Sell to Win

What’s the difference between hunter, farmer, and trapper sales personas?

Jacob Thomas
Contributor, Sell to Win
Jacob Thomas
Contributor, Sell to Win

There are a million different ways to make a sale, but all of them fall into one of three categories: Sales you hunt, sales you farm, or sales you trap.

The key to success in sales is to figure out which strategy fits your reps best; and then find ways to put them in positions to succeed. So that's what we're going to talk about in this article! Keep reading to learn about Hunter vs Farmer vs Trapper sales personas and how you can get the people who fall into these three categories to work together.

What is a hunter sales persona?

As their name suggests, hunters go out and hunt for prospects, then work their magic to turn said prospects into sales. These people are highly motivated (usually by commissions) and don't mind working independently. In fact, most of them prefer it that way.

Hunters have the ability to quickly earn prospects' trust and close deals at a consistent clip. But they generally don't excel at building long-term relationships with customers.

Typical duties: Prospecting for new leads, implementing cold outreach campaigns, qualifying potential customers, performing product demonstrations, overcoming objections, negotiation.

Potential job titles: Sales Development Representative, Business Development Representative, Field Sales Representative, Account Executive, etc.

What is a farmer sales persona?

Farmers don't enjoy prospecting and negotiation duties like hunters do. They'd rather spend their time nurturing existing customer relationships. The goal? Increase customer loyalty and retention, while identifying potential upsell and cross sell opportunities.

Professionals that fall into the farmer persona category really care about customer success and relish the opportunity to help customers realize the full value of their company's products.

Typical duties: Onboarding new customers, convincing customers to renew their contracts, teaching customers about product usage, updating customers on new features.

Potential job titles: Account Manager, Account Representative, Customer Service Representative, Customer Success Associate, Client Success Manager, etc.

What is a trapper sales persona?

Finally, we have trappers. These individuals have a deep understanding of their target audience and work to meet potential customers where they are.

In other words, trappers use inbound marketing techniques to bring buyers to them.

They may write blog posts using SEO best practices. They might shoot videos and upload them to YouTube. And they definitely participate in social selling, which means an understanding of LinkedIn, Facebook, and similar networks is a must.

Trappers also excel at gathering social proof, such as testimonials and case studies, so that they can use these pieces of content to close more deals.

Typical duties: Creating content for every stage in the buyer's journey, soliciting testimonials and reviews, building trust with prospects, educating potential customers.

Potential job titles: Sales Associate, Director of Marketing, Marketing Manager, Marketing Specialist, Content Marketer, Content Strategist, etc.

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How hunters, farmers, and trappers can work together

Now that we've covered the three main sales personas, let's talk about how you can get them to work together to boost sales and propel your company forward:

1. Identify the sales personas of your reps

As a sales manager, you spend a lot of time thinking about your company's customers. It's only natural. If you don't understand what makes them tick, you won't be able to devise effective sales strategies. But you need to take time to think about your sales reps, too.

Who are they? What motivates them? What are they good at and what do they struggle with? These questions will help you learn their sales persona: Hunter, farmer, or trapper.

Which of your reps are independent? Which of them have thick skin? And which of them are excited to meet new people to sell to on a daily basis. These are your hunters. Assign them prospecting, cold calling, and negotiation tasks.

Now, which of your reps are more comfortable working with current customers? Do they have deep product knowledge? Are they experts at building relationships? These are your farmers.

They should spend a majority of their time onboarding new customers, building relationships, and looking for upsell and cross sell opportunities.

2. Assign the right tasks to the right reps

Do you like football? Then you know that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers don't ask Tom Brady to play on the defensive line. Why not? Because he's the greatest quarterback of all time. Asking him to do anything but throw touchdowns would be a waste of his supreme talent.

You're a sales manager, not a head football coach. But you have a similar job in this respect: it's up to you to put your team in the best position to succeed.

Asking a hunter to perform farmer tasks, or vice versa, doesn't accomplish this.

To build a successful sales team, you should assign your reps tasks that align with their strengths. This should be easy to do after identifying each of your reps' sales personas.

3. Regularly evaluate your sales process

At this point, you've separated your team into three categories: Hunters, farmers, and trappers, and given each of them tasks that align with their strengths. Now what?

Now you need to keep a close eye on your sales process to see if it's working. Are your sales reps effective in their roles? Are they meeting quota and increasing customer retention? Just as important, are they happy and comfortable? If not, their work will suffer.

Plus, studies show that it can cost as much as 200% of a departing employee's annual salary to replace them, depending on their job description. In other words, turnover is expensive. If your employees don't enjoy their jobs, they'll go find new ones.

4. Hire new personnel when necessary

As you evaluate your sales process, you may find that you have holes to fill.

You might have a few high-quality hunters who generate a lot of new business for your company. But you're short on farmers to help onboard new customers and keep them satisfied. Maybe the opposite is true and you need more hunters to increase pipeline.

Whatever the case may be, there will be a time when you need to hire new personnel. When that time comes, keep the sales personas we've been talking about in mind. That way you don't hire a farmer to do a hunter's job, or a trapper to fill a hunter's role, etc.

Final thoughts

The hunter versus farmer versus trapper discussion isn't about which sales persona is better. All three are important. Your job as a sales manager is to identify which of your sales reps fall into each category; then put them in the best possible positions to succeed.

Once you design a sales strategy that utilizes each sales reps' natural strengths, while minimizing their weaknesses, your department's close rate and retention metrics will improve.

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