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Hunters vs. farmer sales models: Find real personas of your sales reps

There are two ways of sustenance in our world – you either hunt down your food or you farm.  

And the sales world is no different. 

In sales, hunters work on capturing new leads, while farmers farm the existing clientele for incremental sales. However, there are a few sales roles that have both responsibilities. 

As a leader, it’s important for you to take a deeper look into these personalities and identify if your team is hunter-leaning or farmer-leaning. 

Who are hunters in sales? 

As the name suggests, a hunter persona goes out and seeks new opportunities, prospects, and accounts. They’re independent, and enjoy moving from one deal to another in sales pipeline, as they are motivated to continue ahead and find new leads. 

To hunters, numbers are everything. 

Hunters are committed, motivated, and determined. Since hunters are highly optimistic, they tend to reach out to every prospect with determination and are able to manage multiple leads in quick succession. 

Hunters are mainly risk-takers and are good at quickly building rapport with prospects, but not necessarily good at cultivating long-term relationships. They attend a lot of networking events, actively surf LinkedIn (and other social media), and ask for a lot of referrals. 

This personality thrives in the roles where they get to be independent. 

Who are farmers in sales? 

A farmer salesperson is most comfortable in nurturing existing relationships. They work towards building relationships and rapport with the prospects. They are team players and work towards bringing everyone up along with themselves. They build strong customer loyalty and make sure they’re available whenever customers need them. 

Farmers drive revenue from the existing clients, sometimes through encouraging upgrades to higher plans of their services. 

This personality type thrives in the roles where they get to work with a team. 

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Hunter vs. farmer sales model: What’s the difference?

The age-old hunter versus farmer debate has faced scrutiny from all angles. 

You, as a sales leader, might have taken on one personality type or the other in your selling days. However, to make sure that your team has a fine balance of both personality types, you should understand both roles in detail too. 

Sales leaders choose one of these modules based on the kind of business they’re running. In some cases, they also rely on the kind of products they’re trying to sell. 

Earlier, businesses were mostly divided into these two categories – they adopted only one of the sales models. 

However, the time is different now. Every business needs to comprehend the fact that they cannot be solely hunters or farmers. Hence, they need a team that can do both, as and when required. 

The main difference between the hunter and farmer sales personas is how they spend their time and what kind of sales activities they focus on.

Psychology says that hunters are mostly the extroverted type, while the farmers are generally introverted. Here’s an image that briefly describes the basic personality difference between a hunter salesperson and a farmer salesperson.                 

Now, let’s look into each personality type in detail. With the help of this understanding, you can decide which persona works better for your team. 

Understand your team better – Are your sales reps hunting or farming? 

When you create the right team, everyone gets the glory they deserve. Be it a hunter or a farmer, everyone plays an important part in increasing the company’s sales and generating more revenue. 

An ideal sales team would be where all the sales reps create mutually beneficial and financially rewarding relationships with each other, irrespective of them being hunters or farmers. 

While hunters are more focused on tasks rather than relationships, farmers put more importance on relationships over tasks. 

To create a beneficial sales team, you need to stop spending time on finding someone who is both a hunter as well as a farmer. You can focus on finding someone who possesses strong traits of one of these personality types and make them work together as a team. 

Let’s take a look at what kind of roles are best suited for each personality. You’ll also get an idea of how you can place each in your team to get the best results. 

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Roles for hunters 

A hunter salesperson’s personality is a requisite combination of behaviors, driving forces, acumen and competencies, education, experience, and background to perform outside sales hunting roles. Here are some of the roles suitable for a hunter salesperson’s personality type: 

  • Account executive 
  • Field sales representative 
  • Business development representative/ manager 

…and such. 

Roles for farmers 

A farmer salesperson’s personality is a requisite combination of behaviors, driving forces, acumen, competencies, education, experience, and background to perform account manager sales roles. Here are some of the roles suitable for a farmer salesperson’s personality type: 

  • Account manager/ representative 
  • Customer service representative 
  • Inside sales representative

…and such. 

It is nearly impossible to find a personnel who is both a hunter and a farmer. However, in rare circumstances, a person could become both through adapted behaviors coupled with strong sales systems and management. Not many companies have the luxury of having dedicated sales reps who display each personality.

