March 3, 2018


When interviewing prospects for sales roles, you can sometimes spot who might obviously make a great inside sales farmer, and who might make a great outside sales hunter. The farmer has a nurturing, empathic way about her. The sales hunter has an unmistakable intensity or drive. You can also tell from the way she talks to you that she possesses closing sales techniques.

However, what if it’s not obvious – which is the case in most interviews? Or what if you want to confirm your gut instinct? What difference does it even make?

As I address in my book Close Deals Faster: The 15 Shortcuts of the Asher Sales Method,  both types of salespeople are necessary to truly scale. In most small businesses, the proprietor acts as both: she hunts for the business initially and continues to nurture the relationship to get repeat business and referrals. In the midsize or enterprise world, this is not workable. A division of labor is necessary.

Why farmers don’t need great closing sales techniques

Farmers perform excellent customer service to keep customers happy. They often have to hold their hands and walk them through issues. This results in strong relationships where the customers trust the salesperson enough to easily re-order and refer friends and colleagues.

The same dynamic occurs with inbound leads provided by marketing. Inside sales farmers usually have an informed, interested person on the other end of the line so she simply has to provide an excellent experience and nurture the deal through subsequent touches. This is in contrast to the outside sales hunter, who might be dealing with someone who doesn’t know their brand or that the product or service being offered even exists. That makes it tougher to sell.

The main differences in personality traits required for each role is the farmer must be empathetic, while the hunter must be persuasive. This makes the need for closing sales techniques greater in the hunter.

Now, it doesn’t hurt for the inside sales farmer to also have some closing skills, but that should not be the primary focus of their training. The outside sales hunter must practice his or her closing sales techniques often until they can be used naturally and effectively.

By hiring excellent farmers, all the hard work hunters do can be leveraged to the fullest. Seventy percent of customers leave because they feel neglected, not because of issues with a product or service. Farmers provide the attention that hunters find difficult to provide.

How to find farmers

The Advanced Personality Questionnaire is the best tool to uncover the traits which point to  excellent farmer potential. When a candidate takes the assessment, which only takes about 25 minutes, it plots their scores against the ideal ranges for over 20 sales-related jobs.  Hunters and farmers are distinguished easily, and you can rest easy knowing you are hiring the right person.

For more information about the APQ as well as sales training options for both farmers and hunters, please contact us.