Every sales executive dreams of having a stable of hunters – especially during a recession – yet how do you identify, motivate and keep them on board?

When it comes to sales reps, you could say there are two kinds of employees – hunters and farmers. Hunters live to uncover and seize new opportunities while farmers are better suited to up selling and cross selling to an existing client base.

While both are invaluable to a company, when it comes to surviving in lean times, the hunters are being hunted more than ever because of their ability to create new opportunities and see them through to profitability.

As a sales executive, you know you need to cultivate an environment that will enable the hunter to thrive, despite a challenging economic climate that presents fewer leads and has created slower sales cycles.

While experience and instinct has taught you what makes a good sales rep, it's not always easy to identify the characteristics that differentiate the hunter from the farmer.

Based on extensive research conducted with sales professionals over close to a decade, what follows are the 12 traits Target Teams has uncovered of the sales hunter.

Along with outlining the pros and cons of each characteristic, you'll also find helpful tips on how to manage and retain the hunter so that they are working to their full potential for their careers and your bottom line.

1. Hunters like to solve problems on their own and on the fly.

Pro: the autonomous sales rep will close the deal with little handholding.

Con: team collaboration can present a challenge.

Tip: break down the responsibilities of the team to ensure the hunter is still able to own and drive part of the effort.

2. Hunters like to lead whatever projects are on their plates.

Pro: they will successfully lead and execute sales initiatives.

Con: they can present a challenge to the manager who is trying to lead the team.

Tip: provide opportunities for the hunter to independently manage projects and ask them to demonstrate the results in a public forum to the manager and the executive team. This will allow the hunter to gain public recognition without usurping the role of the manager.

3. Hunters want (and need) to be around people because they thrive on the energy of others.

Pro: they naturally gravitate toward meeting new people and initiating cold calls and are comfortable addressing a larger audience at the prospect's site.

Con: if this hunter works from home or is based in a small regional sales office, they will feel disconnected and are more likely to disengage.

Tip: Find a reason to bring them into corporate headquarters several times a quarter and arrange for meetings and other interactions with colleagues and executive personnel. Also, be sure to regularly check in with them on a personal level as hunters appreciate and come to rely on their 1:1 personal connection with their manager.

4. Hunters like working on a lot of different projects at the same time.

Pro: they can successfully manage more territories and service more clients.

Con: they may interrupt existing processes and defined roles in their pursuit of juggling lots of activities simultaneously.

Tip: provide a wider, well-defined territory so that the hunter can tackle lots of projects without negatively impacting other staff.

5. Hunters like change.

Pro: they'll easily adapt to change whether it's ushered in by internal or external forces.

Con: they will get bored with routine.

Tip: include changes in the hunter's role every 12-18 months for renewed enthusiasm.

6. Hunters have a strong sense of urgency.

Pro: they want sales to close quickly. No prodding required from their management team.

Con: their patience is tested when it comes