Can Farmers Hunt?

For those of you who are pressed for time, the answer is, “Yes,” “No,” and “Maybe.” For those of you who’d like a bit more detail, here’s the definitive answer to every sales manager’s question, “How can I get my Farmers to hunt and prospect for new business?”

Different Strokes for Different Folks

To better understand why it’s impossible to provide one simple answer to this question, we need to have an understanding of human nature. We need to understand “personality.”

Your personality is a combination of your “temperament,” the qualities you’re born with, and your “character”, the experiences that you have in your formative years.

Have you ever wondered why two siblings who grow up in the same family environment and have many of the same life’s experiences can have such different personalities? I don’t know about your family, but I have two grown boys who are different as night and day. One of my boys would make a good salesperson and the other would make a good customer, and they’re not interchangeable!

The difference lies in their temperament, the basic qualities they were born with. As near as I can figure, whatever temperament someone is born with is a crap shoot and you never know what you’re going to end up with. Fortunately for me, I ended up with a sales-type temperament. I’m a Farmer.

Born Salespeople

I’m not a big believer in the concept of the “born salesperson.” I do believe that some people are certainly better suited than others for the role of a salesperson and the difference seems to come from differing temperaments.

Some people are born with the temperament to be Hunters, some have the temperament to be Farmers, and many are neither. So, what are you if you’re not a Hunter or Farmer? For convenience, I’ve labeled these other temperaments as Shopkeeper, Repairman, and Handyman, and all except the Handyman have a place in the sales food chain. The trick is in knowing where they fit.

The Hybrid Salesperson

While there are people who are pure Hunters and pure Farmers, I’ve discovered over the years that there are some people whose temperaments are such that they have an affinity for both selling styles. In other words, there are Hunters who are equally comfortable farming and Farmers who can and will hunt.

So, there’s the first answer to the question, Can Farmers Hunt? Yes, if they have the hybrid temperament that allows them to do so naturally.

The Maybe Factor

The “maybe” factor comes to play when we’re dealing with people who have a pure Farmer temperament. Because being a Farmer is one of the two basic selling styles, Farmers can be trained to hunt, and may do it, even though it’s not part of their basic temperament.

In other words, properly trained, managed, and coached, a Farmer “may” hunt but he’s not likely to do it well or willingly.

Doing What Comes Naturally

We all have things that we seem to have a natural penchant for doing. We all know guys who are sports jocks and no matter what sport they undertake they seem to do it well. These guys have a natural affinity, or temperament, for sports.

I, on the other hand, represent another group of people who, no matter how hard we try, are hopeless klutzes when it comes to most sports.

Personally, it’s difficult for me to engage in any sport without doing serious damage to myself and others. I simply don’t have the temperament for sports and therefore avoid getting involved because it’s certainly something that doesn’t come naturally to me.

When we naturally enjoy doing something, whether it is sports or selling, we generally do it well and enjoy it. The fact that we don’t have the natural temperament for something like sports or selling doesn’t mean that we can’t or won’t do it well, it simply means we’ll have to work harder at it if we’re to do it well.

Who Would You Rather Hire?

So, would you prefer to hire someone who has a natural inclination for selling or someone who can sell but ideally would prefer to be doing something else?

To me it’s a no-brainer. I’d rather hire the round peg to fill the round hole instead of hiring the square (or oval) peg.


Is there a type of salespeople who can’t or won’t hunt? No, every type of salesperson can hunt. The question is, Will they hunt?

You might be able to get some people with a Shopkeeper sales style to hunt but usually only under duress. For the most part, this is something that is very foreign to the person’s basic temperament and it is simply out of character for them.

Don’t even think about asking a Repairman or Handyman to hunt unless you threaten them with severe pain if they don’t.

Some Shopkeepers and most Repairmen and Handymen feel that hunting is simply too pushy, and they are hard pressed to ever do it.

Bottom Line

When you take the care to put the right person in the right job (the round peg in the round hole), he or she is more likely to do the job well. People who do their jobs well enjoy it.

Part of your job as a sales manager is to try to make as good a fit between the person and the job as possible. When you do that, you’re well on your way to building a strong, productive sales team.