The role of new account sales representatives or Hunters is focused on getting the organization new business. Account Managers, or Farmers, are responsible for growing and maintaining the revenue stream. At a point in time there is a “handoff” of an account from the one who generated it to the one who is going to manage it over time. The timing is dependent on the nature and length of the sales cycle, on who is the buyer and “administrator” within the client, and should the “Hunter” have any future dealings with the customer. In strategic partners or large accounts, these tend to be handled by a team, where the Hunter is only involved when there is an upgrade to the products or similar issues. The Farmer or Account Manager handles all the day to day activities, renews the contracts, and looks for new opportunities. When new opportunities arise, he/she works out with the Hunter who will take the lead on the opportunity. The reason is that the Account Manager has a relationship with one person in the organization (the internal administrator or program manager) and the Hunter has a relationship with the decision maker or senior executive. There is a longstanding “rule” that an individual can usually only span two levels in an organization. If the Hunter starts working with the client’s administrator, he/she will lose contact and credibility with the senior executive who bought the contract/service. This is an important principle in dealing with large accounts. So, one guideline regarding the timing of the handoff in the sales organization is when the management of the account or service is transferred to someone lower in the client organization for ongoing management. This may take 3 to 6 months after the contract has been signed. The pay of the Hunter is for this period (or the contract’s value) and the Account Manager picks this up and goes forward, and may not receive any income until the time of the contract’s renewal or there are additional sales (upsells) within the account.
If however, the business model relationship is that the decision maker is the administrator, then the timing is dependent on how quickly the Account Manager can establish a relationship with the decision maker. In this case, the Hunter and Account Manager are seen by the client/customer as being at the same level, and the Hunter was the one who found and opened the opportunity, but the real company-customer relationship is forged with the Account Manager. In this case the Hunter is paid based on the contract value once it is invoiced (depending on how the invoicing works in a subscription model), or for some period of time for the sales effort to be adequately compensated. Then, the revenues, renewals and upsells, belong to the Account Manager. The Account Manager does not need to go and get new business, but needs to retain, renew, service (i.e., address problems, provide education, support the products applications, etc.) and upsell new opportunities. The Account Manager takes advantage of the growth of the business of the client as well as the use and expansion of the product/service within the client. The Hunter is off looking for new opportunities.