When it comes to sales, is your firm a hunter or farmer? How about both?

eProcurement services firm SciQuest (Nasdaq: SQI) beat the Street in earnings and revenues for the first quarter – and expects a bullish year. Among the reasons: A “hunter and farmer” sales approach implemented for its sales force, CEO Stephen Wiehe told Wall Street analysts on Thursday after the markets closed.

“In sales and marketing circles, you may have heard that some business types are farmers and some are hunters. Some like to plant many seeds among prospects, water them, nurture them, and help them grow. Some people are hunters, scouting for prospects and pursuing people who could become customers,” says website OpenForum.com.

In a conference call to discuss first quarter earnings during which SciQuest beat expectations for earnings by a penny at 9 cents and revenue by $700,000 at $26.9 million, Wiehe says changes in the sales approach helped drive new customers – and increase spend from existing customers.

Thus, hunters and farmers. One result: Five new customers.Plus, Wiehe says momentum continued to build in April as a new quarter began.

“Our confidence is supported by strong lead generation, number and size of active deals and extremely positive market feedback,” he explained.

“Higher education was our top selling team in Q1, which marks back-to-back quarters for them. Meanwhile our commercial markets saw significant cross-selling activity to a year ago due to the positive uptake trends from existing customers.”

Then he described hunter-farmer.

“In order to better service our existing customer base, we took the successful hunter farmer approach that we had on our higher education market and we’ve rolled it into our other teams. The new name for this function is account management and they have two primary responsibilities, both focused on existing clients.

“First, the account management teams are engaging the decision maker significantly in advance of the renewal dates to ensure they understand the value we are generating for them. In addition, they are responsible for understanding customers’ ongoing needs and pursuing cross-selling opportunities. We believe that this attention particularly for those with single solutions will help us enhance our renewal rates and our cross-selling results.

“Furthermore, we expect the team to help us accomplish the third goal, which is to make our hunters more productive by allowing them to focus all of their efforts on signing new customers.”

Later in the call, SciQuest execs discussed the benefits of “new logos” – new customers – but also stressed the ability to “farm” current clients for upsales.

Weihe stressed how upbeat he is about the approach.

“Since we already have people responsible for managing existing accounts in our higher education space, we expect the biggest lift from this efforts to come from other markets. While these teams are new, they have already started to generate positive impact for the business,” he explained.

“For example, there were three customers who are up for renewal that had very satisfied user procurement teams, but those executive [ph] sponsors did not fully understand the value we provide. The account management team closed the information gap and each of these organizations sign multi-year renewals.

“In addition, the team uncovered and then closed an expanded user licensing opportunity. It also elevated the level of ongoing dialogue from the site administrators to decision makers at a number of our customers. With this higher level context, we’re excited to have someone who wants to understand their business and spend management challenges better. They also are having a single advocate within SciQuest.

“This is an important change, since approximately half of our new sales come from existing customers and we’re excited about the early progress. Now that we have the proven — the concept proven, we are in the process of hiring a handful additional members to the team, which should help us accelerate and increase the value they generate.”

The altered sales approach has helped SciQuest deliver three straight quarters is which “we were able to need or beat the high-end of our guidance,” Wiehe pointed out. “We also continued to improve our suite and enhance our go-to-market strategy while generating high average selling prices and strong cross-selling. This demonstrates the value of our platform and the improving maturity of our sales force.”

The CEO now expects an improving harvest, so to speak.

Looking ahead, he predicted “improvements in churn, annualized reoccurring revenue and reoccurring revenue retention rates of 2016 and double-digit quarterly revenue growth rates next year.”

Read the full transcript at: