In both sales and marketing, it is important to match the right personality to the right role. Before deciding on final placements within the company, determine the unique set of skills that each individual on your sales team has.
In sales, knowing the distinction between hunter and farmer can greatly impact business. Hunters are salespeople who love to chase new leads and sales. Farmers prefer to get more business out of their existing clients. There will always be debates as to which is better, but it ultimately depends on the type of product or service you’re selling.
Hunters are also known as the doers. They get their sales energy through “hunting” new opportunities. Hunters can be described as independent (with a lot of initiative) and solution-driven. They tend to focus on big deals and love going from one to the next as soon as they close their current prospect.
In contrast to the hunters, farmers are more focused on developing long-term relationships. They are the nurturers—building relationships with leads and clients for a lasting impact. They are team players that bring everyone else up and develop strong customer loyalty.
Typical Sales Roles for Hunters and Farmers
If you have the ability to structure roles on the basis of employees’ skills after having the chance to first train and get to know team members, consider putting hunters and farmers into roles that specifically take advantage of their unique skill sets:
Sales roles where hunters are likely to excel:
- Account executive
- Field sales representative
- Business development representative/manager
Sales roles where farmers are likely to excel:
- Account manager/representative
- Customer service representative
- Inside sales representative
Obviously, specialized roles are easier to accommodate in larger organizations, but even on smaller teams, you can delegate responsibilities accordingly. The same people can have multiple roles, but they should play to what they’re best at.
Impact on Your Business
When attempting to determine the large-scale differences between hunters and farmers, eventually we ask ourselves, “Who is better—a hunter or a farmer?” The answer is ultimately irrelevant, because for a company to truly succeed in sales, it will need both types of people on its sales team.
Create a rock star sales team by knowing your sales representatives’ strengths and weaknesses. Create a balance where both hunters and farmers are represented in proportion to how important new business or recurring revenue is in regards to selling your products and services.
Know that having hunters but no farmers will help you with rapid customer acquisition, but you’ll have trouble keeping up with your existing customer base. Likewise, having farmers but no hunters will help you achieve a loyal customer base, but you will have a hard time expanding the company to new customers and opportunities.
In part 2 of this article, we’ll continue the discussion of hunters and farmers to determine how a sales team can take advantage of both sales specialties, and we’ll talk about the additional benefits that result in role specialization.