19 thoughts on “Why do all Sales People go from Hunter to Farmer?

  1. So, true… comfortable is the new norm for many of them.
    I think in most case many salespeople think of 20 other things before the sale. 1. Holidays 2. Friday night drinks. 3. getting home early. 4. What’s for dinner tonight. the list goes on … These days in this environment, I argue … its about profit… what profit does each sales person make for the business, once you take off all the costs… Seems harsh, but make no mistake… unless a sales person is measured daily, then you have an issue.

  2. An interesting read Tony. As young sales exec working in the TV & Digital arena and just entered the field I can totally relate to the hunger aspect. I may be wrong when I say this due to lack of experience but I can’t see myself coming a farmer as one of the thrills of the job is to meet new people and one of the easiest way to do so is pick up the phone and chap the doors. I’ll come back to you in 10 years time to tell you if my views have changed though. 🙂

    Mark Pettit

    1. Thanks Mark. I certainly hope that’s the case. Good luck, you’re starting out in one of the best careers in the world and in a great category too!
      I hope your hunger is always with you, stay in touch and let me know?

  3. Hi Tony, excellent article and I’m sorry to say there are times when I’ve fallen into this trap. It usually happens to me through a combination of protectiveness towards my clients and egotism. I persuade myself that no one can serve my clients as well as I do, make as much effort for them as I do or understand their needs as well as I do. There may be some truth in this but it leads to more account management, less cold calls, less new business and less of the activity I love and do best. It doesn’t happen to me often and it certainly doesn’t signal a loss of hunger, but the fact that it can still happen sets alarm bells ringing. Cheers for the reminder.

  4. Hi Tony, Interested thread, I agree with you as a out and out saleman a fews years ago I have slipped into the role of famrner quite effectively, but then again I’m doing a different role, although the problem when you have been a sales person you tend to want to compete against the sales people rather than nurture them.. My thoughts are the best Sales Managers are seldom good sales people they just know how to manage the different character types and know how to manipulate peoples egos to get the best results.. Very often companies make the mistake of promoting a good saleman to a manager post and then see sales fall away and wonder why? Aces in there places … It’s very rare to find a motivator of people who can also sell as well as a good sales guy.

    1. Thanks Andrew, and welcome to the blog! I think this conversation inevitably tends towards a structural argument. As we have discussed, Hunters hunting and Farmers farming is certainly something to consider, and you are bang on in my option, about the question of sales managers.
      To often, good sales people are promoted to sales management and find that in fact they need totally different skills! Meaning that you are right, they often fail…
      I feel another blog post coming on 🙂

  5. Tony, an interesting article. Interesting comment about the development into sales managaement. When in employed positions, I always found that the utterly useless, energyless unskilled and tired sales people were the ones to be promotoed to management where they earned less for greater stress than the sales-achievers on the front line. Another exception to the rule is those who use proper consultants and other means to develop skill bases and time management. Both myself and a fellow director started as hunters, have developed farmer skills and manage to switch between the two very diverse skill sets. In the same week as hunting my greatest ever deal (by monetary size) I have also touched base with, and nutured existing relationships. I say this, as there is another type of sales person – the one that evolves with time but does not forget the initial skills or run out of energy. But then again, I guess they naturally go oon to own thier own businessa and develop skills by having great people around them. I did really enjoy the article and the way in which it was written – and for the most part agree. On the other hand, there are always exceptions to the rule.

  6. A very compelling read Tony… I’m in my 4th year of a pure hunter role and whilst I have not fallen into this trap to date, I’ve never over looked the importance of farmers/service people and as Harvey says, ideally you want a bit of both in your toolkit. In fact I often regard farmers as the sensible ones! – We go to war and bring back the nice warm relationship for them to nurture (and if you have a good farmer, they’ll be as excited as we are!)…- also, many customers leave through lack of contact, so you’ve got to be both in a way, but I still feel that I am meant to be the hunter, and that the day I become a farmer is when the market/company structure dictates that I ‘have’ to rather than want to. Heaven forbid I start to relax! Great article 🙂

    1. Thanks Mike – Really good to get the insight of so many people with specific experience in these roles, and I am glad I’ve captured some of the issues at play.
      You make a really good point about the enthusiasm farmers can show and that the quality of the work they do shouldn’t be under estimated!
      Thanks for your contribution

  7. Ola, Tony. My first two years in radio sales…I did not have much time to breathe. I had a goal of a certain number of long-term radio advertisers. I was a hunter. But I still had to keep my current customers happy (farmer). It’s like juggling. It’s not easy. 4 years into my radio sales career, I got complacent. Call it a dip in my “fire” if you will. I didn’t have any new good prospects in my pipeline…and my sales were hit hard when I had a bunch of long-term clients cut their ad budget in half when the American economy tanked. Lesson learned. But I think we all have different degrees of that going on every quarter, year, or whatever. You have to know when you’re “getting that feeling” and figure out how to re-charge and keep the fire burning. It’s ok to take a vacation…or even an afternoon off to treat yourself to some fun or relaxation.

    I’ve become much more of a FARMER now. But ONLY because I get a nice referral here and there. I don’t have to cold call as much. I don’t have to hunt as often (but don’t get me wrong – I always want more). The better I deliver and treat my customers…the less and less I have to worry about being a hunter.

    Great article by the way!

    1. Hi Duane! Nice to see you back here 🙂
      And thanks, as always a reasoned and valuable contribution. I wonder it it is just about progression and natural development?
      But you are right to be on guard I think, its not far from complacency to disaster!

  8. Hi Tony. Totally agree with you but people only hunt if they are hungry. All salespeople need new challenges even if they are happy farming away. I find that the farmers are the most challenging to manage when given a new goal because it brings them out of their comfort zone and they can react with frustration, anger, content. However I often see these situations as the most rewarding as that hunger comes back. Hope that makes sense!

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