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Hiring Sales Pros: The Journeyman, the Maverick and the Superstar...

When I hire sales pros, I invariably turn to the following question - is this sales pro a "hunter" or a "farmer"? The farmer, in my eyes, is more passive and more apt to do well in a sales role that requires more account management than actual hardcore sales.

The hunter, however, has no tolerance for the hand holding that goes with account managment.  She's done and on to the next one.  You have to pay her more than the farmer as well, because good hunters are harder to find than goodTop-gun-maverick farmers.  I also view the hunter as having more "nature" than "nuture" in them.  I think you can teach someone to hunt, but the love of the hunt is more of an innate skill/behavioral trait.

Of course, my method is probably too simple.  There are a lot of other factors in play, including the life stage of your company.  One guy thinks that for early stage companies, you should figure out if that sales candidate you're talking to is Journeyman, Maverick or Superstar, then hire accordingly.  Introducing Mark Suster of Both Sides of the Table:

"But doesn’t Journeyman almost imply something pejorative? Yeah, kind of. Even though they’re great at process you can tell when you spend time with them that they miss some sort of “spark” that you’re expecting in a sales person. Some sort of magic where you just finished the meeting and can’t remember what they were selling but you know you needed three of them. It’s the “je ne sais quoi,” the “X factor.” And in my experience Journeyman are not good in two scenarios. a) they don’t tend to make great heads of sales departments and b) they aren’t the people you want early in your company. The reason for “b” is that most early stage companies survive on “evangelical sales” as in when you’re having to educate the customer on something new and different and get them to take a leap of faith. Journeymen don’t do “leap of faith.” They sell more commoditized or well understood products that can be sold via a well-defined process. That’s my view, anyhow. And my experience has taught me that."

First things first. You should add Suster to your reader, if for no other reason than you don't have enough exposure to the mind of the Venture Capitalist. Go do that.  Now.

You can click through for the descriptions off the Maverick and the Superstar from Mark's post.  I think expanding my myopia of hunter/farmer makes sense, especially in light of the company you are.  You can look at the lifecycle stage of your company, you can look at the industry, the culture, whatever you want and make a determination whether a Journeyman, Maverick or Superstar would be best for you.

Mark doesn't go into it, but the compensation requirements of each are different as well.  Factor that in, and many companies couldn't afford the Superstar.  With that in mind, you're left with the Journeyman and the Maverick, and there are a lot of cultures that need the behavioral traits of the Maverick on their sales force but their culture won't support that hire.  So by default, they're left with the Journeyman.

Interesting stuff, lots of moving parts.  Go read the post and learn. And yeah, I went there with the pic of Maverick from Top Gun, people.  Iceman can't be far behind for next week.


Rob Bartlett

I get most of it I just think that journeymen make better coaches, and as an example Dave Tippet has Phoenix in the playoffs and Wayne Gretzky could not.

Learning consultants- expertise in a subject makes you dangerous as you miss that crucial piece that is innate to you that others need to figure things out.

The X factor means the superstar just gets it, they can't explain why something doesn't work. The journeyman who had to think it out to get success can explain the why.

Who are the superstar coaches (heads of departments) in sports, mostly they were journeymen.
Bobby Cox, Chuck Daly, Coach K, Popowich, Parcells.....

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