5 Megatrends in Ag Sales – Continued

And What you need to do to survive, thrive and prosper through them!

Last time we covered the first three megatrends in Ag sales.  For the complete article, go to 5 Megatrends in Ag Sales.

#1: Tighter End User Economics

#2:  Fewer Local Offices & Support Staff

#3:  Fewer Salespeople

            Our journey continues through the remaining two Megatrends that are shaping the future of the Ag sales profession.

#4 Multiple Generations

Trend:  No, this is not another “Millennials in the Marketplace” article.  BTW (by the way), some of the Millennials are approaching 40 and it’s kind of old news.  However, there is a generational trend that is going on in Ag sales that is affecting how you sell.  Currently and for the foreseeable future, there are three generations you have to sell to.  Previously, there were only two generations in the primary workforce.  Today, with the speed of technology, people living & working longer, changing social experiences and the complexity of farming, we have three: Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials, all on the farm making decisions.  While there are some definite characteristics that fit each generation, don’t get caught assuming it fits everyone in a particular generation.  I see examples every day where older producers embrace technology and younger ones don’t.  While it’s helpful to know the basic generation characteristics, each sale happens one on one.

What should an Ag Sales Professional do?  Connect and Communicate!

  • Connect whenever and wherever your customer is. That’s audio, video, hard copy/written, print media, direct mail, email, texting, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, trade shows, on farm, coffee shops, your own company events or your customer’s events.  Wherever they are, they want you to find them.  It’s never been easier or more complex to advertise and reach customers.  Oh, and when a customer Google’s you, you need to show up on the first page, preferably near the top of that first page.

Think about a grain elevator posting their daily bids.  They first need to be generated on internal Excel documents, then posted on their own website.  Following that, they are texted, emailed, posted to the local Ag radio station as well as sent to several Ag web sites that track bids. The internet has allowed for inexpensive and more direct marketing, which is great.  However, there are still large segments of our market that are not online, let alone on Facebook and Twitter.  For this group, we still need printed marketing material, brochures, and product manuals.  I think in a few rare locations; companies still fax things!

Is it all necessary?  Try opening up a laptop in the snow on the tailgate of a pickup and running a PowerPoint presentation.  Worse yet, try using words only to explain how your new software program works and what the different functions allow you to do for a customer.  Sorry, but yes, it’s all necessary.  Ignoring one of these connection methods makes it easier for your competition to connect with them.

  • Communicate in the way each customer prefers. I find it amazing when sales teams or customers claim we don’t communicate enough.  Or they didn’t know about an event or promotion because “no one told them”.  For internal salespeople, I like to remind them we spend nearly $500/ month on cell phones, data plans, I-pads, laptops, home internet service, anti-virus software, and program licenses so that we can communicate almost instantaneously.  How much more communication do we need?  I think the struggle is more often, too much communication and the difficulty to get through the volume.  When he couldn’t get through to his sales team, our sales manager would send a certified letter to our homes when he wanted to emphasize a point.  Early one November, we all got a letter from him that said, “Sales are slow!  Put down your bow and sell some feed!”   We got the point.

Our customers are no different.  They have information overload coming at them on an hourly basis.  So, they get selective at where they get their information.  Find this out by asking early in the prospecting phase.


#5 DIY Mentality

Trend:  The Do It Yourself (DIY) movement has swept through the auto and home repair business.  With a YouTube video, Auto Zone and Home Depot, you can just about fix anything in your home or in your garage.  With self-checkout, you don’t even have to talk to anyone at those stores.  With Amazon or any online sales, you don’t even need to go into the store!  Similarly, there is a wave of DIY approaching the agribusiness industry and we need to adapt as this megatrend unfolds.  Increasing RFID card use is an example.  Grain elevators can be built to do everything automatic except several parts of grading.  Ag retail locations can use RFID cards to set up a completely autonomous fertilizer loadout system.  Online offer systems allow for grain trading to go through a web site.  While just about every company allows you access to your personal account with them online.  The vast majority allowing for transactions to take place there as well.

A salesperson’s role used to be as the primary source of information – all information and ordering.  The need to bring everything to the farm or agribusiness is no longer needed.  However, there is a more important role for you to take on.

What should an Ag Sales Professional do?  Embrace it, learn it and become proficient at it.

  • That recommendation is sounding familiar, but it applies to this megatrend as well. You can complain all you want and you can refuse to tweet, text, and email but that just makes it easier for your competition to pass you by.
  • You are the bridge: Again, as with the multi-generation situation, we find ourselves at the crossroads of technology.  We need to maintain the old way of doing business before making the leap to the new way.  As a sales professional, you are the bridge from the old way to the new.  This is a critical role that you provide to your customer and your company.  While there are fewer local offices and staff, fewer personal connections, roaming VOIP phone systems and online account access, YOU are now the link to it all.  Your customer needs you now more than before.  They don’t need you to come out and read a brochure to them.  They need you to help navigate technology: yours and the industry’s.  Show them how to switch from the old to the new way and make them better at farming, milling, manufacturing, etc.

Your company is also relying on you to understand when it’s time to employ new technology.  None of it is free and painless to implement.  I’m sure at some level, it all has a positive ROI.  However, they need your help to understand if or when to make the investment.

The message of the 5 Megatrends in Ag Sales has really hit home with many of you and I think it’s too important to end here.  I would like to talk with you about bringing this message to your entire team or association.  We go through our daily work life and need someone to bring the message of where the ag sales industry is heading.  Email me at Greg Martinelli to discuss how we can make that happen for you, your team or your association.


For more information on Ag sales training, coaching or business development, contact

Greg Martinelli at Ag Sales Professionals, LLC

at (608) 751-6971.

Email is Greg@GregMartinelli.net 

Website is www.GregMartinelli.net

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