It’s a truism among consultants: you can only eat what you hunt. In other words, you must constantly be on the hunt for new business (mostly because consulting gigs are usually short-term or one-time engagements.) Many sales professionals feel the same way. Look for new business, convert prospects, make sales, and move on.
The “hunter” sales rep drives revenue by generating and converting new leads.
The “farmer,” on the other hand, generates revenue by nurturing and growing existing accounts. They cultivate what’s already there. They invest in their customer relationships, often doing things that don’t generate immediate revenue because they know it will pay off in the long run.
Both kinds of sales reps are important to the success of a business. Leaders need to understand how each type of sales rep prefers to work and how to encourage and measure their performance.
There are differences between the hunter and farmer personalities. IF you hear a sales rep talk about “the numbers game,” they’re probably hunters. They understand that the way to achieve – and exceed – sales goals is to spend as much time as possible prospecting. They don’t worry about rejections or objections – it’s part of the game. If a prospect doesn’t seem viable after a few contacts, they’ll move on. There’s always another prospect around the corner.
Hunters are ideal for business development. They’re motivated by winning sales and measure their success by their earnings. They’re disciplined and self-motivated because they understand how sales funnels work – they need to be constantly fed. Hunters are often independent types, focused on personal success and new wins; most are natural sales reps but perhaps not natural nurturers.
Farmer types, on the other hand, care as much about maintaining relationships as they do about making new sales. They’re ideally suited to account executive roles, providing support and looking for opportunities to grow revenue by paying attention to the customer’s needs.
Farmers are focused on relationships and love solving problems for customers. They measure their performance based on account retention, growth, and positive feedback. Their focus on relationships means they’re ideal for suggesting ways to improve the customer experience. They’re happy to work on tasks that don’t generate immediate revenue but are important to long-term results and satisfaction, such as feedback surveys and scheduling regular check-ins.
Farmers may not win every sales contest, but they inspire loyalty. That’s what gets companies through lean times when there’s not as much game to hunt. In a previous post, we’ve written about the importance of developing and deepening customer relationships when the market shows signs of uncertainty. As the economy slows and your clients don’t have as many orders they need filled, your relationship will keep your connection strong. They will carry you through until the economy changes, and you can confidently send your hunters out again.