Sales Prospecting 2018-05-21T21:42:44+00:00

Agriculture Sales Prospecting

Agriculture Sales Prospecting

A guide for sales professionals to grow their portfolios through sales prospecting, even in a down market. 

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Introduction

Sales Prospecting

There’s been a five-year lag in the ag industry, and salespeople have to be prepared to grow in the midst of it. The ag industry is also a zero-sum game, by virtue of the fact that there’s a limited amount of farmland available to a shrinking number of growers.

A down market doesn’t necessarily mean that growth is impossible. It makes it more difficult, yes, but if you’re armed with the right tools and tactics, growth is definitely possible.

This guide is specifically designed for ag sales people who are anxious to grow their portfolio through sales prospecting and edge out their competitors. We’ll cover the following topics:

  • How to kickstart your sales prospecting efforts in way that’s easy for you to manage
  • Specific tactics that will help you sell in rural areas
  • The kinds of data you need to be successful
  • Three proven tactics that can help you get around the block of the “cold call”
  • An example of a data-led sales conversation, from start to finish

With this information, the right sales tools and, hopefully, an approachable sales prospecting method, you’ll be able to grow your portfolio, regardless of how the market responds.

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How to Kickstart Your Prospecting Efforts

Prospecting new farmer customers can be time-consuming, and you may be tempted to deprioritize or avoid it. But if you want to fight off attrition and churn, you can’t rely on the market to go in a certain direction.

If you want to grow, you’ve got to put in the effort.

Many of the salespeople we work with aren’t doing any sales prospecting right now. And it makes some sense.  Sales prospecting is a time-consuming effort, and if you’re the only one responsible for finding and selling to customers in your territory, it’s easy for prospecting to fall by the wayside.

And for those that are prospecting, they’re likely using a “top-only” approach that involves only contacting large farms with higher price points.

On the one hand, this approach makes sense. If you have a limited amount of time to invest in prospecting, you want to get the most “bang for your buck.”

But there are several problems with this strategy:

  • It creates more competition for you. You may be going after these high-dollar clients, but so is everyone else. That means you may be drowned out among all the other messages, making each connection less effective.
  • It’s impersonal. In an attempt to cut through the noise, you and your competitors make your emails more provocative in order to get their attention. This ultimately becomes a race to the bottom, fostering inauthentic communication and making it difficult to build a relationship with the farmers.
  • It leaves out a large, untapped pool. Farms growing fewer than 500 acres rarely receive the onslaught of solicitations that the larger farms do. While their price point is definitely lower, the lack of competition could make closing deals with these farms easier.

Good news for you: there’s a better way to prospect than what’s been done in the past. The combination of data, grower relationship information, and targeted, focused communications can help you invest your time strategically and yield more results.

We like to call this the data-driven, “bottom-up” approach to sales prospecting. Instead of constantly hitting large farms with email after email, cold call after cold call, you can use data to begin integrating smaller farms into your prospecting, build personalized connections with them and increase your chance of closing deals.

The “Bottom-Up” Approach to Selling to Farmers

With the right data, you can start tapping into the pool of smaller farms today. Here are four steps to get started:

Step 1: Start by gathering data on all the farms in your territory.

The first step is to gather all the data you can. This not only is going to help you build your strategy, but it’ll help you personalize communications and tailor your product offerings when you’re later in the process.

Some important data you’ll need to gather:

  • Name, address and county
  • Operator status
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Crops and acres grown
  • Livestock type with her size
  • Gross Farm Income
  • Field boundaries
  • Farmstead location
  • Related grower information
  • Contact information for those related growers

Step 2: Organize your data into a hierarchy.

Once you’ve gathered all your data, the next step is to organize each of your growers into a hierarchy that will enable you to build your bottom-up strategy. Here’s an example of a hierarchy you could use:

  • Small: 0-500 acres
  • Medium: 500-1,000 acres
  • Large: 1,000+ acres

The goal is to start connecting with the smaller farms, using the data to make targeted and personalized connections.

Depending on your product or service, you certainly don’t want to exclude the large farms. But going after small farms, where there’s less competition, will help you bring in new customers and dollars quickly.

Step 3: Identify the relationships between the smaller and larger farms.

