White Paper: The Hunter/Farmer Paradigm Is Dead
How a New Breed of Sales Pros Can Change the Game
So-called experts claim that there are two types of business developers: Farmers and Hunters. You’re either one or the other. Consequently, you fit one type of sales position or the other: new account rep or current account rep. In my experience – and I have spent 30-plus years thinking deeply about sales – if you see everyone heading in the same direction on a topic like this, they are usually all wrong. Here’s why I think that everyone is confused about this one.
The guy who claims to have started the whole Hunter/Farmer discussion was a psychotherapist. There’s the first clue that this could be a bunch of hooey. Thom Hartmann proposed the Farmer/Hunter metaphor to explain the origins of what we today call Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD.
What it boils down to is that thousands of years ago we were all hunters. As agriculture developed, we gradually became farmers. (Stay with me here.) Over many centuries, most humans adapted to farming cultures. But some people retained the old hunter characteristics. Why? Because they had ADHD! What’s more, those of us who hunt today are the ones with short attention spans, apathy toward other humans, poor planning and organizational skills, a distorted sense of time, and high degrees of impatience and impulsiveness. To top it off, twice as many men as women suffer from this affliction.
Hey, Thom, wait a minute.
After a little further research, I learned that Thom is now a famous talk show guy. He has a son with ADHD who was told by another psychologist that he had a “brain disorder.” Hartmann considered that a bad label for anyone to bear.
So he created the Hunter/Farmer concept for his son and others to provide a less destructive way for them to see themselves: “No, Bobby, you don’t have a brain disorder, you’re a Hunter.” For that – and only for that – I give him a ton of credit.
But now let’s talk about salespeople.
I once heard a sales training company describe Hunters as “transactional-oriented cold-callers who deal with ‘default buyers’ where benefits are limited to narrowly framed needs.” Farmers were described this way: “They employ a ‘customer-centric’ method and sow seeds of trust while harvesting increased sales and loyalty.” (Please don’t stop reading. I’m not the one who said it.) Another enormous bunch of hooey!