Sales Resources .

Sales strategy, good account management

Five top tips for farming your client base – As compiled by NZ Sales Leaders

Written by

Miles Valentine

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We all know the different sales skills and attributes of hunters and farmers.

Hunters are your sales people who love the thrill of the chase, they have to get up every morning and decide where, who and which technique to use for the hunt. Farmers on the other hand are your account managers who love building fruitful (and profitable), long-term relationships. They know where their fields are – they just need to go and get the most from them.


Farmers are generally easier to find, but really good ones are not. They might have the personality for it, but they don’t always have the right tools and techniques to generate the highest yield. Luckily, you can train them in those skills and give them the resources!

Effective account managers know how to cross sell, upsell, and segment and prioritise accounts. It’s just like a farmer who plants another crop amidst existing crops (cross sell), farms higher value crop (upsell), or figures out which crops and soils will result in the best produce (segmentation and prioritisation).

So, what does a world class farm plan look like?

We discussed this with our Sales Leaders at a recent Indicator Sales Syndicate session, and compiled the following five key tips:

  1. Know how skilled your account manager is at farming.

  2. You need to know how often you are going to visit each part of the farm – what are the relevant call cycles – the bigger and better paddocks probably need more time and visits.

  3. You need a field by field written plan (at least for the big fields) and a templated written plan for each major account. It needs to be reviewed with the account themselves.  Does each party know each other’s expectations? Their targets and opportunities? Their “white space”.

  4. Based on past production and future potential, you need to decide which fields are the good ones. Your accounts should be segmented or tiered so you spend your efforts where they will be rewarded.
    • Do they understand your value proposition (and can they articulate it?)
    • Do they know how to have a cross and upsell conversation?
    • How knowledgeable are they about their accounts’ industry and markets?
    • Have they been trained on what’s expected of them in their day to day conversations?
    • Do templates or guidelines exist, and do they use them?
    • Do they know what to say or ask?
    • They need to know what they can change.  What are their authority limits for pricing or discounting? What can they promise (or not)?
    • They need to plan their days, and what to do with each paddock each day. Is there a call planning process in place and are they expected to use it?
    • Do they know how they will open each meeting or conversation? What do they want to cover in the meeting, and what is the desired goal or outcome?
    • They need to be able to bring in the specialists – the haymakers, the shearers, the harvesters. The account manger needs to be able to access specialist expertise or support when they need it.
    • They need to be able to access resource while exercising overall field management.

  5. To go with all the skills and tools your farmers need, you as a business also need the right tools to look after all your farmers, and your farms! This information repository could take the form of a customer relationship management tool. This is used to hold all the information about an account – the touch points (contacts) and their buying motivators, all documents/communications relating to them, call cycles, notes of past discussions, budgets (ideally linked to real financial data) – everything your company needs to immediately step in and start to manage that account – this is the company’s intellectual property – an asset – and a valuable one at that! After all, you can’t get the right price for your crops at the market, if you don’t have a record of their value - past, present, and future.

These five tips for framing your client base more effectively are in no particular order. They are all critical to getting the right behaviours and performance from your farmers, and ensuring the right yield from your farm! So prioritise what’s most important for the growth of your revenue right now and start working through them. But do work through them all, as they all add tremendous value to your business.

Hopefully these help you to farm your farm better!

About Indicator

Indicator provides expert training and consulting for sales leaders and CEOs who want to transform their capability, performance and impact in the market – for their teams and organisations.

We bring together like-minded people and industry leaders through consultation, training courses and the Sales Syndicate – the monthly programme designed specifically for sales managers and sales leaders.