FarmFocus has a built-in Related Grower tool that lets you see all the various relationships that each grower has. With a tool like this, you can easily see how the small farms connect to the larger farms.

Use this information to strategically target those smaller farms that are going to be most likely to connect you with larger farms.

So instead of prioritizing based on the value of their potential purchase, you’re prioritizing based on the value of the potential relationship, which will provide a steadier foundation and work better for you over the long term.

Step 4: Reach out and start selling

The next step is to start building relationships. With the data available to you in FarmFocus, you’ll have all the information you need to match your solutions to their needs in a specific, personalized way.  So go forth and sell!

Here are a few tips to get started:

  • Make sure you have reliable grower data. This entire strategy hinges on having accurate data that can inform those strategic decisions you have to make. This is where Farm Market iD is best positioned to help you implement this strategy. (Feel free to reach out to us with any questions you have.)
  • Personalize each message. The key differentiator between you and your competitors is that in using the bottom-up approach, you’re focusing on building relationships with farmers rather than simply blasting out email communications and playing the numbers game. As a result, it’s crucial for you to take a little extra time with each message to make sure you’re saying something that’s going to resonate with that person and spark a long-lasting relationship.

Focus on the farmers, not on your products. Building a relationship with farmers can’t be one-sided. You can’t just focus on you and your products. You have to focus on them and provide the solution to their problems.

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Rural Selling

Sales Prospecting - Rural Selling

Selling in rural areas is a far cry from selling in urban and suburban environments.

While most agribusiness happens outside of urban areas, if you’re new to rural sales – and especially sales prospecting in rural areas – you may encounter challenges when breaking into the rural markets you’re targeting.

Rural areas are generally less diverse and more community-focused than other markets. This offers great opportunity for long-term relationship sales and marketing, but limits your ability to make a quick sale.

To better reach your rural clients, consider some of the following tips on how to sell in rural areas.

Engage in Communities

Since rural communities function as more tightly knit groups than urban communities do, it’s important to engage in the communities that you’d like to serve. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time in a specific community, you need to engage in the things that people in that community care about.

Maybe this means making yourself known at the local watering hole or attending community events, like festivals or concerts. In some communities, farmers gather at the local diner early in the morning for coffee and a chat. Maybe try showing up and introducing yourself, and then listen to their conversation.

Because of the community focus in smaller towns, you’ll find that many of the farmers you want to work with are already engaged in their community and part of a vibrant network that defines the culture of the town. This can make it initially more challenging to break into the market.

However, over time, as you get to know the community, you can win their trust and build relationships, something that’ll be invaluable as you try to sell.

Focus on Quality, not Quantity

The old adage of “quality over quantity” definitely comes into play when you’re selling in a rural area. First, it’s vital to remember that it’s the quality of relationships that you establish, rather than the quantity.

If you’ve got a product that retails at $300,000 and you know that smaller farmers can’t afford it, use your data to determine the farms where your product will add value, and where the farmer will feel comfortable with your introductory price points.

When a single sale is several hundred figures, it only takes a couple to make the time spent worth your while.

When you have a solid connection in a community, you can depend on repeat business and individual sales that are likely higher than they might be for the one-off customers you might encounter in an urban setting. Once you win a customer, you may have them for life.

Become an Invaluable Resource

When you engage in the rural communities you serve and build relationships with the farmers who work there, you make yourself an invaluable resource to the farmers in that area.

Not only can you expect to be the first number that a farmer calls when they encounter an issue they know you can help them solve, but you can expect that your name and contact information will eventually make the rounds among other potential leads that need your services.

The key to building relationships with farmers in rural areas is to be honest and approachable. Investments of time and community engagement will make the difference for those that you serve – and will end up driving their business to your door.

Data That Makes Sales Conversations More Meaningful

Sales Prospecting - Data That Makes Conversations More Meaningful

When you’re talking to a farmer, whether it’s for the first or hundredth time, you want that conversation to have an impact. Data can help you make those sales conversations more meaningful.

Both you and the farmers you’re trying to reach are busy people, and every minute is precious. You want to make the most of every conversation, whether it’s on the phone or in person. Spending time asking the farmer for information you could’ve done beforehand is a waste.

It’s like we all learned in school: do your homework.

And having access to farm data will make sure you get an “A” on every conversation you have. Here are six types of farm data that will make your sales conversations, and thus your sales prospecting efforts, more meaningful.

