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Are you a hunter or a farmer?

Traditional sales people are analogous to hunters. They stalk their “prey” in hopes of a “killing” that they can return back to the tribe as food (or more to the point, revenue).

In contrast, content marketers share the traits of farmers. They plant seeds and nurture crops that will eventually grow over time into food.

Both hunters and farmers have the same objectives and their own set of challenges.

But the farmer has a major advantage over the hunter.

While the hunters must go into new territories each day to stalk their prey, farmers stay in one place, planting new seeds and reaping the fruits of their efforts on the same ground they have toiled over already.

In return, the land they till becomes infinitely more valuable because it can consistently reap a harvest without the hits and misses of hunting.

It’s no different in business, as +Sean Jackson explains in today's post.
If you want to make more sales that turn into long-term customer relationships (and be happier doing it) then stop thinking like a traditional salesperson.
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18 comments
 
I disagree. I consider sales to be the noblest profession in the world. 

If you are selling a product that helps people, it's your job to get it in the hands of as many people as possible. The money you make from your sales allows you to improve your product and help more people. 

The problem with this analogy of the hunter and farmer is a farmer is still a salesperson. Farmers have to sell in order to run their farm. 

I like your articles. I'm sorry, but this one I dislike. I dislike how it begins with hating Mondays. If you love your job, Mondays are your favorite day of the week. If you hate Mondays, you're in the wrong job. Find a new one. 

Anyway, it doesn't matter what you call yourself...farmer...hunter...growth hacker...happiness officer - guess what? 

You're a salesperson. Every morning your sell yourself on having a reason to get out of bed. This very blog post is trying to sell an idea that being a salesperson sucks. The only thing that sucks, in my opinion, is the negative attitude this author has on the most effective skill anyone can have in all of human history.

(please don't delete my comment or consider this a troll post. I mean all of what I say with respect. I'm just sharing my thoughts on this. Thanks.)
 
I don't like the either/or explanation. I never have.

A good salesperson is both. One is not better. They both have their place and they both work together to build a harmonious economy.
 
I've been in sales for 20+ years and I've been successful. I've never liked the hunter aspect of this job - in fact some of my best sales came to me through prospecting with a well-written letter/invitation to be a part of something special.  Prospects called me -- wanting to buy.  Really?!!!  Ok - I guess I can sell you this.  I enjoyed this article - thanks for sharing.
 
+Raymond Duke Actually the post is not trying to sell you that being a "salesperson sucks" but that if you believe, like we do, that nurturing prospects is better than hunting for prospects, then we have a community of like-minded individuals you can join. 
 
I disagree with this article. Yes planting seeds and harvesting for potential prospects might seem more peaches and cream then going door to door trying to sell your product but if you have integrity, honesty and have mastered relationship building through personal face to face contact, then being in sales can be a glorious job. And the benefits you reap can be massive. It can be quite fun and grueling some days but I think it's totally unrealistic to think if I post the best content and hopefully get a good email list going (which can take years) then I can make a better living than hustling and going to seminars and events networking face to face. There is nothing better than meeting prospects face to face.
 
I understand what you're saying, and I agree with the nurturing of prospects being important. Where I still find the analogy off is the idea of one being better than the other. I believe hunting and nurturing are the same.

I don't say this to disagree for the sake of disagreeing. I'm contributing here to share ideas that're best for the growth of a business. 

Sharing content on social networks (like here on Google+) is like hunting, because you are "setting traps" for your program. You intend for people to read your post (the bait), and sign up for your community (bring them back to your "farm"). There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. That's how business works.

Again, I hope none of this is disrespectful. This is a topic I'm passionate about, so I feel a strong urge to share my beliefs. 

And about the idea of being a "salesperson sucks," it literally written in the headline. I'm sure you didn't mean for it to appear that way, but that's how I interpreted it. :)
 
Moral of the post: Even if you're a hunter, you'll outlast your competition if you learn to farm a little. 

Great reminder +Sean Jackson.  Thanks!
 
