Thom Hartmann, author of the book Attention Deficit Disorder: A New Perspective, describes ADD as a genetic trait passed on for thousands of years to those who hunt. He says that a hunter is highly tuned-in to his surroundings and always on the look-out for threats or opportunities. Every ready for action or new prey, the hunter can change plans at the break of a twig; the hunter is aggressive, cunning, and highly focused. The hunter is creative, spontaneous, and gregarious. The kill is everything to the hunter.

Then there is the farmer who also has evolved over thousands of years. The farmer is patient and nurturing. He tends the fields and is capable of waiting for long term results. Farmers are friendly and work well with others, since farming is a group activity; the farmer values relationships and is not easily discouraged. The farmer can set long term goals and patiently go about managing the tasks necessary to achieve the objective.

Is this sounding familiar? There is a great debate in the business press about what types of sales people that are needed in sales organizations. Although most of us may have characteristics of both hunters and farmers, we probably lean one way or the other. Obviously, new business development favors the hunter characteristics, but after the account is sold, you had better get someone else to mind the store (like a farmer).

Ever met a sales rep that was incredibly likeable, showed up everyday, and patiently went about his business, but still did hit his sales objectives? I bet he was a farmer in a sales job that needed a hunter’s disposition.

Sales managers hire the wrong people all the time. Guess why? Most successful sales managers have farmer characteristics, since it requires great patience to build and manage a sales team. Sales managers often hire people that they like (i.e. like themselves). By the way, hunters get promoted to sales manager jobs because of their new business success, but they typically don’t last. Hunters are generally lousy managers since they are too impatient and aggressive and can’t figure out the farmers.

Make sure that you hire the right rep for the job. Look for hunter characteristics if you want new biz, or look for a farmer rep if you need someone to mind the details and the relationships at the large account. Hunters hunt and farmers farm.

John Bradley Jackson
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