My coaching client Daniel asked me, “Bill, are you a Hunter or a Farmer? Do you constantly prospect for new business, or do you focus on the clients you currently have?”
I replied, “I’m more of a Trapper. I like to apply the principles of value-centered marketing so people see me as a resource and come to me for further assistance.”
The Hunter Sales Persona
The Hunter is constantly on the lookout for new prospects. They go to many networking events, join other types of organizations, use LinkedIn and other social media platforms to reach out to people, make a lot of calls, and ask for referrals on a regular basis.
An effective Hunter will track down every lead to its logical conclusion. They find it easy to be persistent, but rarely cross the line into pushiness.
The Hunter will thrive in a role where they must generate their own sales and where the problem they can fix isn’t always evident to the prospect. For example, a financial professional may have to ask the right questions and teach the right things to get her prospect to realize there’s a gap in his financial plan.
Likewise, a social media expert or business consultant may have to help their prospects uncover pain that’s currently unknown -- but causing problems.
The Farmer Sales Persona
The Farmer is most comfortable fertilizing and watering existing relationships. They may have built a successful business with clients gained when another rep left the firm or with internal referrals from another part of their company. The Farmer rarely loses a client for lack of caring.
An effective Farmer is service-oriented and won’t run away from problems. They build a large number of business friendships.
Unlike The Hunter, The Farmer does not usually have the DNA to beat the bushes for leads and self-generate opportunities. The Farmer loves to nurture existing relationships. They will plant and nurture new seeds when handed to them (like interested prospects raising their hand to say, “I’m interested”), but won’t usually contact strangers to get a relationship going.
Typical Farmers are high-level customer service reps responsible for maintaining and growing relationships while keeping an eye out for new opportunities within the account. They are often found in inside sales and service operations.
The Trapper Sales Persona
The Trapper focuses on client attraction through marketing. They develop value-added tools to send to prospects and share on social media and often work to establish a high-profile reputation in their target market. They’ve also crafted a fine-tuned way to communicate their value in both concise and longer-form methods. For example, a Trapper likely has a client-centric LinkedIn profile that tells a good story and pulls people into their message.
The effective Tapper has probably embraced the power of SEO, YouTube videos, and great content. They’re adapt at generating various forms of social proof, such as testimonials and case studies.
The Trapper is usually a business owner, marketing manager, or business development manager. They don’t mind farming, but hunting does not appeal to them. Trappers are creative people who like to figure out the right bait for the right prey. Trappers become versed in the languages of attraction marketing and direct marketing.
Can You Change Sales Personas?
I’ve been in the world of sales, marketing, and business development (pick a name, any name) for over 30 years. It is rare to find someone who is truly well-developed in more than one of these personas. For example, my predominant persona is the Trapper. I enjoy determining my market, finding prospects, and crafting the right message to pull them in. As I’ve honed these skills, the less hunting I need to do -- although when I bring someone into my world, I still need to bring the sale to fruition. I’m a good Trapper, decent Farmer, and okay Hunter.
I no longer attempt to help companies turn Farmers into Hunters or Hunters into Trappers. While there may be some overlap in the DNA, the basic wiring is different for all three.
As you have probably already guessed, every industry, business model, and personal style will ultimately dictate the right blend of these three personas. Great marketing will bring people into your world, but you still have to “close the deal” so to speak. Sometimes they come into your world through marketing, but you have to keep tracking them until the time is right and they truly see your value.
If you’re a front-line salesperson, focus on cultivating the strengths of your sales persona rather than becoming a different one or imitating their approach. If you’re a sales leader or business owner, hire the personas that compliment yours and work together to build a fast-growing, profitable company.