The idea of categorizing salespeople as either hunters or farms has been around for decades. But the debate still rages, which one do you want on your sales team? The answer is not as clear cut as you may think.
To understand who you need on your team it is important to understand the characteristics of each, starting with the hunters.
Hunters love to network
They enjoy being out in the field, searching for their next customer
They are independent and solution driven
Hunters focus on quick acquisitions and big deals
Hunters like to multitask and manage multiple leads and projects at the same time
They are willing to take risks
Farmers prefer working with a few customers
Farmers take a long-term view of situations and work for a long time to close a lead
They are strongest at customer retention and nurture strong customer loyalty
They take time to learn about the individual needs of each client and are able to optimize sales opportunities
Farmers may be stressed by tight deadlines
The best ways to motivate each is also different. Farmers are motivated when you provide work-life balance, career progression opportunities and when they are rewarded for avoiding losses. Hunters on the other hand are motivated when you set goals and reward wins.
But which is better for your sales team. Is it really an either-or situation? I don't think so. When you look your customer base in an area, it is never a matter of all farming or all hunting. You need to be farming to maintain and grow your base, but you also need to hunters to go out find new customers. A business can't survive it if is unable to add new clients.
So enters a new class of sales people. Gone are the days where you either close deals or manager accounts. The most successful sales people have learned how to maneuver between both extremes. You have farmers that have learned how to hunt or hunters who know how to farm. These sales people move the sales process along purposefully, but can still build and maintain long term relationships. They utilize tactics from both based on a strategic plan that allows them to maximize their time and manage multiple opportunities at once. They are focused on finding solutions that align with business issues with both new AND existing customers. This new breed of sales person is better trained and they understand repeatable task execution to secure more future business.
Having an either-or mentality can can create a division in your sales team and undo your efforts to create a winning sales culture. It is important to the long term success of your sales program to have both hunters and farms on your team and for each of them to learn from the other.