales team?

Who are the hunters and farmers in your sales team? Or do other characteristics determine the DNA of your salespeople? If you want to improve your team’s sales performance, you need to know their DNA. 

The classic way to look at salespeople is the dichotomy between hunters and farmers. In a nutshell, this is the difference between salespeople who acquire customers and who maintain customer relationships. 

Unfortunately, this dichotomy is a bit outdated, and no longer useful for maximizing your team’s sales potential. Further in this article, I explain why. But let me start by stating how we may look at this in a better way. 

Three important sales competencies  

Research has shown that every sales profile is, to a greater or lesser extent, a combination of three components or competencies. And one such competence is a mix of knowledge, skills, attitudes and convictions.  

These components are:  

  • Account Management: This competency focuses on supporting the customer in the best way. This translates into customer support and taking responsibility to resolve problems quickly and appropriately. Account Management also means coordinating and connecting the right people within the company and the customer. Everything is about service and maintaining existing relationships. 
  • Account Development: This competency includes actively seeking up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. Important attributes here are proactivity and thinking with the customer to cover their needs with the available range of products and services as much as possible. Account Development requires that you can extend relationships to colleagues of your relations who may also benefit from a partnership. This allows you to sell other products and services and maximize the share of wallet. 
  • Business Development: The three main characteristics here are building new relationships, empathy for the customer’s business and influencing from trust. This competency is necessary to develop new opportunities within the same company, but also to activate and bring in new customers. 
Sales Profile by team example:
Sales profile by team

Healthy mix  

Every salesperson has a unique blend of the three competencies listed above. Some of the underlying skills can be learned, at least up to the point where the salesperson steps outside their comfort zone too far or when personal beliefs become too much of an obstacle in a business environment. In that respect, it is not strange to speak of the salesperson’s DNA. An obvious example is that you would teach someone who scores very high on account management and has virtually no business development competency skills, to market a new product or focus on new customer acquisition.  

Based on the unique mix of competencies, you can better distribute roles and responsibilities in your team. A balanced distribution ensures a consistent and positive customer experience across all touch points. 

For example, someone with strong account management competencies and little affinity for business development will function best in a commercial support function. Customer Success and inside sales are two typical job titles for such a profile. Someone with strong business development competencies and little affinity for account management will thrive on bringing in new customers, and preferably non-recurring customers. 

Why the hunter – farmer model is no longer adequate 

The dichotomy between hunters and farmers may have been useful as a shortcut, but today’s more complex sales practice requires a much more nuanced view. Today we see sales profiles more as a unique blend of three competencies that every salesperson possesses to a greater or lesser degree. 

Today’s reality brings forth new challenges: 

  • The Internet and social media often lead to better informed customers, but just as often to misinformed customers.  
  • The number of people involved in B2B decisions has increased to an average of 6.8 people and can be as high as 20.  
  • Products and services have become more comprehensive and complex. 
  • Market volatility has never been greater. 
  • The speed of change and evolution continues to increase. 

The best way to deal with this new complexity is to organize sales as a team sport. Make sure all competencies are present in the right dosage so you can offer your customers a consistently positive experience throughout the entire customer journey. 

Better performance based on your team DNA   

The distribution of the three sales profiles across your team is what we call your team DNA. That DNA will have an impact on: 

  • How and who you are hiring, and which competencies you need to reinforce  
  • Which roles you assign to the different people in your team  
  • Which skills and knowledge areas need to be developed  
  • How you compose your customer portfolios. For example, you want to avoid having pure acquisition customers in the same portfolio as retention customers. 
  • How you manage and coach each team member in line with what they like to do and what they want to improve in quickly.

Do you want to maximize the performance and mental fitness of your sales team? Then, first and foremost, you need a certain balance in the available profiles adapted to your goals. An efficient, flexible and balanced team with the right DNA consists of motivated employees who each individually do the right things at the right time, together with the right stakeholders, both internally and with the customer. 

Discover your team DNA  

Do you want to map the DNA of your sales team and use this to improve their performance? You can. At Perpetos, we use a sophisticated audit that we can also link to sales performance. 

For example, in this audit we examine: 

  • The preferences and spontaneous reactions of team members when handling a range of customer situations  
  • Time spent on each type of sales activity
  • Time lost on activities that should not be the responsibility of a sales person 
  • What energizes your sales reps and keeps them mentally fit 
  • To what extent they are satisfied with support from other departments 
  • In some cases, to what extent compensation is perceived as “fair” and in line with expected performance 

We call this our Account Development Audit™. The audit is most effective for companies that derive a significant portion of their revenue from recurring customers and sales. For companies that sell investment goods for example, we have a different audit that is more suited to that typical environment. 

An audit of your sales team is an important step towards making better use of the people available to realize your goals.

Do you want to know more about the possible impact of a DNA analysis of your team?

About Pascal Persyn

Pascal supports organisations in delivering commercial excellence in the areas of Sales Enablement, Content Strategy and Buyer Journey Enablement. His pet projects are about helping companies overcome challenges due to the empowered customer and thus evolving into buyer-aligned organisations. His executive experience in private, VC-backed and public companies enables doing the right thing at the right time with the right people. Don’t hesitate to contact Pascal for expert advice: