Hunters, Farmers and Yesterday’s Inner-directd Selling Concept

There is so much in popular literature about sales people being either hunters or farmers. Indeed it has been repeated so often and their differences in personality delineated so clearly and convincingly that we need not repeat them here. Questioning the concept, I scanned six leading teaching textbooks on selling and sales management and only Zoltners mentioned the term hunter, while farmer was not mentioned at all. That Hunters and farmers approach, I suggest, is anchored in yesterday’s inward-looking selling concept.


The literature grounded in empirical evidence adopts the basic philosophy that selling should be an extension of the marketing concept. This implies that for long-term survival it is in the best interests of  the salesperson and their company to identify customer needs and aid customer decision-making by selecting from the product range those products that best fit the customer’s requirements.

Gas Pro 2010 Extract.001

It seems to me that today’s businesses must end the war between marketing and sales by focusing less on yesterday’s inward-looking selling concept and more on the outward-looking relationship marketing concept.  For Drucker was correct in saying, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

But perhaps the biggest challenge for most businesses is accepting Drucker’s conclusion that, “A business has only two functions-marketing and innovation.” The discussion would then advance from farmers and hunters and other questionable management practices to preparing the sales force to become tactical marketers that micro-differentiate their company in a way that mass marketing cannot.


4 thoughts on “Hunters, Farmers and Yesterday’s Inner-directd Selling Concept

  1. Jéan-Pierre Robinson says:

    ‘Knowing and understanding the customer above all else’ is an approach that many have a hard time grasping and even worse time adopting. I think many people think its one of those ‘too easy or too good to be true’ things.
    Conclusion: marketers can now retire the tractors, machetes, fertilizers and harvesters from their marketing warehouse.


  2. coverl says:

    In actual fact I have heard them referred to as `Horse Traders` and I think the comedian George Burns agreed as in his opinion; `the most importand thing in relationship selling is honesty and integrity. If you can fake them, you`ve got it made`. As I said – horse trading.




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