Sometimes labels are helpful because they can assist you in conjuring up a visual image. Every sales manager is familiar with the hunter and farmer names, widely used to refer to two well-known sales personality styles. The very names help to evoke a certain set of sales strengths and weaknesses. I thought I would devote this article to describing 7 very common sales styles. In addition to naming them they are accompanied by a brief description. Hopefully the combination of name and description will help you to visualize their sales styles also.
Hunters are assertive, outgoing, impatient and independent. They will tend to be results and goal-oriented and will have a drive for achievement. They will exhibit persuasiveness and will try to convince or ‘sell’ their ideas but will become more forceful and direct when sensing resistance. Their communication style should be thought of as ‘an iron fist in a velvet glove’. Their strengths are prospecting, closing and a sense of urgency. Their weaknesses are that they can be hard to manage and they tend to be weak with the details.
Farmers are outgoing, structured and non assertive. They are optimistic and enthusiastic individuals who will have a strong drive for a lot of people contact, combined with a need for a busy working environment supported by policies, procedures and guidelines. Their drives are directed towards helping other people. This is why they are quite effective in farming sales roles. They are very altruistic people and are conscientious ‘team players’. Being outgoing and poised communicators they can seem to be quite self-motivated and results driven, but they are not as assertive as they appear. Their strengths are that they are customer service oriented, they follow up well, they are helpful team players and very conscientious. Weaknesses are prospecting, closing and possibly needing too much support from management.
Hybrids are outgoing, structured and moderately assertive. They are optimistic and enthusiastic and will have a drive for a lot of people contact, combined with a need for a busy working environment supported by a structure. They demonstrate confidence when operating within policies, procedures and guidelines, but when encountering risk will involve a higher level of authority. They can be effective at prospecting and closing as long as they are not expected to be very assertive. They tend to be organized, systematic and thorough and so can be quite good at customer service aspects of sales. In essence, they combine some of the qualities of a hunter along with some of the qualities of a farmer. As such they are often very effective at sales roles that need to blend these two approaches. Strengths are organization, sense of urgency, persuasiveness and service orientation. Weaknesses are when a high level of assertiveness is required.
Driven Introverts are results-oriented perfectionists. They are motivated by a need to achieve and also a fear of failing. They are analytical, thorough and technical. Demanding of themselves and goal oriented they will push themselves hard. They tend to work well with numbers, facts or technical matters and can be quite effective in technical sales roles when selling to engineers or other technically oriented customers. When communicating they will be business-like, direct, consultative and professional. They tend to have the high assertiveness found in hunters but being reserved they tend to have difficulty with rejection. Their strengths are that they are very hard working, results oriented, organized and disciplined. Their weaknesses are prospecting and a tendency to over plan.
The Promotional is highly extroverted, moderately assertive and very independent. They have a strong drive for lots of interaction, especially when there are few guidelines and details. Very gregarious, they relate to others easily and can be effective at contacting prospects for the first time as long as they are not expected to be very assertive or to get into too much detail. Because of their optimism and poise they seem to be more confident and results oriented than they actually are. While good at making new contacts when assertiveness is not required they can have difficulty with harsh rejection. Their strengths are that they are highly social, optimistic and persuasive. Weaknesses are closing, lack of technical depth and organization.
The Technician is an exacting, very reserved person with a low level of assertiveness and a high degree of patience. They have a strong fear of failure and demonstrate a careful, thorough and craftsman-like approach. They are suited to very technical sales that are structured and supported by guidelines and procedures. Loyal and conscientious, they seek direction and follow it closely. Focusing heavily on details, they tend to work well with numbers, facts or technical matters and therefore are often found in highly technical sales environments. Their strengths are that they are organized, hard working reliable and conscientious. Weaknesses tend to be that they can require a lot of support and structure, situations needing high assertiveness and tendency to get too bogged down in the details.
These individuals are outgoing, patient and non assertive. Amiable, relaxed and tolerant they get along comfortably with just about anybody. Approachable and reassuring, they are easy to get to know, to get along with and to like and are adept at getting others to open up and talk about themselves and their concerns. This style can be quite well suited to routine oriented sales positions such as many customer service kinds of roles. Sales activities needing assertiveness or an independent sense of urgency can be areas of weakness. Strengths are a service orientation, patience, likeable, a team player. Weaknesses are areas needing some assertiveness such as closing and prospecting and can need too much support and direction.
The seven styles above are by no means an exhaustive list. There are many other sales styles uncovered by our sales aptitude test including some that are not very common at all. If you enjoyed this article I would be very pleased to have a conversation with you. I would enjoy learning about your sales challenges and perhaps discussing the relative strengths and weaknesses of the sales styles that might work best in your organization.