Successful Sales Strategies – Hunters and Farmers

Sales Hunters look for prospects that are fully qualified and ready to buy. Sales Farmers may start even before a buyer had a need and will develop a relationship so that when the prospects are ready to buy, these sales can be harvested. Smart sales managers use hunter strategies for buyers who have a need and are well educated on their offerings, and to use farmer strategies to develop prospects for later sales. This is obviously more important for major or complex sales than for small sales.

· Needed – Sufficient Marketing Contacts Before a Major Sale

Major sales prospects need 2-7 contacts to make a buying decision even when they have a fully qualified need. The combination of sales contracts ranging from advertising to telemarketing or field sales contacts are necessary to provide the information and confidence that a particular solution will satisfy what a major sale customer needs.

The term for the effect of these contacts is called “marketing gravity” or “presence.” They are typically a mix of sales contacts, advertising, direct response and other marketing channels. Whether they are inside, field or online, the sales people are the harvesters of these contacts. In that same language a “Hunter” or “Gatherer” is one who finds a decision maker who has a need and all but one or two contacts are satisfied. A “Farmer” is one who makes the contacts until the need arrives, and/or finds those with a need, makes the sufficient contacts and reaps them (before a hunter finds them).

· Farmers Take the Long View for a Full Pipeline

If you do the farming well, the prospects come to you with the trigger need satisfied and the contacts satisfied, and thus ready to buy. A fresh cob of corn looks pretty simple until you see the effort and the size of the tractor to takes to get it to you. Hunters look at the cob of corn, farmers see the process. A full sales pipeline needs both hunter and farmer efforts.

· Combining Hunter and Farmer Strategies

To bypass the contacts or gravity built by the farmer in a one or two contact sales effort, you will only reap those prospects others have prepared. There are usually a limited number of prospects in any population ready for a one or two contact hunter. There are usually far more prospects with a trigger-need who must to be farmed, but to avoid loss to a hunter you need a positive relationship with them. If you plan hunting and farming as part of your sales effort, you will reap even more. This is what you get in a well-integrated marketing sales effort.

This above understanding is why it can be effective to make 3-8 telemarketing calls to a prospect provided every contact builds gravity and positive relationship. Other channels such as direct mail or emails can help much in increasing the gravity for a telemarketing effort. Otherwise these contacts are not only wasted, but with improper voice and mails, they can work against you.

· The Hunter Turned Farmer by Default

So the key is to recognize in your prospecting efforts that just because a prospect does not buy in one or two contacts does not mean that there is not a sale potential, provided they have a need. If they have a need, but their number of contacts is not satisfied, and you give up early, you will give that sale to your competitors. In that case your hunter efforts were actually farming steps for the one who got the sale.

Copyright 2008 Donald Mann. All rights reserved.

Don Mann is CEO of RiteMann Consulting Inc.; a company that helps businesses improve sales, profits, cash flow, people effectiveness and innovation, and is located in the Wilmington DE area.

He has delivered solid results in organizations ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 by leveraging best practices across industries. This includes global businesses in financial services, manufacturing, chemicals, distribution and high tech industries, and well as governmental, military and community organizations. His results include developing and improving highly productive and lean organizations with improved sales and profits, more rapid responsiveness, reduced stress and renewed focus on customer delight.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *