You hear the terms "hunters" and "farmers" thrown around a lot in the sales world. Sales leaders are always looking for "hunters" — as they should. New business is the lifeblood of any sales organization. Without salespeople that know how to "hunt" for new clients, a company can and will be in trouble.
Of course, companies must also have salespeople who are "farmers." Reps need to be able to cultivate clients by building relationships and growing accounts. Organizations must ensure that their key accounts renew and develop.
Characteristics of Hunters and Farmers in the Sales
Rarely do you find a "unicorn" candidate that is both an excellent hunter and farmer, which is why as a sales leader, you need to begin looking for account executives that fill one or the other roles on your team.
To build the best possible sales team, look for candidates that are hunters or farmers.
Here are characteristics that will help you define the difference.
- Mission focused — Their mission is to close new business. Anything that detours them from their mission is a hindrance.
- Numbers-driven — They know that sales is a numbers game and are always looking for ways to be more productive and efficient.
- Competitive — They thrive on competition with others or themselves. They hate to lose even more than they love to win.
- Persistent — They do not take no for an answer, and they have no problem being seen as pesky, sometimes bordering on stalker-ish.
- Independent — They like to see themselves as lone wolves who don't need a pack or even a leader to get the job completed.
- Results-focused — Their focus is on helping their client achieve the results that they've promised.
- Relational driven — They believe that success is based on developing, nurturing, and focusing on their relationships with their clients.
- Service-oriented — They strive to provide the best service to their clients. Farmers don't cut corners, but rather cultivate their "crops" all season long.
- Disciplined — They are organized and disciplined that traditionally have a system to serve and grow their accounts.
- Collaborative — Unlike hunters, farmers like to work together with their clients and team to provide the best solutions and results possible
The goal in building the best possible sales team should always be to find the best salespeople available. Often that means selecting candidates that are exceptionally talented at either being a hunter or farmer, and that is OK. It's almost impossible to find someone that excels at both.