Hunter vs. Farmer - Perception vs. Reality

You need to hire a salesperson. So you write a job description that looks something like this:

“The ideal candidate is competitive, energetic, passionate and aggressive in their pursuit of excellence. Responsibilities include: generating new sales in prospective accounts, develop and maintain a database of qualified leads, follow up on new leads…”

Sounds familiar, right?

But what you really mean is this: “Looking for a savage animal who will bang the phones relentlessly.”


You know want to say it. After all, you want to hire someone who will get you results. You just can’t put that sort of language in the job description. 

The perception of what makes a great salesperson comes down to a simple idea that is deeply ingrained in the sales profession: There are hunters… and there are farmers.



Hunters are the ones who focus on the “quick wins.” They are the solution-driven, independent salespeople you think of when someone uses the word “savage.” As for farmers, they are the relationship builders – AKA the consultative salesperson. They have a more long-term vision when it comes to sales. Their strengths lie in their ability to collaborate, cross-sell, and gain a customer’s loyalty. Both hunters and farmers are important in generating revenue. But for some reason, most people prefer to hire the hunters… and that’s a mistake.

The Sales Profession is Changing

There’s no way around it. Customers are bombarded by sales calls and emails every day. After a certain point, each cold call/email turns into white noise. Plus, with the internet providing so much information at our fingertips, any customer will need more than just a savvy sales pitch to buy. In other words, even if you hire a cold-calling machine, it doesn’t guarantee they’ll have the ability to influence a strategic buyer of your services.


The Disconnect |

What You THINK You Want in a Salesperson vs. What You ACTUALLY Want in a Salesperson

At the end of the day, you want to hire a salesperson that generates revenue for your organization. But, if you’re like most people, your ideas about what actually generates revenue in a modern-day sales role are probably skewed. Quick wins are overrated. They come easy, and they go easy. The big deals – the ones that take time to build – are the ones that really make a difference for an organization’s growth.

For salespeople to win a large scale deal, it’s not going to be because they are “savages”. It’s going to be because they can ask the right questions, adapt, be resilient, handle objections, take constructive criticism, and ultimately: get their customer to a recognition of needs. It’s going to be because they listened to their prospect’s critical concerns and objectives, and mapped their solution to those concerns. Now, does that sound like a hunter’s “quick win” to you?


The New Age of Sales Requires a Hybrid – Part Hunter, Part Farmer

As the sales landscape continues to evolve, being just a hunter or just a farmer will not be enough. The good news? With social media and social selling, there are more communication channels and opportunities to connect with prospects today than there ever were before. 



The new archetype of a top producing salesperson is a hybrid: part hunter and part farmer. Using a combination of outreach, referrals, and social selling, this hybrid salesperson will probably have 20-30 micro interactions with a prospect before they even begin the outreach process with that prospect.

Perhaps it sounds like a lot of extra effort. I get that. But as salespeople redirect the effort expended on trying to get a prospect to notice their calls/emails towards building their own personal brand and reputation, they will find that their prospects will be much more receptive to the pitch once familiar with the person delivering it.


Finding Your Next Top Producer Will Require You to Reexamine Your Hiring Process

Obviously, the success/failure of a specific sales strategy depends on a lot of factors – who your customers are, what you’re selling, the timing, whether or not there’s an existing relationship, the company’s reputation, as well as the salesperson’s personal reputation. And while some of these factors are uncontrollable, you want to hire someone who works to control what factors he/she can.

From a hiring standpoint, finding the right fit starts with objectivity. Detail what you want your candidates to achieve and how you expect them to achieve it. It should be a mixture of calls, emails, networking, referrals, and social selling. Then, you should assess candidates using tools like personality assessments and role playing scenarios. Finally, you must remove any personal bias that deems “good salesperson” as synonymous with words like “savage” or “animal.”

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Kate Jacoutot

Spire Workforce Solutions, 5575 Peachtree Dunwoody Road Northeast, Building C, Suite 240, Sandy Springs, GA, 30342, United States