Farm size

Knowing how much land a grower farms helps you understand what they’re unique problems they’re facing. You’ll have a better idea of what type of products they’ll be interested in, or even if they’re going to be a good fit for your agribusiness.

For example, small farms need more help with inputs and distribution. Large farms need help with efficiency, scale and automation.

You don’t want to offer the wrong product to the right customer – then you’re just shooting yourself in the foot.

Crop type

Farmers are intimately tied both to the land they own and manage and the crops they grow. But just as important as knowing how much land they’re farming is also knowing what kind of crops their farming as well.

Is the farm specialized or generalized? Are they rotating crops? If so, what crops were farmed last year, and what are they looking to farm this year?

Different crops also require different products. If there’s a farmer growing corn this year, selling him soy isn’t going to be effective.

Thus, be aware of what’s coming up so you can have a meaningful sales conversation.

Number of growers in a specific location

Whether you’re targeting a specific region, state or county, having a list of the growers who manage all the farmable land in your territory is going to be helpful.

It’s especially going to be helpful if you can access that data within minutes, rather than spending countless hours researching each grower, trying to hunt down their contact info, farm size, crop type, etc.

This data is also useful to empower your sales reps with as well. If they’re out in the field and come across a farm that wasn’t on the original list or plan, being able to view that data on their phone and identify in minutes who owns it, how big the farm is and what they’re growing – that can be powerful.

Related growers

No farmers work in a vacuum. They’re part of a community that communicate and interact with each other.

In some cases, some farmers not only manage the farms they own, but some that have different owners as well. Sometimes, some farms are all owned by different family members, making them more inter-connected than you would imagine at first glance.

Using data to understand how growers relate to each other will help you see the big picture, put all your growers in their appropriate contexts, and help you see the network so you know who to talk to next.

Current operator

Times change. Farmers turn over management to another farmer or a farm management service. Sometimes they’ll sell some of their farmland. And, sadly, we know that some pass away and leave their farms to their surviving family members.

When the change happens, you want to be prepared. Having data that stays updated on an annual basis helps you stay prepared.

So when management changes, you know to talk to and have a meaningful conversation.

Accurate, up-to-date contact information

After you know who to talk to and what kinds of offers are going to resonate with them most, you need to know how to get in touch with them. Fortunately, that’s exactly what data can offer you.

Email addresses change. People move locations or change P.O. boxes. Phone numbers are disconnected and reconnected all the time. Having up to date contact information will make sure that you’re only reaching out to people who are actually going to hear from you, and not dead space.

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Modernize Your Sales Efforts with a CRM

Sales Prospecting - CRM

Modern farmers are becoming more sophisticated; not only by choice, but necessity.

Thanks to technological advances, farmers can monitor their entire farm acre by acre. They can see which crop is best suited to the land, the correct inputs needed to produce the best yield possible, and the yield received at harvest.

Managing a farm down to very small details brings big results, so farmers are modernizing rapidly. And with modernization comes sophistication.

These changes can be small, like incorporating barcodes or tracking analytics. Or, they can be as big and complex as overhauling your warehousing and distribution systems.

As farmers become more sophisticated, so do agribusinesses.

Here’s an easy upgrade that’ll bring loads of payoffs for your sales: start using a customer relationship management (CRM) system.

If you don’t, you’ll miss, lose, and forget data concerning your ag customers and their interests, activities, and habits.

Using a CRM means that you are going to modernize alongside your sophisticated ag clients, building a strategy to better communicate and know your customers. It’s a long-term, data-driven strategy that’ll help you know who’s interested in a particular offer at a particular time.

It’ll help you keep your marketing strategy customer-focused – which reaps incredible rewards.

A CRM is also easy to scale – whether you have a hundred customers or a million, your database will be there to back you up. It also gives you functionality that other forms of marketing don’t. When you’re working with a database, analytics and campaign reports are just a click away.

Here are some tips to help ensure your success:

Locate and consolidate your data. You may have customer records across various spreadsheets and systems – but a CRM will help you pull all that data together in one place. Check individual contracts, transaction histories, solicitation histories, lead generation forms, promotion histories, and anywhere else you may find customer data.

