Are You a Farmer or Hunter? in Sales is Misleading

The Traditional Sales Approach of ‘Are You a Farmer or Are You a Hunter?” is Grossly Misleading

By Michael Marshall, PhD

Those that refer to the traditional sales approach of ‘Are You a Farmer or Are You a Hunter?’ have fallen behind with this old concept or approach. 

It also indicates the individual’s lack of skills and expertise that are needed for business development especially in this new global business environment.

The farmer approach or mentality refers to those who like to nurture customers and clients with customer service and tending to their needs.  This is their main skills and personal comfort zone.

Sometimes it can be taken to the extreme and have a bad reference as ‘Are you just an order taker?’

The hunter approach or mentality refers to those who like to seek out sales within existing customers and clients and possibly seek out new potential customers and clients.

Those that are interviewing potential new hires in sales often ask, “Are You a Farmer or a Hunter’?

What is wrong with this concept is that those using it think that individuals and sales staff are only one of these approaches.

The real truth is that effective sales staff and effective sales/marketing management need to be both plus far more.

The traditional Farmer Approach of nurturing is needed to help customers and clients perceive you as caring for them and their needs and not just looking for sales. 

Remember, ‘People like to buy and not to be sold to’.

People want to feel that their needs are uncovered, recognized, viewed as important and tended to.

They want to feel that they have a special business relationship with you.

The traditional Hunter Approach is very sales oriented.  Seeking additional sales in existing customers and clients and possibly seeking new customers and clients is the main drive of this approach.

‘Cold Calling’ is a significant part of this approach.

It should be obvious that both strategies and approaches are needed to be effective in sales, marketing and business development.

The Farmers approach that nurtures is important to build business relationships that can help obtain internal business referrals and network to new sales opportunities. 

It can also be utilized to obtain referrals to other clients and customers. 

In addition, it can be utilized to obtain valuable market information, ideas and suggestions. 

It can help lead you to new niche markets and new applications.

The Hunters Approach is needed to instill the personal thrill and gratification of finding new additional business in existing customers/clients, discovering new niche markets and new applications and discovering new potential customers/clients:  Feeling comfortable in doing so is important.

‘Cold Calling’, speaking to new contacts, new potential customers, networking, seeking referrals, and traveling to new customers and clients are common tasks with this Hunters Approach.

But again, both approaches are needed within a sales and marketing person.

In addition, one must have skills in and be comfortable with, research and investigating.  These are the skills that are needed to do all of the above. 

Researching and investigating new niche markets, new applications and new potential customers/clients is very important.

This is a critical component of business development.

All efforts must be thoroughly integrated into the business organization and aggressively supported.

You will find that a research and investigating approach will help you network and get referred to new contacts, new niche markets, new applications and potential new customers and clients.  

This is Not the same as the traditional Hunters Approach of seeking new sales and ‘Do you want to buy?’

Obtaining special training and coaching in research and investigating skills and applying it to business development will help you grow the business.

‘Knowledge and competence is golden.  Many business organizations lack the gold and need far more of it.’

Feel free to contact me for more information.
Michael Marshall, PhD   (‘The Business Doctor’)
Tele. 920-734-8678
Personal website:

Michael has 25 years of business experience in numerous markets with a variety of products and services.  Prior to his extensive business career, he was a behavioral health counselor.
His education includes a PhD in business, MBA, BS degrees in psychology and social human behavior, Federal International Business Certification, and over 34 other advanced certifications in; business management, business development, sales, marketing, marketing communications, customer service, product management and development,  training and business  strategy.
Michael has written over 100 business subjects with 28 business articles published internationally.
His passion is ‘Business Development’ and ‘Creatively Finding Ways to Grow the Business’ using his psychology and behavioral health background and training.

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