Claws and fangs don’t make you a good hunter but rather knowing how to use them within the context of your prey does.

I had a discussion with a colleague recently when he made a statement regarding types of salespeople, specifically hunters versus farmers. His perception was that you are either one or the other and that hunters’ are a much rarer breed.

Certain people may be predisposed to being more effective in a hunter role or new business focused role, which is supported by their core skill set and the learned behaviors they have developed over time. That does not mean that these skills cannot be acquired or effectively build repeatable processes and doing the right things will not allow others to be successful within a hunter role.

Demystifying the Hunter Persona:

1. Hunters are not born but develop based on personal development choices and experience

2. Being a hunter is a commitment to a life style choice and its inherent risks and rewards

3. Hunters realize what works and build out repeatable processes to ensure greater success

4. Join organizations that value the hunter philosophy in practice and not only in the job description

I have personally seen and worked with individuals defined as hunter personalities who were made farmers, or a hybrid hunter-farmer, by joining an organization where the methodology and sales execution practices actually hindered the hunter from flourishing. This happens more often in small organizations that are cash sensitive as well as in larger organizations with aggressive growth initiatives that may not have the right individuals in the appropriate roles. When organizations set goals they have to be aggressive but attainable. Targets need to be based on data and not desired results or optimistic/hopeful outcomes.

Hope is not a strategy! It will result in weird behavior derived from a scarcity perception. Hoarding or holding on to accounts longer than they should, risk avoidance by accepting smaller orders, diminished new business development activity and busy work increases rather than doing the right things. This starts the breakdown of the hunter who, based on situational and environmental conditions, starts becoming more of a farmer. This provides a sense of security as they can generate revenue from upsell/cross sell activities that have a lesser degree of risk than going out to find net new business. This is more prevalent in tough economic conditions. As some of these activities provide temporary relief, the process entrenches into the individual’s way of working. The path of least resistance, like domesticated animals, slowly loses their edge and over time could be unable to rejoin the wild. Claws and fangs don’t make you a good hunter but rather knowing how to use them within the context of your prey does.

Something to look for when reviewing new opportunities:

  1. Review the sales process, personal development, and compensation program before joining a firm to help uncover some of these indicators
  2. Understand the targets and how it was determined
  3. Ask what the results of peers were last year and the data that indicate the current targets are attainable
  4. The percentage of the sales team that met their objectives
  5. Sales turnover in the last 3 years
  6. Net new customers added in the last 3 years
  7. Growth in the average sales size

This is just a sample of questions you can ask. A personal, professional, and developmental list of questions should be generated in order to score criteria to identify your “best employment opportunity.”

The truth be said, the outdated hunter farmer categorization is irrelevant in today’s professional sales domain. It still seems to linger in the minds of those who do not invest enough time in personal development or maybe they’re external to the sales domain. The new breed of sales professionals are better trained and understand repeatable task execution and leveraging success to build out processes to secure more future business. They are focused on finding solutions in alignment with business issues, which could be within new, or existing customers. These versatile and flexible individuals are the future sales professional that will shape the domain.

Thoughts to ponder!

About the author

Osman Baig

Osman Baig is a Senior Sales Executive, Blogger and Author (The Developmental Phases of…

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