I recently read an article about how the art of farming is better for sales than the skill of hunting. Since I have been a hunter in sales for almost 30 years now, I wanted to devote this discussion to some of the advantages and disadvantages to both.
First, we have to start with a better understanding of these terms. Listed below are some character traits for both the hunter and the farmer:
Hunters are independent and love to be out and about scouring for customer acquisition.
They are willing to look outside of the current client base and explore new areas.
They are the representatives and advocates in the business community.
Hunters excel at networking.
If a prospective client needs a new solution, the Hunter will analyze the problem and work on developing solutions.
Hunters are natural multitaskers who like to pursue several leads and projects at the same time.
Hunters want to be paid well but they’re not just in it for the money. They like the game.
Farmers get the most value from each client by optimizing sales opportunities.
Their strengths lie in customer retention.
They learn about the individual needs of each client and they use their creativity to satisfy those needs with products and services.
Farmers will return to the client for feedback and will stay on task until they have implemented all options for the client.
Farmers are willing to take the long view and don’t mind spending the time required to close the lead.
So, after seeing these, I want to ask you some questions. First, which one are you? Honestly, in my travels, I talk to a lot of sales people who start out the conversation telling me they are hunters. By the end of the conversation, they realize that they are farmers. Most are farmers. Second question: Do you like to cold call? Farmers hate it. Do you look forward to the networking meeting so that you can meet some new people, or do you prefer that others in your organization do it? Hunters live to network, as they see that as the next step in personal fulfillment.
So, you are standing in line at the movies and you see a prospect and an existing client – who do you talk to? Who do you try to learn more about? And who would you rather sit with in the movie? The answers to this will definitely show you which of these you are!
Is one better than the other? Or are they both critical for survival? I would venture to say that they are both critical for survival. Our sales teams need both. We need to grow our business both inside the existing client base and outside the client base. We need to market ourselves to our existing partners, but we also need to look for new partners. So let’s change the game; let’s look at it differently. Think of something that will connect well with each other and complement each other rather than fight. One thing cannot live without the other, like a yin and yang relationship. It is as unhealthy for an organization to look just to its existing clients for all the business growth as it is for it to just look outward. A proper balance would be ideal.