Keep your data clean. Once you’ve put this information in your CRM, clean up your data to keep it error-free. Prospects not only change email addresses and phone numbers, but also the crops they’re producing and the land they’re managing. 75 percent of companies waste an average of 14 percent of revenue on bad data. Keeping your data clean means more dollars for you in the end.

Fill in the gaps.  Of course, you may not have everything you need just from customer records. That’s where data appending and enhancement comes in. For example, you could take the zip codes of areas that are experiencing droughts and cross-reference those zip codes with your customer records. There are a variety of ways to use data appending to create more robust information and, ultimately, drive a more customized and data-driven marketing effort.

Share data with everyone on your team, and even across teams. Your data may all be in one place, but it’s just going to sit there collecting dust if no one uses it. The beauty of a CRM is that everyone in your company – from your marketing team to your sales reps and customer service reps – can have access to the data and see each customer’s history. Take advantage of that and get everyone on the team in the CRM, regularly looking at the data.

Get to know your customers. CRMs let you host a wide variety of data – from contact information to social media accounts to family relationships to website activity and more. If you have comprehensive data on your customers and prospects (which Farm Market iD can provide), then you can get to know them a little bit before reaching out – and when you do reach out, you can provide a personalized point of contact rather than a stock cold call.

Meet your customers where they are. As your customers and their needs modernize, join them. Revamping your strategies and tools around customer relation management to incorporate robust, actionable information is a great way to ensure you’re reaching out to the best prospects at the most optimal times.

With a CRM, you’ll be able to track, report, and analyze your customers and their activities, giving you powerful data to power your marketing efforts.

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Tactic #1: Understand and Respond to Pain Points

It’s the hallmark of a great sales conversation – identifying and responding to farmers’ pain points.

The more you know about those pain points before going into the conversation, the more meaningful the conversation will be, and the more likely you’ll be able to close a deal, especially when you’re engaging in sales prospecting.

We’ve talked before about how farm data helps make sales conversations more meaningful. However, understanding and interpreting farm data is just the start. After you understand what data tells you about the farm, you then have to find farmers’ pain points and then offer your product or service as the solution to their problem.

Having good, reliable farm data is the key to taking this next step beyond simply understanding the farmer and becoming more proactive about helping them.

Here are a few examples of how agribusiness sales professionals can use data to find farmers’ pain points and provide the solutions.

Use geolocation data to help them expand their operation

Generally speaking, more acres farmed means more dollars earned. That means that farmers who currently own or operate small farms could be interested in increasing the amount of land they operate.

If you have a relationship with a farmer already, you can use your knowledge of farm data to address this pain point for them. First, find out how much farmland they operate (and own).

Then, you can use geospatial data combined with grower data to find out who owns the farms nearby and whether they may be looking to sell the land or outsource the operation to someone else.

Whether you’re in the seed business, provide irrigation services, sell farm equipment or offer insurance policies, helping your current customers increase the land they operate will help you increase your own market share.

Having data at your disposal to identify and respond to this pain point is crucial.

Use crop data to help them modernize their farming practices

The modern farm is more technologically advanced than before. While the benefits of technology make farms more efficient and scalable, the rapid advance of technology does make it challenging to keep up.

This is where you, the agribusiness professional, can help. By knowing exactly which crops the farmer is growing, you’ll be able to find out the specific, cutting edge farm practices that they need to keep up with tech advancements and, as a result, increase their outputs.

This is where having access to crop data – both current and historic – will help you.

Even the most conservative farmer is likely to listen if you know what you’re talking about, so arm yourself with data and address their pain points.

Use grower data to help them downsize or outsource the operation

Sometimes, an owner is looking to sell land or find someone else to manage the land. In these cases, you can use grower data to help them shrink, rather than expand, the operation.

There are two ways to do this. The first is to simply watch for signs that someone may be looking for a change. A farmer that recently sold a bit of land may still be interested in downsizing or outsourcing more of the operation. And if you find that a patriarch recently passed, perhaps the family needs someone else to fill the gap.

Whether you provide farm management services or are looking to appraise land for sale, grower data helps you find operations that are looking to downsize or outsource so you can help them through the process.

Tactic #2: Tell Stories that Resonate with Farmers

Big data is revolutionizing the agriculture industry. This shift to a data-driven market means that data now plays a more powerful role in how you reach farmers.

