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Hunter vs. Farmer in Sales: Empowering Your Team for Long-Term Success

Building a highly successful sales team is about more than finding ‘closers’ who can bring in new business. There are two distinct types of sales professionals. Each type plays a vital role in sales performance and the long-term success of your company. Knowing the difference between them can help you identify who is already on your sales team, which types you need to add to your sales team, and which type each job applicant is when you are in the hiring process.

The two different salespeople personas are called the ‘hunter’ and the ‘farmer.’ Each type has inherent strengths and skills that they employ to increase profits. The hunter type focuses on getting new leads and clients. The farmer focuses more on retaining and expanding existing client accounts. We tend to think of more charismatic hunter types as salespeople, but the value of the farmer types shouldn’t be overlooked. After all, acquiring a new customer can cost five times or more than retaining one you already have.

In this article, we’ll dive into the details of each sales persona. We compare the hunter vs. farmer in sales, and discuss how the hunter-farmer sales model can look in a typical sales process.

Who Are The Sales Hunter Types?

Hunters are likely to be the more extroverted, charismatic, and risk-tolerant members. Since they tend to have a thick skin they don’t mind making cold calls, sending cold emails, or following up with prospects. Hunters should be put in positions where seeking out new leads, initiating sales, and closing deals are key. Hunters know that if they receive a ‘no’ it’s only a matter of time before they get their next ‘yes.’ To them, sales performance is a numbers game. They’re all-in on increasing sales — and new revenue — by casting a wide net and optimizing conversions.

A certain independent streak in the hunter sales persona is crucial to their success. They are highly disciplined individuals who will devotedly pursue their goals. Hunters push hard to reach their sales targets to promote significant growth. They won’t be found waiting for someone to tell them how to get there. Depending on the sales professional, you may find that some hunters are stubborn about learning ways to increase sales. While other hunters are hungry to improve themselves. The latter finds more long-term success. 

What Motivates Hunter Salespeople?

The hunter types’ eager personalities and ambitious appetites are motivated by their drive to compete, earn, and succeed. They have an innate understanding that the only way to build their success is through connection—and making the most of it.

Something about opportunity, possibility, and the unknown inspires the hunter sales persona. Yet, they also want to feel they have control in their careers. This is why the most favorable position for a hunter type will be compensated mainly on a commission basis with unlimited earning potential.

Beware of This Hunter Trait

Because hunters are motivated by what is new, enjoy earning competitive commissions, and are highly quota-focused, they are the sales professionals most likely to move on to another company for a better opportunity. They may be hard to hold on to if they feel stagnant in your company culture or can’t grow their income in your business. Finding the sweet spot for your company is critical in keeping hunters motivated, happy, and loyal.

What Jobs Are Hunters Best At?

Because hunters are exceptionally skilled at giving demos, making sales pitches, overcoming objections, and negotiating terms, they are often a fit for sales/business development or field sales positions. They also make great account executives.

Hunters are the team members you’ll want to send out to networking events, professional organizations, and conferences for your company and industry. They will thrive in an environment where there are exciting connections to make. They build rapport quickly and make great first impressions.

How to Find Hunters for Your Team

When hunters apply for a sales position, they are likely to mention the sales skills they have that are relevant to new customer acquisition. They may have past experience that highlights their past sales performance and ability to turn cold prospects into profitable accounts. And they will be the candidates who persistently and proactively follow up on their applications and interviews.

You can also contact our team for help finding the perfect hunter type for your company. We have both hunter and farmer types in our wide network of sales professionals.

Who are the Sales Farmer Types?

The farmer sales persona is about warmth and nurturing. Instead of focusing on new revenue like the hunter types, farmer types focus on increasing lifetime customer value. These salespeople thrive when they are responsible for building and maintaining relationships that contribute to a company’s long-term success. Loyalty is a part of their nature, and they inspire that loyalty in customers as well. This is why they are exceptionally skilled at client retention, renewing customers’ contracts, upselling, and cross-selling. Service is the name of the game for farmer salespeople.

After the hunter types have converted their cold leads into buyers, the farmer takes over to onboard, send reminders, review accounts, update customers, and prevent churn. Where hunters send out cold communications, farmers are known for sending out warm emails and making warm calls to clients and customers who are already engaged with the company.

What Motivates Farmer Salespeople?

Because a farmer’s job isn’t to fill a lead generation and conversion quota, they look for a more stable income — usually with higher base pay and less emphasis on commissions. This allows farmers to put people first and keep relationships at the forefront. If farmer types are forced to work within a commission structure, they may choose to prospect out of sheer necessity. But, this robs the farmer of the opportunity to exercise their strengths and your company of the benefits of long-term customer satisfaction.

Farmers are highly conscientious. They would rather provide the service and support a customer needs to stay with the company long-term than risk the relationship by putting on pressure for a bigger sale in the short term. Farmers can also be more motivated by collaboration and working on a team. This is important for customer service positions where access to support resources is crucial and allows farmers to be the maximizers they are.

What Jobs Are Farmers Best At?

Farmers will help their customers succeed by using products they’ve already purchased. This could mean creating user tutorials, writing instructions and guides, and walking customers through setup. They focus on responding to customer inquiries, building long-term trust, and are always in the customer’s corner. If you send farmers to conferences, they’re more likely to spend time deepening relationships with current customers.

Because of their friendly demeanor and service-focused nature, farmers are well suited for sales roles such as account manager, customer service specialist, and customer success representative.

How to Find Farmers For Your Team

Farmers will be more reserved in the interview process. Don’t expect them to put themselves out there like a hunter! Look for individuals who highlight relationship-building skills in their resumes and interviews.

Hiring farmers for your sales team requires a long-term commitment for success. The position can take months or even years to pay off, depending on how often customers renew with your company and what other products you have to sell to existing customers. For this reason, you must find farmers who will plug into your team seamlessly. They should also add just the right blend of skills to your existing team.

Implementing the Hunter-Farmer Sales Model

There are various ways to structure your sales team within the hunter-farmer sales model. The size of your team and how they work best together will determine which structure is best for you. The most common option is the ‘assembly line’ structure, where hunters handle outreach, pitching, and closing. They then hand off the customer to a farmer who handles onboarding and nurturing the customer long-term.

Some companies have their hunters and farmers work in smaller groups. That way the transition from hunter to farmer can be collaborative and as smooth as possible for the customer. In a small team, a blended model where salespeople possess strengths and skills from both types of sales personas may be necessary.

If you’d like to plug into a global network of strong hunter and farmer sales professionals, we can help! Just click here to contact our team, and you’ll be one step closer to finding the perfect fit to maximize your team’s performance.


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Eliot Burdett

CEO at Peak Sales Recruiting

Before Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies, where he took the lead in recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software). He was also Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless. Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner. He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.