The Mindset of the Bounty Hunter


“Bounty Hunters…  We don’t need their scum.” — Admiral Piett

Ah, but so often, as Dark Side Marketers, we do need the Bounty Hunters of the Sales team.  No matter how good your product is, it won’t sell itself.  Someone has to go out and find the customers.  And that someone is Sales.

But what motivates the Sales team?  The same thing that motivates Bounty Hunters in the Star Wars universe.  Money.

It’s easy to nod your head and move on, but if you’re going to interact properly with sales, you need to realize just how much this basic motivation drives all of your dealings with the Bounty Hunters of your organization.

We Jedi, whether we be Dark Side Marketers or Light Side Engineers, enjoy a certain degree of job security and steady income.  Your average sales person lives under the constant threat of being fired if she doesn’t make her number.  Her compensation plan is driven entirely by her ability to meet her quota.  A bad quarter may be the difference between steak dinners at Morton’s and hamburgers at McDonald’s.  Just as sharks must keep swimming to breathe, sales must keep selling to live.

Consider the implications.  If sales must keep selling, then any time they spend not selling is likely a waste of their time.  They don’t want deep dive product training.  They could care less about the latest obscure features or your product’s new architecture.  They rely on others to learn the tech.  The question that guides their every activity is, “How will this help me make money?”

Imagine your programmers were compensated per line of code written, regardless of quality.  Or if your QA team were paid for every bug report filed.  Or if your product team got a bonus for releasing a product early, never mind any defects.  It would significantly change their behavior.  They would be less concerned about releasing a great product.  And yet, most sales people are primarily compensated solely based on the revenue they bring into the company.  It’s no wonder they are keen to sell something — ANYTHING — and not interested in spending time becoming a well-rounded citizen of your company.  Nor should they.  They need to keep swimming.

Practically speaking, this mindset leads to some of my favorite quotes from sales people I’ve worked with over the years:

  • “The only emails I read right away are from the head of the company, from my boss, and from my customers.”  Marketing and product aren’t on the list.  No one reads your release notes.  No one saw your instructions on tagging marketing campaigns in the CRM.  No one read your launch email.
  • “The answer is yes.”  Hint: it’s always yes.  Yes, we have what you need… I just need to go back now and find out how close we can get to actually delivering it.
  • “Why should I learn this new product?”  After all, quota is quota, and if a sales person can hit his number selling the stuff he knows, there’s not much point in losing selling time trying to learn a new, unproven product that might not sell as well.
  • “I don’t use your slides.  I’m most comfortable with these older ones.”  Oh, the horror of going to a customer meeting and seeing 2 year old slides with outdated misinformation, because the sales person didn’t want to create a new deck.
  • “I couldn’t go to your training, I was on a customer call.”  Customers >> training, every time.
  • “Let’s celebrate!  I sold something to Big Client.  You just have to build it now.”  What in your organization prevents sales from promising stuff that can’t be delivered?  Not every company has a check to balance out this problem.

The next time you’re wondering why sales is ignoring you, or chooses not to bring you on their sales call, or puts pressure on your team to deliver something so they can make the sale… trace it back to their motivations.

Next — learning to work within the framework of the sales mindset.

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About Jeff Foley

Jeff Foley is the Director of Product Marketing for Customer Service Applications at Pegasystems. Jeff started his career as an engineer at Dragon Systems, before moving over to “the Dark Side” of marketing as the product manager for Dragon NaturallySpeaking v5. Throughout product launches at enterprise and consumer companies like Dragon, edocs, Atari, Nuance, Bullhorn, and now Pega, Jeff has aligned sales, marketing, and product organizations around new technologies to deliver software his customers love to use. Jeff holds BS and MEng degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT.
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4 Responses to The Mindset of the Bounty Hunter

  1. Jeff, Great minds think alike.
    http://blackbookninja.com/2012/06/27/9-giving-a-presentation/
    Definitely going to have to crosslink my lastest blog post to this.

  2. Pingback: Product Managers: 4 Tips for Presenting at Sales Meetings | Black Book Ninja

  3. Tyson says:

    Very timely post at the end of June. 🙂

  4. Pingback: Launching a New Product for Your Bounty Hunters | The Dark Side

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