Hunter vs. farmer sales model infographic

What results can you expect from each model? 

When we say hunter vs. farmer model, we talk as if they are two different models altogether. However, they both are two sides of the same coin. 

Both these personalities have different ways of working, and hence, you can expect different things out of them both. 

Sales hunter model 

The main role that a hunter plays in a team is to bring in new business. So, for companies that are just starting out, having an entire team of hunters can prove out to be beneficial. Hunters prioritize quantitative results – finding new prospects.  

Because of their competitive nature, they can push the team to reach their sales goals more quickly and close as many deals as they can. If the company is experiencing slow growth, bringing in more hunters can help with new customer acquisition.  

Sales farmer model

While hunters are promotion-focused, farmers are prevention-focused. This means that they don’t like taking many risks and don’t want to lose what they already have. Hence, they focus more on customer retention over acquisition. 

Farmers are in for the long term, and they are willing to invest their time and energy into their job. Hence, farmers are a solid investment when a company wants to focus on long-term stability and maintain a loyal customer base over time. 

Though farmers cannot make up for the shortfall of new customers, they can increase revenue by upselling and renewing contracts. Without the attention of a farmer, even a satisfied customer will drift away over time. 

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Hunter vs. farmer? The age-old question still prevails… 

Although, the methods of hunting have been the same for ages, the methods used for farming have evolved over time. With new technology and sales methodologies available, farming has evolved to be more fruitful. It has even grown to a level to outrun the hunting methods in generating revenue. 

In real life as well as in business, building and nurturing strong interpersonal relationships is essential. Hence, effective farming and cultivating loyal relationships with customers is the key to cost-effective revenue growth. 

When we talk about business, hunting is crucial as finding new clients is important for the growth of the business. However, in long term, sales hunting is a high-cost, labor-intensive, and inefficient method. 

It’s 8-10x more expensive to find a new customer than to keep and grow an existing one. 

It takes hundreds of man-hours to get a new customer on board, and the incentives paid to the salespeople is also high, which makes sales hunting costly. 

How to strengthen your team with Hunter vs. Farmer sales model? 

Companies may require a different balance of hunters and farmers at different stages of their journeys. For example, a new business benefits more with a higher number of hunters in the team to increase their clientele. 

Once you have a steady client base, you want to focus more on customer retention and satisfaction, increasing their life cycle with the company. This is where you would want to hire more farmers to manage the key accounts. 

Too many hunters but not enough farmers can mean that your company is good at bringing in new customers but struggles to retain them in long term. 

The ratio of hunters to farmers in your team does not necessarily have to be 50/50, but it surely needs to be well-balanced. This means that you need to make sure there are enough farmers to nurture the deals while the hunters move to new ones. Whereas, enough hunters are also needed to keep the inflow of new customers steady. 

However, keep one thing in your mind – never push your hunters and farmers to be someone they are not. Only by accepting their true personality traits and helping them excel, you can build the most effective sales team. 

A third wheel in the hunter vs. farmer sales model – The trappers 

Apart from hunters and farmers, there is also a third personality type in this sales model – The Trappers

Trappers have a critical understanding of their business’s target audience and buyer personas, and they meet the prospects where they already are in their buyer’s journey

They rely on inbound marketing to attract clients. Unlike hunters who go out to seek new customers and farmers who nurture the existing ones, trappers set a ‘trap’ and wait for the customers to come to them. 

You can add a few trappers to your sales team to enhance your team’s performance, or even encourage trapper skills among your hunters and farmers to improve your sales quotas. 

All in all, hunters, farmers, and trappers – all these personality types have their own roles and responsibilities to fulfill in a sales team. By applying hunter and farmer sales models to your company, you can grow your business fruitfully.

Building and managing a solid sales team can be a bit time-consuming, along with all the sales targets on hand. That’s why Salesmate has built every single feature mindfully that’ll keep your pipeline moving, and you can actually focus on the one thing you love the most – Selling.

Parijat Lamba

Being an avid reader, Parijat developed a keen interest in writing at a very young age. She's passionate about topics like Spirituality, History, Psychology, and Philosophy. She's now a Product Specialist at Salesmate and strives to write her own novel someday.

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