Any discussion of the personality of sales people very quickly comes around to the well-used terms of Sales Hunters and Sales Farmers. Because of the widespread reference to these two sales person personality types I have previously devoted entire articles to each. There are many other sales person personalities, and while I normally avoid these labels, I do find it interesting that there is a scarcity of names for some of the many other styles.
I wanted to write about a style that could best be called a Hunter-Farmer Hybrid. Admittedly, this is not an elegant handle, but it is an appropriate name given the strengths and weaknesses of sales people with this sales personality style.
As is often the case when I attempt to describe sales person personality, it is useful to refer to the 4 main trait drive scales below.
Assertiveness – Need for control, competitiveness, need to win, ego drive.
Sociability – Need for interaction with others, empathy and persuasiveness, extroversion.
Patience – Need for stability and predictability, comfort with repetition and routine.
Dependence – Need for rules, structure, guidelines, approval, security and clearly defined direction.
The Sales Hunter
Sales Hunters, of course, are high on assertiveness, high on sociability, low on patience and low on dependence. This combination of traits is why they can absorb rejection while prospecting and why they are very risk oriented, independent, resistant to rules and impatient with a sense of urgency.
The Sales Farmer
Sales Farmers, on the other hand, are low on assertiveness, high on sociability, low on patience and high on dependence. This trait combination is why they tend to be warm and helpful but not pushy. They meet and relate to others readily, tend to stay within the guidelines and follow direction, are good at follow up activities, and tend to be organized. As well, they are team players that are eager to help others.
The Hunter-Farmer Hybrid
On two of the trait drive scales, Sociability and Patience, the Hunter-Farmer Hybrid is the same as the others. Like the others ‘hybrids’ are very outgoing, empathetic, people oriented and persuasive. As well, ‘hybrids’ have a sense of urgency, need variety and a fast paced working environment.
It is on the other two trait drive scales, Assertiveness and Dependence that the Hunter-Farmer Hybrid is different from both Hunters and Farmers. On these two scales ‘hybrids’ are a blending of the two styles and therefore have a mid-range level of Assertiveness and a mid-range level of Dependence. When we take these four trait drives together it means that the ‘hybrid’ can be very effective in sales roles that combine the requirements of both sales hunting and sales farming. Put another way they are ‘quite well suited’ to both sales hunting and sales farming while not necessarily being ‘perfectly suited’ to either. Some examples of roles for which they are suited:
- Roles requiring the rep to not only open accounts but also to service and maintain those accounts.
- Sales hunting roles requiring a lot of follow up and attention to detail in order to close the sale.
- Sales hunting roles where very high assertiveness is not really necessary.
- Sales hunting roles with a long selling cycle.
- Technically oriented sales roles.
- Farmer sales roles where a little more assertiveness would assist with up-selling, cross-selling and getting deeper into the account.
- Many account management sales roles.
There are in fact many different types of sales roles to which these ‘hybrid’ types are highly suited. This has long been the case since there have always been a high percentage of sales roles that needed this type of ‘dual’ focus on what are, in sales personality terms, contradictory demands.
Hybrids in Sales Hunter Roles
Today, even clearly defined sales roles that require a pure business development focus have evolved in ways that necessitate a style more aligned with that of these ‘hybrids’ rather than that of the pure ‘hunter’ style. For example, the requirement to use contact management software and other common sales tools and technologies can in many ways be very demotivating to the highly independent nature and big egos of pure sales hunters, whereas ‘hybrids’ are very comfortable with this kind of ‘structure’. The requirements of social selling are just another example of the same issue.
Still another factor that has changed the traditional hunter role in favor of ‘hybrids’ has to do with the way prospects now interact with sales people during the sales process. The high assertiveness of sales hunters can now actually be a detriment when interacting with some prospects, and the hunter’s impatient frustration at having to keep following up in order to get a decision can mean they give up on the prospect too early, therefore losing out on sales that the hybrid will get simply by ‘hanging in there’ longer.
What to Consider when hiring Hunter Farmer Hybrids
- Like many very outgoing types they create the impression that they are more assertive than they are. Be conscious of this in relation to how assertive one needs to be in your sales role.
- Much like sales farmers, when they are new to a role, ‘hybrids’ tend to prefer to be given clear support and direction and then once familiar they prefer a far greater degree of latitude.
- Like the typical sales farmer they have a fairly strong streak of altruism in what motivates them. Being recognized for their contribution to the success of their team will be an effective motivator.
- Like sales hunters they are motivated by incentives (bonus, commission) yet they also have quite a strong fear of failure so guarantees that minimize the risks will be effective.
I do hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions about hunter farmer hybrids or would like to learn more about SalesTestOnline.com I would appreciate hearing from you and would be pleased to discuss your specific challenges.