During today’s sales training I had interesting discussion with participants if Hunter / Farmer model is an effective approach for sales team capability development?
The purpose of any model is to help us navigate through reality. If we use it correctly, each model can be useful. But if we use them blindly, they might become an obstacle to performance.
The concept of the hunter and farmer personas was originally developed by psychotherapist Thom Hartman to help people understand the personality traits of ADD and ADHD. But it has since become a popular way of conceptualizing sales teams. Different sales teams may aim for a different balance of Hunter and Farmer energy with the team.
The main distinction between the hunter and farmer sales personas is in where they invest their time and energy.
Farmers cultivate existing relationships with clients and seek opportunities within existing accounts.
Hunters are constantly prospecting and seeking opportunities with new, unfamiliar leads.
Key hunters traits:
- Mission focused — Their mission is to close new business.
- Numbers-driven — They know that sales is a numbers game and are always looking for ways to be more productive and efficient.
- Competitive — They thrive on competition with others or themselves. They hate to lose even more than they love to win.
- Persistent — They do not take no for an answer.
- Independent — They like to see themselves as lone wolves who don’t need a pack or even a leader to get the job completed.
Key farmers traits:
- Results-focused — Their focus is on helping their client achieve the results that they’ve promised.
- Relational driven — They believe that success is based on developing, nurturing, and focusing on their relationships with their clients.
- Service-oriented — They strive to provide the best service to their clients. Farmers don’t cut corners, but rather cultivate their “crops” all season long.
- Disciplined — They are organized and disciplined that traditionally have a system to serve and grow their accounts.
- Collaborative — Unlike hunters, farmers like to work together with their clients and team to provide the best solutions and results possible
Personality traits & Hunter / Farmer model
In order to get the real value from any model, especially those presented in polarity form – (like Hunter – Farmer) it is good idea to dive deeper and understand what personality traits corelate with each polarity. Saville Assessment, a Willis Towers Watson Company Wave model, and its Sales Competency Report is perfect tool to assess sales reps and sales team potential and match results with Hunter / Farmer model.
On the last page of Wave Sales Expert Report you can find sales rep profile summary. In the example below you can see that natural preferences of this person is Hunter with huge potential to become sales manager.
Most of us have blended traits of both Hunter and Farmer, and with right strategically aligned training and coaching (unless we have big splits on the key competencies) it is possible to develop qualities that are needed for the position.
At the same time more and more businesses show need for professionals who have certain balance of Hunter and Farmer energy. For such cases Wave report is really good tool to discover the gaps and to understand how big investment of time and energy is needed to overcome it.
To conclude, I love the model and I find it useful as long as we are aware of its limitation.
In most cases it is way better avoid either or approach and aim for a right balance of Hunter and Farmer sales reps energy, both personally and within your team (depending on what are your goals).