I believe that in B2B sales, the hunter role has changed significantly, and may become extinct in the near future, especially if your company still uses the B2B hunter sales person in the same old way.
And I am saying this, as someone who has been a hunter salesman for close to 40 years.
In B2B, there are usually two roles that are associated with sales; a hunter and a farmer.
A B2B hunter is a sales person, like the name suggests, who goes out and finds new prospects and clients. In its simplest terms, the farmer role is just another term for Account Manager.
A B2B hunter was someone who was given a territory, many times a phone book, and told to go get business. He/she was then given a quota of some sort, and had to find a way of meeting that quota, usually by their own means, or he/she got fired.
The old saying was, “you eat what you kill”.
On the flip side, a B2B hunter sales person was usually paid very well.
So a B2B hunter sales person not only sold, but was also his/her chief marketer. And marketing, or “prospecting” as it was called, was cold calling people.
And I have spent many countless weeks, months and years in that role, because I have owned and operated three businesses, all started from scratch. And that was how I was taught, and really didn’t know any better. And most times, it worked – eventually.
It worked, because the prospect expected these calls. They don’t expect, or want them, anymore.
I was taught that you had to figure out how many face-to-face situations you needed to close one sale.
First, you had to figure out who was the right person to talk to. Then you got the phone book to find their phone number.
Then you had to figure out how many people you had to talk to, to get a face-to-face call. And then you had to figure out how many phone calls you had to make to get someone on the phone to call you back. And of course, before all of that, you had to develop a script to get them to talk to you.
And many B2B sales people did their marketing with their feet, actually going out to companies and stopping by to talk to the “right” person. Just like a door-to-door salesman.
Because that was how we were taught to get business. And I hated every minute of it.
Before the Internet, inbound sales had a role, but it was expensive. It was sending out letters through the mail, but it was very seldom used by B2B companies.
If you really got lucky, a company, that wanted some information on your products or services, would find you, usually through the yellow pages, or from a referral, and ask your company to send out a sales rep to explain your products and services to them.
Man – that was heaven!
However, with the advent of the Internet, websites and all the social media platforms that now abound, marketing has changed significantly, and so has the role of marketers and B2B hunter sales people.
Research has shown that now over 80% of B2B companies find you before you even know they are looking.
And with the arrival of call display, voice mail, etc., very few people will answer their phone from someone they don’t know or recognize. Also, with the “no call” services now, it has become even more difficult to use this way for marketing.
Finally, most B2B companies are using content marketing, and allowing prospects to download material for free, so the selling company can start a relationship with them.
The role of the B2B “hunter” sales person has changed dramatically. And yet, most B2B companies I see are still using the hunter sales person in much the same way – here is the phone book, start calling. Or at least a variety of that method.
Or, many of them are told to build the website, if they want to get business that way. But, they still have a short deadline to get business.
That is why I produced a video, number 16, Why is B2B marketing so important vs sales today Part 1?
I have also produced a white paper, which you can download by clicking on the graphic on the top right of this page, “In B2B, Why Marketing is More Important than Sales”
If you want to grow your B2B business, in today’s connected world, then you need to change the way you contact and connect with your prospects and clients. You need to understand how important B2B marketing has become, and how much more important it will be to the growth of your business.
You need to use the Internet, your website, and social media platforms so people can find your business, and you can start a relationship with your company. You also need to use the right marketing analytics that are available today, to ensure your success.
You need to tie your sales efforts through your marketing.
In today’s connected world, marketing is more important than sales, because without the right marketing, your sales efforts will not succeed.
The B2B “hunter” sales person may not be completely dead, but he/she is definitely on life support, or should I say, they should be on marketing support, to survive and grow.