Types of Sales Wolves: The Hunter Sales Wolf and the Farmer Sales Wolf

by Chris Young - The Rainmaker

The level of quality within your sales talent is one of the only factors that can dramatically alter the success of your organization. Use a hiring scorecard and strategic recruiting to find, attract, and retain Sales Wolves. Surround them with Sales Wolf Managers.

Then everything is easy from there, right?

Not so fast.

anaya-katlego-792061-unsplashOnly the best-of-the best are Sales Wolves. True Sales Wolves play-to-win and they do so, consistently.  You understand this, and committed yourself and your organization toward assembling the a team of only the best-of-the-best.

At the point where you have assembled a team of Sales Wolves and Sales Wolf Managers, you are vastly ahead of the game, and most importantly, your competition.

But to truly elevate your team and achieve the best possible results for your organization, you need to understand the different types of Sales Wolf.

There are two (2) distinct type of Sales Wolves:

The Hunter Sales Wolf

A Hunter Sales Wolf is a salesperson with the requisite combination of Behaviors, Driving Forces, Acumen and Competencies (sales personality), experience, education, and background to perform in an outside sales hunting role.

Hunter Sales Wolves know how to identify ideal future Customers who will most appreciate their value proposition and will do everything in their power to identify, engage, and sell ONLY those ideal customers.

The Farmer Sales Wolf

A Farmer Sales Wolf is a salesperson with the requisite combination of Behaviors, Driving Forces, Acumen and Competencies (sales personality), experience, education, and background to perform in a more of an account manager sales role.

Farmer Sales Wolves are able to and should be expected to hunt in existing accounts for opportunities to create additional value. They build strong relationships and have therefore have the deep understanding of individuals and organizations necessary to identify and properly position additional sales opportunities.

In the right team, everyone gets the glory.

The Hunter Sales Wolf seems to get all of the glory, and everyone wants to be a Hunter. The truth is, if someone is not maximizing existing relationships through systematic value creation (Farming), significant value creation opportunity is missed.

Sales Wolves seek mutually-beneficial and financially-rewarding relationships, whether they are Hunters or Farmers. They have strong feedback loops that seek to stop repeating poor outcomes while maximizing favorable outcomes. They understand and can convey the value of the products or services they sell. As a result, they are as or even more valuable than those products or services.

Typically Driving Forces, Acumen and Competencies are very similar between Hunter Sales Wolves and rhett-noonan-172575-unsplashFarmer Sales Wolves. Hunter Sales Wolves are typically more focused on tasks rather than relationships (people), while Farmer Sales Wolves are typically more focused on relationships (people) rather than tasks.

It is not worth spending an exorbitant amount of time searching for someone who is both a Hunter and a Farmer Sales Wolf. It is nearly impossible to find an individual like this; however, in rare circumstances, a salesperson could become both a Hunter and Farmer through adapted behaviors coupled with strong sales systems and management. Many sales teams do not have the luxury of having dedicated salespeople who exhibit these traits.

Rather than focusing on acquiring or attempting to train someone to be both a Hunter and a Farmer Sales Wolf, most sales organizations will have a Hunter Sales Wolf doing some account management (hunter). Hunters farming (managing all of their accounts) and farmers hunting (hunting for new accounts) should be limited. Specialization is key.

Recognize and understand the strengths and weaknesses within your Sales Wolves. Yes, Sales Wolves are human and have some weaknesses. We all have some. The existence of weaknesses in Hunter and Farmer Sales Wolves is one reason Sales Wolf Managers are so critical -- they recognize weaknesses, and put Sales Wolves in the correct roles where they can thrive. Then, they provide proactive sales coaching to help them achieve their highest possible results.

Exploit strengths and minimize weaknesses.

We have identified the importance of recognizing strengths and weaknesses among your Sales Wolves to help them best achieve their potential. The primary strengths and weaknesses of a Hunter Sales Wolf and a Farmer Sales Wolf are quite consistent.

victor-xok-1185497-unsplashThe primary strength of a Hunter Sales Wolf is the ability to overcome rejection. In someone who is task- rather than people-oriented, this is especially powerful.

A weakness of the Hunter Sales Wolf is a lack of desire or commitment to providing the care required to keep long-term Clients satisfied. Hunter Sales Wolves like “bright, shiny objects” - they have short attention spans and are constantly on the lookout for their next big Client.

The primary strength of a Farmer Sales Wolf is the ability to engage accounts repetitively without boredom. The Farmer’s ability to build strong relationships and recognize opportunity for increased, repeated sales is powerful. Conversely, Hunters would want to pull their eyes out paying attention to and remembering the small minutiae that is critical to the success of the Farmer.

A weakness of the Farmer Sales Wolf is often cold call rejection. They spend their time and energy focusing on relationships. The direct rejection of a cold call can be especially difficult for Farmer Sales Wolves to take.

You are much more likely to maximize results for Hunter and Farmer Sales Wolves by putting them into sales roles that exploit their strengths while minimizing these weaknesses in particular.   

The right mix is powerful.

Resist the urge to develop “super sales roles” where hunting and farming are combined. This typically leads to less-than-optimal results. Most salespeople in sales are in the wrong professions and / or improperly managed.

When you find, attract, hire, and retain Hunter and Farmer Sales Wolves for your organization, you get the best of both types of sales talent.

Put the Hunters and Farmers into the correct sales roles to exploit their strengths and minimize their weaknesses, and the results are powerful.

Despite the fact that sales personality testing has become incredibly popular, relevant, and valuable,  there are HR reps or hiring managers who think they have the “knack” for identifying sales talent without sales personality and aptitude testing. This errant belief is extremely dangerous.

Sales personality testing is the only way to definitively identify whether someone is a Hunter or Farmer Sales Wolf. I see so many sales organizations with ad hoc sales hiring strategies where low performers weed themselves out, that I am skeptical of prior sales experience. Prior sales experience is not necessarily a predictor of future sales potential.

Hire only the best salespeople -- Sales Wolves. Find and nurture the right combination of Hunter and Farmer Sales Wolves and put them in the correct roles so they can thrive. Install Sales Wolf Managers to lead, coach, and nurture them so they achieve their best. The profits will come.

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