Instead of making decisions based solely on their instinct, farmers are now using data and technology to inform their decision-making. From what crops to plant, when to plant them and dozens of other crucial decisions, data is making a significant impact among farmers.  It gives them more confidence that they’ll produce positive results from the decisions they’re making.

But data also empowers you – the salesperson – by giving you insights into your market and can help you with your integrated marketing campaigns.

The biggest challenge you’ll face in any given campaign is making sure your messaging is consistent across your various channels – especially if you’re working across teams. Many companies have trouble coordinating and interpreting big data sets among multiple departments, vendors and launch dates that typically accompany an integrated marketing campaign.

After you’ve used data to understand your audience, start using data to tell stories that will resonate with your farmers. These stories will provide the basis of your integrated marketing campaigns.

Take crop rotation, for example. If you have a combination of grower and geospatial data, you can tell how many farmers are growing a certain crop within your area of service. But if they rotate and grow something different the following year, you’ll want to know that so you can accurately provide the goods and services they need. Without that data, you’d be providing services for the wrong crop, opening the door for your competitors to swoop in and steal your business.

A few years ago, Bolthouse Farms spearheaded a collaborative effort against the junk food industry with a campaign featuring peeled baby carrots. At the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit, their CEO said the campaign intended to increase the demand for baby carrots, especially among millennial consumers.

Bolthouse’s data told them that millennials “care about doing business and consuming from brands that care about more than making a product. They’re particularly interested in the story around how we source food.”

They used their data to tell a story: a story about their brand and how they were standing against the junk food industry. Because they knew what their audience wanted, they were able to run an integrated campaign across multiple channels that brought them great success.

Big data has permeated almost every aspect of the farming journey. Using data, agri-marketers can learn more about crops, target audiences and market conditions. This data leads to a better understanding of farmers, and can help you tell stories that resonate with those farmers. After that, creating a consistent sales prospecting effort.

Tactic #3: Capitalize on a Farm’s Unique Strategic Advantage

Not all farms are created equal. While each farm offers value to the market – and the population at large – they do so in different ways.

Knowing a farm’s unique strategic advantage is key to providing the right guidance, service and products to the farmer when you’re engaging in sales prospecting.

When you can tap into these unique factors, you can work with your farmers to leverage your products and services as part of each farm’s future marketing strategies. However, each individual farmer may or may not be aware of their farm’s strategic advantage.

If you can help farmers in your territory identify their strategic advantages, you can win their trust and build a productive relationship for both them and your business.

Below are some important data sets that can give you a glimpse of a farm’s strategic advantage.

Consider the size of the farm

Farm size can help you discover the market a farm works with and which consumers it might be interested in working with. When farmers understand how their size influences their potential market, they can utilize farm size to their advantage.

Smaller farms serve smaller markets, meaning that they can reach niche markets that larger farms ignore. A farmer working with a niche market might be looking to diversify their crops and want to work with heirloom or organic seeds, for example.

On the other hand, larger farms don’t have the same barriers to entry that small farms do when it comes to commodity sales and capturing a large piece of the market share pie. Large farms can leverage their size to attract new buyers, and might be interested in new farm technology or equipment.

The things that small farms and large farms need to leverage their strategic advantages can vary significantly. For example, farmers with small farms might also be able to experiment with different seed types or off-season events to capture community engagement and local buy-in, whereas farmers with larger farms likely don’t need to worry with the fluctuating wants and desires of their local communities.

Take a look at farm size information on farms in your territory to get a better feel for how farm sizes impact the activities your farmers are likely to be interested in.

Look at local climate, soil and land advantages

A farm’s physical location is incredibly important when it comes to what crops farmers grow, and how successfully they grow them. Some natural factors to consider when identifying strategic advantage are climate, soil health and other physical land aspects, like bodies of water nearby.

Climate and soil health have an obvious impact on crop planting decision and crop yield. For example, if a farmer lives in a location with ample water supply and rich soil, he has the advantage to reap nutrient-dense crops from his field. These crops might attract new customers at the farm stand or it might impact overall yield, which will allow him to earn greater profits come harvest time.

Data on crop type, farm boundaries and local geographic features can give you insight to the natural strategic advantages your farmers have access to.

