• Sanjay Gupta

Sales hunters and miners – what to look for in prospective employers

Two engines of business growth are acquisition of new clients and then growing them for annuity business. Success in these rest on the efforts of professionals and can also be significantly facilitated by the organization which they work for.


Professionals who have chosen careers in new client acquisition (hunting) or in growing existing customers (farming) may want to evaluate these company facilitators of success which prioritizing the choice of their employer(s).


Facilitators for success in new client acquisition (Hunting)

A company and its new client hunters get a limited window of time to get the attention of the potential buyer(s) and need to make an impact in that short window.


New client acquisition for established services & products

In established or known products/services, a company needs to stand out from the crowd. Buyers look to work with firms with a track record of success which will get replicated for their purchase; or those which offer products/solutions which are unique.


Three company characteristics to look for when choosing an employer.


  • Company name recognition - The visibility of the company in its markets and its association with the service or product which is being offered. Representing Apple/Samsung when selling smart phones or Accenture/Cognizant/ Wipro when selling IT services gives hunters a tailwind from the brand association of these companies with the respective product / service.

  • Specialized industry solutions – Solutions which are tailored to the industry which you are aiming to sell. E.g. If selling IT services to the retail industry, the availability of solutions for mobile commerce, personalization or inventory management will get attention.

  • References – References of the company’s successes in providing similar products / services. They support the proposition of successful delivering on commitments.

New client acquisition for emerging product or service categories

Many new product and service offerings are originated by start-up’s and young companies. E-bay, Airbnb, and Uber or the Indian IT services and Chinese manufacturers are examples. At the same time, there are also numerous examples of innovative new products from large firms like 3M, GE, and IBM.


Three company characteristics to look for when choosing an employer.


  • Company location – Is the company from a geography which is known for providing the better products or services in that category. E.g. Silicon Valley for IT platform or product solutions; India for IT services; Japan and Korea for consumer electronics. Past successes from these locations create a positive branding for new ventures in similar product or service categories.

  • Pedigree of founders / management – Past successes of the founding team (for start-up ventures) or in similar product/service categories (for established businesses).

  • Pedigree of investors – If the company has been able to attract known investors (particularly for startup’s) it communicates that a knowledgeable group has vetted the company’s offerings and business plan. This can be an assurance to buyers considering a purchase.

Facilitators for growing existing clients (Mining)

Growth with existing customers rests on repeat business, and that repeat business rests on the quality of experience the client has with the current purchase and the availability of additional products/services to purchase.


Two company characteristics to look for when choosing an employer.


  • Predictable delivery - After the first sale, future growth builds on the customer’s product or service experience. For account miners, the better employers are companies which deliver predictably. Most often, these are the larger firms which have grown by retaining customers through predictable delivery. In niche categories, there may also be small firms which deliver well in niche products or services and manage to retain clients for an extended period.

  • Availability of contiguous services / products - The second facilitator of account growth is the ability to offer new products/services. As the opportunity to sell more of the same dwindles, account executives need new offerings to sell and grow business. IBM could have sold only mainframe computers and had a dominant share of its customer spend. However, with only one line of products, business would have flattened or shrunk over time – as it happened with single product companies like Xerox, Apple (in the PC days), DEC, Tandem, or Stratus. By continuously originating new offerings i.e. semiconductors, storage devices, PC’s, infrastructure management services, package implementation, product software, and now cutting edge analytics and compute intensive solutions, IBM has continued to grow by having more to sell to its existing customers.

Summary

The hunt for new clients and growth of existing customers can be more successful when enabled by certain company characteristics. For individuals looking for careers in these two streams, selection of the right company (companies) can make their efforts more productive.


Hunt with the pack - When selling established products/services, work with recognized brands, For newer products or services, especially completely new categories –larger firms with a proven track record of successfully launching new offerings and startup’s with good pedigrees (management / investors) are alternatives.


Mine with the reliable – When aiming to grow with existing clients, work for companies with a track record of predictable service delivery and of continuous expansion of contiguous product/service offerings.


Keep swinging!


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