Hunters, Farmers, and Your Sales

Business Woman Drawing Profit Growth Graph

“In most Sales Teams there is a predominance of either hunters or farmers. This usually reflects the preference of the Sales Manager and is one cause of poor sales results.”

~ Chandell Labbozzetta

What Do Hunters and Farmers Have to Do With Sales Anyway?

There are two primary types of sales people:

Hunters:

As the term suggests, these people love to talk to new prospects and close sales. They are fantastic at conjuring sales almost out of thin air. Metaphorically speaking, they’re the ‘find and kill’ sales people. They are happy to cold call total strangers, move quickly into a compelling sales pitch, and often walk away with a sale or definite appointment. However, they’re not so good at nurturing relationships over time and turning following up prospects who are not ready to buy.

Farmers:

In contrast to the hunters, farmer-type sales people prefer to talk to people who have expressed interest. They often stretch out the sales cycle and their sales results may be lower. Their approach to sales is more ‘tend and harvest’. Farmer-types find cold calling repellant and, not surprisingly, they rarely get around to doing it. On the other hand, they are endlessly patient and persevering when it comes to following up prospects, staying in touch until they are ready to buy.

However, the exciting thing is that anyone can learn to be a hybrid by studying the opposite mode of sales and you can also build a power team that incorporates both styles.

What Difference Does it Make to my Business?

Both hunters and farmers can be stellar sales people who accelerate your business’s profitability and growth. In fact, high-performing sales teams need a balance of the two types for best results. However, teams frequently lean toward one type or the other because sales managers usually prefer to hire people with the same sales style as themselves.

Here’s the problem: some qualified prospects are ready to buy and make decisions quickly, others are not yet ready to buy either because the timing isn’t right, or because they like to make decisions slowly. Both types of buyers are qualified, but their timelines are different.

If you put a farmer-type sales person in front of prepared and decisive buyers, they may get frustrated while waiting for the contract to appear and give up. If you put a hunter-type in front of a buyer who needs time to think things over, the buyer may feel pressured and simply tune out.

Swap out your sales people and match them with the buyer-types and your outcomes will be quite different.

Do You Know Whether Your Sales Team is Made up of Hunters or Farmers?

Identifying the sales style of your current sales team members is an important first step in transforming your results. The second step is helping each person to grow their sales skills and awareness.

I’ve noticed that some sales people hold the ‘my way is the highway’ attitude. Their thinking goes as follows: “because in the past I have delivered stellar sales using my approach and outperformed other team members this is the best way of selling our product.”

The problem is, this attitude works until it doesn’t…

  • A shift in the economy;
  • A change in personnel (in your company, or your clients’);
  • Developments in technology;

…Or any other transformation can put a damper on sales.

In NLP we say that the person with the most flexibility controls the system. The application of this principle to sales would say:

The person with the most flexible sales repertoire controls business growth and the short-term future of the company.

The exciting thing about this is that sales strategies, and the communication and rapport strategies that underly them can be learned and developed IF your team members are willing to grow.

Knowledge is Power

Understanding the characteristic sales styles of people on your sales team is crucial for growth and prosperity. As a sales manager, knowing your own preferences is also important so that you can balance out your natural prejudices when you hire new people.

You also need to recognise whether your key people are open to developing new skills in the opposite area or, at least, appreciating their own weaknesses. It’s fine to have specialist hunters and farmers as long as they’re prepared to say, “This prospect would be better suited to your sales style than mine.” This way, your business can reap the benefits of both approaches and close more sales.

In-House Sales Training & Assessment

Would you like some expert help evaluating and empowering your sales team so that you can improve results, increase morale, and extend the skills of every member of your team?

Sometimes an objective and skilled outsider can see potential, problems, and solutions and provide a perspective that no one inside the organisation can match.

If you’re interested, email support@lifepuzzle.com.au to ask about our In-House Sales Training & Assessment program and we’ll send your our questionnaire and schedule a call.

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