Helping Hunters and Farmers Excel in Sales

In part 1 of this article, we discussed the concept of hunters and farmers and how each contributes to a well-balanced sales team. As they have distinct strengths and weaknesses, it’s important to understand how to help them excel from a sales trainer or sales manager’s point of view.

Learning the Role

The best possible situation for a sales team is a balanced number of hunters and farmers. While this balance is entirely possible to achieve, it’s not always realistic—especially on small sales teams. Small businesses are often forced to double up sales staff’s responsibilities because of a limited number of personnel. But wherever possible, attempts should be made to help salespeople specialize or take on specialized elements in their current role.

The consequences for not introducing an element of specialization include (but are certainly not limited to) missed opportunities, unachieved team goals, and a loss in potential sales (both new and recurring).

Promotion-Focused vs. Prevention-Focused Salespeople

Salespeople with hunter traits are promotion-focused. Promotion-focused salespeople are motivated to achieve goals. Because of this, they are also creative, optimistic, and willing to take risks.

Promotion-focused salespeople are also:

  • More likely to lose steam without positive feedback;
  • More likely to make mistakes;
  • Generally unprepared; and
  • Motivated by compensation and incentives/rewards.

Alternately, salespeople with farmer traits are said to be prevention-focused. Prevention-focused salespeople are motivated to avoid losses. These salespeople are also the ones who are deliberate and careful, prepared for the worst, and problem-solvers.

Prevention-focused salespeople are also:

  • More likely to work slowly;
  • Easily stressed by tight deadlines;
  • Maintainers of the status quo; and
  • Motivated by a job that provides a work/life balance and career progression opportunities.

Use what you now know about promotion- and prevention-focused salespeople to determine how to incentivize them and play to their unique strengths and weaknesses.

Benefits of Sales Role Specialization

Hunters and farmers make up the ideal balance of a great sales team. Here are some additional benefits relating to sales role specialization:

  1. Clearly defined roles and objectives: Team members feel secure in their roles and understand their goals. Knowing whether someone is a hunter or farmer will help their supervisors create strategies to meet those objectives.
  2. Expertise: Being able to become an expert and increase specialization means more sales closed relative to a hunter or farmer’s strengths. The more a salesperson executes a specific action, the more he or she will become skilled in that area.
  3. Equal attention to customer relations and customer acquisition: With the right sales personnel, it’s easy to address the various needs of customers and identify sales issues. On that note, specialization will also make it easier to suggest points of improvement.

Clearly, catering to salespeople based on their preferred roles (hunter or farmer) can lead to many positive business benefits. How will you take this information to manage your sales team?