This past week I came across the phrase “must be hunter” in a job posting for a sales position. I don’t remember which industry. It might have been finance, insurance, real estate, or a mobile app company. Actually, it must have been an up and coming industry like digital marketing where they talk about big data and analytics and things that go click in the night. It’s all very organized and cultlike.
The phrase was used to describe the type of salesperson they wanted: a hunter, not a gatherer. Pounce on the prey; just don’t sit there and wait for it to walk up to you. Most of the people who apply for hunter jobs are young, aggressive, male, and eager for a kill. The language reflects that. Don’t we talk about making a killing, going in for the kill, hunting for prospects, getting another notch in the belt? David Mamet’s play Glengarry Glen Ross is a brutal depiction of this hunter world in real estate.
Recently, I have been working in the retail clothing industry and have had regular contact with customers. I also have had an opportunity to observe commission-based sales associates at work. The competition can get fierce even if outwardly civil. No one actually will declare that they are out for your customer or client, but you’d better not turn your back for too long.
I once had a sales job where I told my manager that my strategy was to sit by the phone and wait for it to ring. He was not amused. I have since developed a strategy to counter “must be hunter.” I call it “do not chase customers.” I mean this in a literal sense. I have seen sales associates hover over customers like neurotic parents at a playground. It is undignified. It diminishes the sales associate in the eyes of the customer.
With “do not chase customers,” customers have time to browse, think, and breathe freely. There is no rush to decide and no pressure from sales associates. This creates an atmosphere of trust and even a little peace amid the chaos of holiday shopping. The customer feels less pressured and, as a result, may spend more. The sales associate gets the commission and the store profits.
Do not chase customers.
“Do not chase customers” has many applications. It can be used with literary agents, job recruiters, bosses, romantic interests, business school deans, credit card companies, and banks. Think about it. It puts you in control by putting everything else into perspective. After all, how many of these people or situations are life or death? Sure, you may not want to be aloof with an emergency room staff, but other than that, why would you chase anything, even trains Everything will come to you sooner or later, so why not take your time?
Of course, this is heresy to corporate America, marketing, sales, and most millennials, who have been taught to believe that if you don’t have an app for aggregating data points, you might as well be living in your grandmother’s basement. A lot of them have the app but are still in the basement. Bear in mind, this is a vision coming from someone who believes that we don’t sell things. We sell to people. I have written about this before in terms of McDonald’s hamburgers. You don’t sell a junior-miss, cotton tee (whatever that is). You sell to the parent buying it.
This relates to a spirituality of sales, which is something that Og Mandino used to write about. I prefer to think of it as indifference. If you are indifferent to customers, bankers, and romantic partners, you keep your essence intact. You keep your dignity. I actually think you’ll get more sales that way. Of course, it requires persistence and volume. A lot of persistence and volume.
Indifference reminds me of the standup comedian who asked the audience what kind of animal the average male is. “Wolf!” yelled a young woman. “What about a gentleman?” the comedian asked. “A wolf with patience.” So, if you’re going to be a hunter in 2016, be one with patience. But whatever you do, close the sale!