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Are You a Hunter or a Farmer in the Promotional Products Industry?

A promotional products distributor sales rep who is considered a hunter is not afraid to cold call and go after new accounts. They can easily generate new leads and convert them to clients. A promo distributor sales rep who is considered a farmer is one who can cultivate relationships and grow deeper and wider within established accounts.

In a perfect world, a hunter and farmer will be on the same team, but we know this isn't always the case (sometimes there is not even a team!).  Whichever one you may be, there are opportunities to grow your business!



Salespeople, in general, are typically not detail-oriented. A hunter personality can really benefit by putting processes into place. Specifically, their prospecting process. Do you document your outreach in a customer relationship management (CRM) database? If you do not have CRM software, not to worry­ plain old-fashioned Excel will do the trick!


STEP 1:  Build Your List  

Capture the following in your CRM (or spreadsheet):

  • Company Name
  • Contact Name
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number
  • Date Contacted
  • Source (ie connected on LinkedIn)

STEP 2:  Block Time on Your Calendar to Prospect 

Where you are in your career will determine the amount of time you block. For veterans, I would suggest 30 minutes per week. For newbies, I would suggest 3-4 hours per week on dedicated prospecting. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 25 active prospects and a total list of 100 that are on your radar (new to the industry hunters may have up to 250 prospects). Mix up how you communicate with your prospects, one week it may be email then two weeks later a phone call or a direct mail piece. Be sure to mix up the day of week and even the time of day that you do your outreach.


STEP 3:  Set Google Alerts for Your Prospects

The prospecting block on your calendar can be used for research of your prospects (and their companies) as well. Google Alerts offers a free and easy way to uncover up to date information about your prospects. Is there a press release for the company you're targeting? Great! Not only does it give you content to discuss at an upcoming connection but it also gives you the name of who supplied the press release (a lead to add to your prospecting list).


STEP 4:  Track Everything 

Yes, you must track your activity with your prospects. I often joke that salespeople are like squirrels, dashing off to the next nearest object that grabs their attention. You must track and leave yourself a note about what you said on the last call or you will likely forget.



If you are a farmer and have the blessing of already working with established accounts, awesome! If not, you can still be a farmer and grow within your network.


STEP 1:  Schedule Growth Time on Your Calendar

Depending on where you are with your career, it may be 30 minutes per week or 3 days per week. Block this out just like you would if you have a doctor's appointment.


STEP 2:  Ask for Referrals

During your weekly grow time, plan on asking for a referral. Referral requests should not be scary; you are asking people who you already have a relationship with to consider sharing you as a resource. The worst they can say is no.


Start with a compliment to the established buyer. i.e. "I love working with you, is there anyone else at your company that is as awesome as you are that you'd recommend I reach out to?" Or, for an even stealthier approach - include a request for referrals in your signature line. You can say "Referrals are the best compliment, please share my information with your network."


Perhaps you are new to the industry and have very few accounts? Join a networking group such as Business Networking International (BNI) and ask your peers in the networking organization for referrals.


STEP 3: Specs Write Checks  

My friendly farmer, you have established accounts and you have their logos. Let's use it for free stuff to gift your customer with ideas year-round, not just the holidays. A best practice is to order two specs per week utilizing your preferred vendors (did someone say free spec?). Every Monday send a couple of logos out to your suppliers and start getting those in. Once they come in, add a personalized note and send it out to your customer.


STEP 4:  Track Everything  

Yes, the farmers need to track their efforts too. Whether you're reaching out to the referral lead you received or sending spec samples to clients, write it down and make sure you follow up.




About Our Guest Blogger 

Nicole McNamee is an industry veteran with 20 years in the top 1% of distributor sales professionals. In 2022 she decided to follow her passion to help others succeed in sales. She founded Nicole McNamee Consulting and works as a sales coach and Fractional VP to the promotional products industry.