Are hunters and farmers mutually exclusive in today's sales teams? This issue just resurfaced in the following email I just received from a Sales Machine reader:
My friend has hired a consultant who feels he has too many farmers and not enough hunters, and that that they can not be one and the same. Their simple definitions are:
I'm curious what you guys think. Here's a poll. Vote, then click for my opinion. CLICK for my opinion Â» Originally, the role of the "hunter" and the role of the "farmer" have been very separate and required very different personality types and skill sets. I've frequently heard sales managers insist that it's absolutely key to differentiate between the two roles. However, I think that viewpoint is becoming obsolete. One of the major themes that's developing in Sales Machine (as it get driven forward by your comments) is that cold calling is getting less and less effective. It's just harder to get through to people with whom you don't already have some kind of relationship. As a result, much of the improvement in sales technology is aimed at relationship building prior to the sales contact: lead nurturing, trigger events, harvesting data from website, etc. As a result, the "hunter" role is becoming more of a "trapper" role, with the emphasis on understanding more about the prospect. In addition, as companies become more complicated and enterprises interwoven with one another, referral selling, upselling and cross-selling become more important as a source of new business, forcing the "farmers" to become more like "foragers". In other words, the two roles are no longer as distinct as they were in the past, making it more possible for a single individual to play both roles effectively. I might note that a similar melding is taking place between inside and outside sales, with inside sales becoming more proactive (through web conferencing and other tools) and outside sales taking on many of the characteristics of inside sales (like frequent email contact.)
I believe a professional sales person should have the skills and desire to do both these jobs, and that sales reps should be hired and trained to be equally effective at both roles. What do you think?
- Hunter. Opens and closes new accounts but is neither good nor comfortable at maintaining on-going relationships.
- Farmer. Is good at maintaining relationships but neither good nor comfortable at prospecting and closing new business.
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