If you’re a small or medium-sized business that is not currently utilizing the unique skillset of a sales “farmer” (commonly known as an account manager), you are most likely not maximizing your top-line revenue. While sales “hunters” are justifiably highly coveted for their ability to expand your client list, many companies fail to correctly value, retain, and motivate salespeople who can keep their current clients happy. Here we’ll examine just how to identify, hire, and utilize talented account managers that can maximize all the business you DO have.


To start, let’s examine what makes a great farmer. When people want to hire a farmer, they look for someone who can manage and expand upon existing relationships. In today’s ultra-connected world, where sales hunters have infinite ways to connect with new clients, we need farmers to make those connections personal.

So, how do great farmers do this? First, they build trust by connecting with everyone from the clients’ team, and create solid relationships top-to-bottom. Then, they regularly and generously listen to the clients’ needs, questions, and concerns, and seek solutions for those specific problems to make the client feels safe, secure, and in good hands. Finally, they know how to upsell and maximize these accounts by creating a direct line from the concerns their client has expressed to them to the products offered.

Thus, when interviewing candidates, we want to look for amicable, understanding individuals who feel familiar, reliable, and helpful.


It’s also helpful to examine the personality differences between sales hunters and sales farmers to look for the exact personality type we’ll need. According to specific research on this topic, sales hunters are typically promotion-focused, and sales farmers are more likely to be prevention-focused. This means that hunters are motivated to achieve goals, and farmers are motivated by avoiding losses.

Outlined in research by Halvorson and Higgins in the Harvard Business Review, the personalities of great farmers were described as follows:

Prevention Focused (Farmers):

  • Work deliberately and carefully
  • Accurate and detailed
  • Always prepared for worst-case scenarios
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills

Promotion Focused (Farmers):

  • Risk-averse
  • Work slowly and deliberately
  • Get stressed by quick turnarounds and tight deadlines
  • Don’t think outside the box
  • Stick to what they know

Therefore, we can ask prospective candidates questions and score their resumes for clues regarding specific strengths and weaknesses to help scope out top-level farmers. 


If you can identify this personality type and these traits in a candidate, you’ve likely found yourself a farmer. But to make sure you get the most out of a great farmer and retain them over time, you’ll have to consider how you align their goals with their “motivation to avoid losses.” The best way to keep your sales farmer happy and motivated is to offer stability through an even work-life balance and career progression opportunities while avoiding long hours, high-pressure situations, and unorthodox methods or motivational tactics.

Do you need additional help identifying the traits of great salespeople, managing their distinct personalities, or motivating them to maximize their talents? Then, consider contacting OSR Manage, experts in all things MSP sales, to guide you towards building a top-notch team.