Understand who’s related to who

Related growers and local farm networks can be an advantage for the farms that you work with.

Some farming communities still have strong family ties, and these family relationships can influence how farmers operate and what their day-to-day operations look like, depending on which family members handle which aspects of farm management. Details like land consolidation and split subsidy payments also come into play here, since farm management and land boundaries can change as older generations pass away or retire.

Sometimes, farms in a certain area are passed along to younger family members who would rather not carry on the family business. In this case, certain small farms may end up consolidated and run by a larger management company, changing the way that each piece of land is owned and operated.

To learn more about your farmers’ connections, look into data on related farms and other agricultural outlets in your territory to determine whether these factors might come into play.

Narrow down each farm’s unique strategic advantage

The farms in your territory are going to fall into multiple categories that influence their strategic advantages. You can help farmers to determine their own unique strategic advantages by highlighting where their various opportunities intersect.

The combination of size factor, natural advantage and local connection for Farm A might look entirely different from that for Farm B, even if the farms are across the street from one another. When you understand how these differences give your farmers advantages in their respective markets, you can find ways to incorporate your products or services as part of the “secret sauce” that sets them apart.

A Data-Led Sales Conversation, Start-to-Finish

You know that data is an integral part of a successful sales prospecting strategy. But how should data drive conversations on the ground?

You certainly can’t walk up to farmers in the field and divulge random bits of information, expecting to land a sale. More likely, being too knowledgeable will scare away potential clients and the opportunity for gaining new sales.

When approaching the data-led sales conversation, you’ll want to apply what you already know about sales and tweak it based data that you’ve gathered on the farmers you’re engaging through sales prospecting.

Here’s a data-led sales conversation guide that you can use to succeed in selling to farmers in the field.

Listen and Learn

The most important part of your sales prospecting conversation will be not what you say, but what you don’t say. When you initially sit down with a farmer, listen rather than speak.

You’re listening for many reasons, but most importantly, you want to listen to develop relationships. After all, a relationship built on trust and understanding will get you closer to your farmers than any other means of connection will.

You can use your data to guide the conversation toward certain topics, but for the most part, this component of the sales conversation is less about what you have to offer and more of a fact-finding event.

Look for Pain Points

As you listen and learn, listen carefully for your farmers’ pain points. These may come up predictably, like the part of the conversation where you and the farmer talk about the hot summer and how it negatively impacted crops during the last growing season.

Other times, pain points might come up randomly, and you’ll need to learn how to mine them from your conversation. A farmer might offhandedly mention the challenges of paying for their children’s Christmas gifts or truck repairs, which might give you an indication of the financial challenges that his farm is facing.

Or they might mention the trouble that other farmers nearby are experiencing in getting their tractors to work well in the rocky soil, which could indicate a challenge that multiple farmers in the area might need assistance to overcome.

After you hear about these pain points in conversation, you can then dive deep into the data to get more detail and, hopefully, be able to provide some insight or advice for them.

Your ability to pull out challenges and struggles unique to your farmers and/or territory will provide you with an advantage in product presentation later on in the conversation.

Demonstrate Your Understanding

In addition to listening carefully for certain pieces of information, you’ll want to demonstrate that you understand and empathize with the struggles that farmers face. After all, you’re likely engaging in conversation to show that the products or services that your brand offers can meet certain needs on the farm – you’re not sitting around to simply shoot the breeze.

Part of developing trusting relationships with the farmers you talk to involves your participation. It’s here where you’ll begin laying the groundwork to present the products and services that you’ve come to sell. If you can successfully connect with your farmer at a personal and professional level, your later work will be easier.

Develop Need Awareness

When you understand what your farmers need, you can draw the conversation to a more pointed discussion about what your farmers specifically need to do their jobs better. While this portion of the conversation should ideally involve plenty of time for the farmer you’re talking to share their concerns and frustrations with the work that they do, you’ll want to circle back to how pain points are connected with real needs your products and services meet.

Be careful not to explicitly mention your products and services at this point. You don’t want to come off like a hard sell before your farmers develop a conscious awareness of the needs that they have. You want farmers to know their pain points before you try to dump information about solutions that you have for them.

Work to Spark a “Light Bulb” Moment

As you let a farmer you’re talking to process their needs, steer the conversation to a place where they can identify potential solutions that might solve their problems. Ideally, your conversation should lead your farmer to identify a solution or two that comes within shooting range of the products and services that your business has to offer.