I think a similar comparison can be made between paid digital advertising (CPC, PPC etc.) vs Content marketing.

I like the idea of adding digital equity to your website in the form of content. It will last and help your domain authority grow. Paid advertising on the other hand (while important) does not lend itself to establishing organic rank which is what a good web presence should be founded on.
 
My dad was a farmer, so I completely relate to that mindset and subscribe to it more than the salesperson/hunter mentality.  I like the idea of cultivating prospects and nurturing them along.  It's more in line with my personality and comfort level.

But I know that I've had to adapt some aspect of the hunter to my self-marketing strategies.  And I as uncomfortable as I've been with it at times, it's produced much faster results than if I had just stayed stuck on the farm.
 
+Rich Coffman Excellent point!

+Janice Sakata-Schultze Yes, it can produce faster results, sometimes, and those results tend to be linear in nature. Content marketing however is more exponential - taking longer but yielding better results for the same effort.

The hard part is to break the cycle of "churn and burn" and spend the time building something of value for the long term.

Many sales organizations demand immediate results and are not as willing to give people the time it takes to nurture an audience. That is why being in sales can suck; the constant demand for immediate revenue and the processes that demand produces. 

Content marketers who are smart (as well as sales people that have a longer term outlook) know that it takes time and are not based on the quarterly dictates of a management team trying to meet their numbers.

Content marketing does produce results, period. But the timing tends to be longer. However it also creates a more tangible asset than the contact list a salesman builds. Why? Because the digital asset that contains the effort can exist outside of the person that created it.
 
My hippie is going to show through here, but I liked your farmer analogy for the thoughts and questions it arose in me. I would tweak it though by asking what kind of farmer do you want to be? (If your goal as a content marketer is to be a farmer.) Because there are many types of farmers and methods of farming...and it's not just about what they harvest, but the content of the seeds that they plant and the quality of the soil in which they germinate.

I think an alternative question is, Is my method of farming sustainable? Like industrialized sales and marketing, industrial agriculture's "bigger better faster" has shown it isn't. I'd venture to say that smart content marketing is more like organic farming--it requires a lot of care, listening to and knowing the land, the seasons and cycles but works with nature to honor the ecosystem, rather than trying to fight against it. All for the result of a better tasting, more nutrient rich product that people will come back for (and often pay more for). Just my $.02 though. 
 
Aren't you selling us this instant -  on the idea that the farmer has a major advantage over the hunter? Aren't we ALWAYS selling ... something? 

Selling is a survival/in-born skill.  We begin by selling our caretakers on the deal of "I cry. You feed me. I stop crying - okay?" then take it from there - for some, not that much farther ... lol

The key thing, I think, is authenticity. People trying to sell me on the idea they're in business but wouldn't dream to sell (me anything) I can spot even through a wintry morning's thick fog. It might leave me wondering what is so valuable that it must be kept secret, but after a fleeting moment it's time to move on.

Of farmers and hunters, the authentic has a major advantage - is how I see it. After that, yes, the farmer has an additional major advantage :-] 
 
+Beat Schindler The post is not about the value selling but in the process. To quote from the post...
"Sales people and content marketers share the same goal: generating revenue. The difference is in the tactics they use."
 
Passionate farmers are hunters, in the hunting season. Many hunters appear to be farmers. I believe you’ll find the same pattern regarding peoples in sales and marketing.
 
+Sean Jackson Announcing "Being a Salesperson Sucks" when you are "NOT trying to sell being a salesperson sucks" (answer to +Raymond Duke) - a cute way to deliver on your headline. Suck it does.
 
+Sean Jackson content marketing is a great way to build a following but also to leverage other people's influence and audiences as you found with that large deal with Verizon. 
 
+Sean Jackson You've confused being a salesperson with not selling, which indeed sucks.

Cultivating contempt for sellers...not so hot.
 
+Raymond Duke I agree with you. If you believe in your product or service, the instead of the hunter, I consider myself an "evangelist"..... spreading the good news.
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