hunter-vs-account-manager1I have had several conversations in the last two weeks about the differing skill sets of Account Managers vs. Hunters.  It seems that there are many sales organizations that need both of these characteristics either within the same salesperson or across the team.  Additionally, over the course of the last five years, one of the most frequent problems we have diagnosed within the sales teams we analyze is the unfortunate realization that the company needs Hunters and all they have are Account Managers or marginal Hunters.

These two skill sets are possible to find in one salesperson, but more frequently you will find salespeople who prefer and are more skilled at one and not so skilled or comfortable with the other.  So, be very careful if you are hiring or need an individual salesperson to do both.  Many managers falsely believe that if a salesperson can hunt then they will also be a fine Account Manager.  This is faulty thinking.  Now it is true that the skills required by Hunters are generally considered to be more difficult than those of an Account Manager, but it is wrong to assume that good Hunters will make good Account Managers.

Here are the skills of an accomplished Account Manager:

  • Has Strong Relationships
  • Will Meet/Talk with Decision Makers
  • Will Know the Real Budgets
  • Will Handle Organizational Politics
  • Will Manage Time Effectively
  • Won’t Feel Urgency to Close Business
  • Won’t Alienate People
  • Won’t Look for New Accounts
  • Will Make Friends Everywhere
  • Will Follow Up Often

 Here are the skills of a proficient Hunter:

  • Uses Sales 2.0 Tools
  • Attends Networking Events
  • Prospects via Phone and/or Walk-ins
  • Gets Referrals from Customers/Network
  • Reaches Decision Makers
  • Scheduled Appointments
  • Prospects Consistently
  • Has No Need for Approval
  • Recovers from Rejection
  • Maintains a Full Pipeline
  • Will Prospect

After reviewing these two lists, you may notice that there are no common traits.  That is the most obvious reason why you MUST hire Hunters if you need Hunters.  If you need Account Managers you MUST hire Account Managers.  If you need one person to do both, proceed extremely cautiously and find someone who can do both.  Hunters who are exclusively Hunters will grow bored with existing clients and will perform the role of Account Manager poorly, which could cause client attrition.  Account Managers who do not have the skill sets of a Hunter but are asked to hunt will likely not do it.  They will handle current clients much more attentively, as opposed to hunting.  It is probable that they will make excuses as to why they can’t find time to hunt (“I needed to handle a call or email from a client”).

Reduce your stress level and find the salespeople with the right traits for the role you need them to perform.  If you want to see more information about how these skill sets impact salespeople’s effectiveness feel free to download a sample salesperson evaluation where these skill sets, along with others, are discussed more fully.  If you want to watch a more comprehensive discussion about this topic download this recent webcast I in conjunction with Security Systems News entitled “How to Upgrade Your Sales Force”.