Sales Hunter or Sales Farmer?

sales hunter or sales farmer

Should You Hire a Sales Hunter or Sales Farmer? The Answer Will Determine Your Sales Performance

A Brief Case Study

“A few members of our leadership team doubted there was a difference between sales farmers and sales hunters … there is no doubt now!”

What type of salesperson produces the most revenue in your business? Do you need hunters, farmers, prospectors, trappers, gatherers, or some mixture of these? How do you know which approach is most effective for your business? Even if you do already know the answer, how do you recognize those traits in the next salesperson you hire?

These are just a few questions hiring managers need to ask before attempting to build a highly productive sales force. A company looking to increase new business probably needs sales hunters. The sales hunter profile truly enjoys the pursuit of new leads and customers. They are always in the field and on the hunt. Sales farmers on the other hand, enjoy cultivating the business relationships already available. If you’re company is more mature and your key to success is retaining your current customer base, and building relationships, a sales farmer will be more aligned and satisfied with the work.

Companies that use the AcuMax Index to hire the right fit have discovered that sales hunters and farmers are wired very differently. Wiring is innate, not learned or acquired through training or experience. This means that sales farmers cannot be trained to be sales hunters. Sales hunters will be restless holding down a desk job or simply taking orders from existing customers.

Pacific Hospitality Group Experiences Record Sales After Using AcuMax

Pacific Hospitality Group (PHG) is a client of AcuMax that has followed this recipe for sales success. PHG owns and manages seven hotel properties in Southern California. In addition to providing top-of-the-line accommodations for their guests, they also make events such as weddings, anniversaries, conventions and corporate functions special and noteworthy in a highly competitive resort market. A tribute to their success in this respect is the fact that their revenues for these events have been dramatically increasing every quarter for the last three years. A primary factor for this success has been identifying the traits of their most effective sales personnel and obtaining more of the same when hiring new people in new markets.

Dave Gerdes, the Vice President of Sales of PHG has been driving hotel sales activity for over 34 years. He has been in the business long enough to know that every property is different in terms of maturity and opportunity, and that the same sales approach would not work in all situations.

He recognized that its sales force was not producing at the level they required, so he decided to develop an internal program to develop salespeople. Every sales person in the program was asked to take the AcuMax assessment, which takes, on average, only five (5) minutes to complete. With the help of AcuMax, they identified the two most common sales profiles in their organization – sales farmers and sales hunters.

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Gerdes understood that the PHG brand was evolving in most new markets and would certainly benefit from a more aggressive sales style that is typically described as a “sales hunter”. Dave came to this conclusion after analyzing the AcuMax Index results of every sales representative in PHG.

The AcuMax Index allowed PHG to identify the traits of the most (and least) successful sales people working for them in a matter of minutes. The reporting features of AcuMax then allowed them to identify and take advantage of employee inherent strengths, compensate for their challenges and select the best sales personnel going forward based on a proven track record of what worked the best for their organization.

From these results, Dave was able to determine the markets in which a sales farmer could do just as well as or better with existing customers, and the markets where a sales hunter was needed for true business development.

Moving forward, PHG is and will be trending towards hiring sales hunters. Dave’s rationale is simple and compelling.

In established markets, sales people tend to receive more than they pursue. In those cases, it is more about managing and maintaining relationships. The focus changes, however, for new and changing markets. PHG’s expansion is directing us into new markets at a time when the hotel industry is doing quite well and our sales hunters are leading the charge. It also positions PHG well in the future for the inevitable downturn in a cyclical hotel industry when hunters will still be operating more in their comfort zone than will farmers. AcuMax gave us a tool that helps us understand our markets and our personnel and to better match the two. We use it every day.

Now, all PHG sales applicants are given the AcuMax Index, and its recruiters only refer for hire those applicants meeting the sales hunter profile developed by PHG. Why the emphasis toward hunters? One senior leader in that organization said there was no difference between sales hunters and sales farmers from a productivity perspective. The numbers tell a different story.

Case Study Results

sales hunters and farmers

Over a three-year period, one PHG property hired 23 salespeople. In the 2nd quarter of 2015 they compared the productivity of their sales personnel according to their AcuMax profile. Of the 23 sales people, 10 were sales farmers and 13 were sales hunters. What they discovered was eye-opening.

Of those hired through the 2nd quarter of 2015 – only one (1) of the 10 sales farmers had been productive and still remains employed by PHG. Ten 10 of 13 sales hunters have been productive and are still meeting their goals with PHG.

Although hotel general managers retain ultimate hiring authority – it is clearly understood that sales hunters best meet their current needs for producing new business, and PHG tries to hire accordingly. Their results:

  • Increasing sales revenues
  • Higher average booking rates
  • More employees meeting or exceeding sales goals
  • The best sales quarter ever in their history
  • Lower turnover in all departments

Every Organization Can Improve

Distinguishing the sales profile required for success in your organization is the first step to solving the problem of lower than desired sales performance. Hiring only the candidates that match the require profile is the next step.

There are many factors to consider and you could spend tens of thousands of dollars in market testing and analysis, comparative analytics, and sales training to develop a theory of what might be the best sales approach for your product, your company and your people – or you could just get AcuMax.

Learn how the AcuMax Index can help your organization to create high producing sales force. Contact Us or call us today at 844-228-6291.

The AcuMax Index is the only assessment that measures and reports on human wiring — helping managers and executives at all levels to hire with confidence and effectively motivate, engage and develop talent.