You’re going to want your farmer to have a “light bulb” moment where they realize that a solution to their understood need actually exists. Depending on the complexity of your product or service, it may become immediately evident that the solutions you offer are exactly what the farmer needs to resolve their predicament.

For more complex products or services, you will need to continue to steer the conversation specifically toward your brand.

Talk About Product Benefits

At this point in your conversation, the bulk of the discussion will shift away from the farmer that you’re talking to and to your own knowledge and know-how. It’s here that you’ll want to use sales aids to make a presentation about what your product does or what benefits the services you sell bring to the farm.

You may use various sales aids at this point, like live product demonstrations, product samples, binders full of information – whatever you deem useful for conveying product and brand information.

The main selling point for your product is the benefits that it brings to your potential clients. Sales demonstrations will help you explicitly connect the dots between what your brand offers and how these solutions can meet the needs your farmers have.

Depending on the pain points you extract from your farmers, you’ll want to focus on product benefits that meet these needs, rather than giving a point-by-point rundown of product features and potential benefits. You want to make the viability of your product or service as attractive as you can to the farmer that you’re trying to sell to.

Offer Pointed Solutions

If your brand offers multiple products or services, it’s up to you to decide which one(s) to push during your sales conversation. Some potential clients will be big buyers who will purchase multiple products or services, add-ons, accessories and whatever else you have to offer.

For the most part, your clients will likely only be interested in one or two of the products or services that your brand offers. Don’t be put off by a potentially small sale. Instead, leverage the information you have about your farmers to get a realistic idea of the type of sale you can expect to make before going into any sales conversation.

Data regarding farm size and income levels should help you to determine whether a sales conversation you enter will be a potential large sale or more of a routine sales call. Use your data analysis to assess whether the farmers you’re visiting can or will be interested in purchasing certain solutions that you have to offer.

Demonstrate How Your Company is Uniquely Poised to Help

Your sales conversation should not only draw the farmer you’re talking to toward your products and services, but to your brand uniquely. Your brand has something that other brands don’t have to offer – that’s why you’re in the field or the farmhouse making the sales pitch.

You want to demonstrate that your company has something unique to offer your farmers. Perhaps you have a local know-how that national brands can’t bring to the table. Maybe you have technology that lets you stay on top of problems as they crop up in real time so that you can deliver pointed solutions as they arise, rather than having to wait for error reports to come rolling in.

Regardless of the physical or relational position your brand has to offer, you should certainly use your data driven knowledge of your farmers to put your brand in a favorable light for your farmers to connect with.

Close the Sale

Once you’ve drawn your farmer out through the course of the conversation to realize his pain points, need for a solution and the possibility that partnership with your brand can offer, it’s time to close the sale. If you’ve driven your conversation correctly, your farmer should be ready to make a buying decision.

Keep in mind that the sales conversation may not take place entirely over a single physical conversation – it may take months to go from initial contact to closing the sale. But if you’ve done your due diligence to study the farmers you meet with and use your relationships on the ground to build loyalty among the farmers you’re trying to sell to, closing the sale should be relatively easy when the time is right.

Emphasize Value in Partnership

As with presenting possible solutions, an important part in closing your sale is not only getting a contract signed and products delivered, but in the value in partnership that your farmers will gain in working with your brand. You want your farmers’ sales, yes, but more importantly, you want to establish a meaningful connection between your brand and the individual farmers in your territory.

Leverage the benefits of partnership in tandem with the products or services that your farmers are interested in purchasing to deliver an unbeatable combination that your farmers will find hard to resist. Not only will you win a sale, but you may end up gaining a new long-term customer that’ll bring far more value to your brand than a one-off sale ever could.

The data-led sales conversation is not challenging – especially for those experienced in sales. You need to combine information gained from close data analysis along with that gathered through authentic conversations in the field to pitch your products and close sales.

When done correctly, the data-led sales conversation empowers your sales prospecting team to make meaningful connections and build customer loyalty to gain more than simple one-time sales. With a bit of time and training, your sales team can use data-led sales conversations to improve client relationship, make more sales and add value to your brand.

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FarmFocus - Farm Market iD - Sales Prospecting