Sales Techniques: Hunting, Gathering, and Sustainable Farming

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In the new Western culture, almost every aspect of social life has become female rather than male-oriented. The topic of Sales is no different. Most sales seminars now focus on long-term relationship-building, which is wonderful for women-owned businesses, but might not make sense for others (i.e. males and highly project-oriented women).

The current wisdom is to strongly resist any of the supposedly Old Wisdom of the Hunting methods, in which the point of sales was to swoop in, make the kill (of selling the customer something either defective or unnecessary), and zoom out. Now, everything in sales is centered on relational techniques, building friendships, and obtaining compromises; most of these are female-centered ways of living.

These techniques definitely have value, but not just by themselves. Even in the often-quoted Olden Times of the 1940’s, when cigar-smoking in male-dominated offices was cool, the secretaries made the entire place run smoothly.

Positive Points – Avoiding the Hunting Technique

Some of the anti-hunting ideas have value, in the sense that salesmen who care more about the sale than the customer (the Wham-Bam Killers) should get thrown into jail. For a reference point, this would be the equivalent of a hunter clearing out an entire section of forest, killing just for the thrill rather than for necessity, with the arrogant idea that the earth can just replenish itself and critters are there to provide target practice for the cleverer bipeds. If the hunter cannot move to a new area, the hunter ought to starve as a consequence of treating the hunting grounds like a landfill; there should be no ability for the hunter to destroy and move on.

Having said that, do-or-die methods are valuable in certain scenarios, such as military exercises, sports, or law enforcement. Somebody has to win, and somebody has to lose, and you’d better hope that the good guys win. [The only sustainable element in this type of hunting, as far as I can see, is that a hunter gets to know certain patterns in the predators of his territory, rather like gathering intelligence for clearing out a nest of vipers. Nobody wins if the vipers take over.]

Negative Points – Gathering Isn’t Everything

On the flip side, being a Gatherer of sales can have its drawbacks. If you’re constantly in two-hour meetings being a great listener to your clients, and neither closing sales nor being paid for your free counseling service, your business will either go bust or you should apply for a non-profit status.

Relationships only last when they are built around something other than the relationship. If a dating couple want to move on to successive levels of intimacy, it’s better for both if they have some sort of goal to achieve in unison: enjoying movies together, building a house, raising children, being an example of good clean living, etc. Lacking a goal outside of just ‘hanging out’ means that eventually, someone gets bored. In business, this means that having great talks over coffee should eventually result in something getting created, finished, or passed on to someone else.

The Great Blend – Inbound Marketing, or Sustainable Farming

Small businesses focused on long-term results need a blend of gathering (customer information, demographics, etc) and hunting (actually closing with a sale) that benefits both owner and customer.

The customer is very often right, or has great insight, but not always; sometimes the customer truly does not understand the legal, ethical, or moral underpinnings keeping the owner from being able to say “Sure, I’ll do it for YOU” without disastrous consequences. This situation of customization/personalization can be the equivalent of the small child trying to convince the babysitter to allow her to have ice cream because ‘You’re in charge and Mommy doesn’t have to know.’ Mommy will find out, and Mommy will be upset, as she should be, because the kid doesn’t know how to eat right. It is rare to find a child who knows AND practices the idea of fruits and vegetables versus potato chips and ice cream.

The Inbound Marketing Technique is the equivalent of catching your prey by building a very attractive snare, so that you can catch and release them (with a built-in tracking chip), so they can go out and entice others to frequent your meadow’s salt lick so that the manure can help the meadow to grow, or whatever you want to accomplish.

Now I’m going to read some more Calvin & Hobbes to gain further insight.

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