Are you a hunter or a farmer? If you’re in sales, you’ve probably been asked that question or told that you need to spend more time hunting. “Coffee is for closers” has been the montage of the hunter’s society for decades. To my surprise, the term hunter is still a qualification in the majority of sales job descriptions. While the hunter approach worked several decades ago, the sales hunter approach no longer works today. When it does work, it’s for the short-term or for that matter a quick sale. I’m sure this article will cause debate (which is great). So let’s dive in.

I know what you’re thinking. In sales, you always need to be cold calling, hitting the streets, generating a full pipeline, and of course closing. Companies that embrace hunters don’t have patience. They want immediate results. It’s all about the numbers, numbers, numbers. They don’t have patience for farmers, and they think farmers are lazy. These companies truly believe that in order to be successful in sales, one needs to be a hunter. Um, no you don’t. It’s not always about the sales profession. Customers are involved.

The Hunter Exposed.

Let’s call it like it is: HUNTER = sales person PREY = customer.

A hunter is great at preparing for the sales call. They know their prey (I mean prospect). They get up early and dress up in camouflage. While out in the field, they stalk their prey (I mean prospect). Hunters use sales tactics by deceiving their prey by emulating the environment of the hunted (whether by scent, certain sounds/calls, or blending in with the environment). Did I mention that hunters are terrible at asking questions? They usually shoot first. If the game is worth bragging about, hunters mount their trophy on a wall—so much for customer retention!

But what happens if a hunter is seen by their prey (I mean prospect)? The prospect flees.

Let’s call it like it is: HUNTER = sales person PREY = customer.

So, if I were a customer, I certainly don’t want someone with a hunter philosophy chasing me or hunting me down.

Today’s Market and the Economy.

The market and economy has drastically changed since the 70’s & 80’s (especially after the recession). Here are just a few reasons how the market is impacting sales teams:

  • Sales cycles require more contact to get meetings even with your better clients.
  • Today’s customers are less loyal in the past.
  • Clients have a decreasing willingness to try new products and services early in the product’s life cycle.

The famous phrase “Always Be Closing” doesn’t apply any more. The “hunters” philosophy no longer works in today’s sales environment. When it does, it’s a quick sale. By the way, one can still have a healthy sales pipeline, consistent sales, and excellent customer service without being a “hunter.”

The Sales Hunter Approach No Longer Works Today

The New ABC’s of Selling.

In today’s environment, sales professionals need to learn the new ABC’s of Selling: Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity. Dan Pink, author of “To Sell is Human” explains in this video.

Attunement: Understanding someone’s perspective.

Buoyancy: Sales people need to ask the question “Can you do this?” Why? They start summoning answers/reasons within themselves.

Clarity: Information overload society. Skill set today is to make sense of all this information. Problem-finding instead of problem-solving.

So in conclusion, the sales hunter approach no longer works today. If sales organizations adopt the new ABC’s of selling, they will have better customer retention and long-term growth.

Greg Hahn

Greg Hahn is known for entrepreneurial vision and translating vision into revenue generation and productivity, thriving in a diverse and fast-paced executive environment. Throughout his sales management career, he has led several sales teams toward positive growth. His most recent accomplishment was with The Blue Book Network. In just two years, he was able to reverse an under performing region to one of the top regions in the company in 2015. Greg specializes in online marketing including website consulting, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and social media marketing.