FAQs for the Ag Sales Professional

3 Frequently Asked Questions I get as a sales trainer and coach

  1. How do I close more sales?”

It’s the most often asked question in all of my 30 years as a salesperson, manager, coach, and trainer.  It’s a great question but has a very long answer.  However, here are a few concepts to help answer the question:

  • Get better questions
  • Get better at asking those better questions
  • Have a reason for your sales call besides closing a sale.  Preferably one that is in the producer’s interest.
  • Focus on their buying process versus your selling process
  • Pre-call plan and rehearse the sticking points in your sales calls.
  • View the close as a marriage proposal.  You don’t ask until there is a fit.
  • View your close as a move to the next logical step and not just a customer handing you a check.
  • Get a toe hold sale.  Get on the farm or into their agribusiness and then earn the right to ask for more of their business.

2. “I am not good at Cold Calling.  How can I get better at it?”

Well, turn the steering wheel and just drive onto the farm.  It’s that easy.  When I dig further into it, the problem is typically their mindset around cold calling.  It’s not their skill of cold calling.  It’s their view of themselves when making a cold call. 

  • Stop cold calling and start Warm Calling
  • Reframe your mindset around the cold call.  This is simply introducing yourself and your business.  If you truly help customers and you are a viable vendor in their market area, then they need to know who you are.  That’s really step 1 to a cold call.  “I help producers like you.  Here’s how you can contact me.  Can we meet in the future for a discussion on how I might help you?”  That’s it.  Anything beyond that is a bonus. 
  • Another fear for many salespeople is they want the prospective customer to want them to be there.  Salespeople don’t want to appear as an annoying or pushy salesperson.  Here’s a thought to help you with this.  Not one customer ever wakes up and says, “Gosh, I hope another salesperson calls on me today.”  Never happens.  So, get over it.  They want to farm, raise cattle, milk cows, plant crops, etc.  However, farming is a business.  And in business, you need good vendors.  When this fear built up with me, I always used this thought to help me regain confidence, This prospect really wants to do business with me.  They just don’t know it yet!”  Sounds a bit arrogant, but it really helps when deciding to drive onto or drive past a prospect’s driveway.

3. “I know how to sell, but I just need more hours in the day.”  When I interview salespeople for their upcoming training workshops, they frequently tell me how they know how to sell.  However, they just don’t have time.  They don’t have time to cold call or prospect.  They don’t have time to do those things that expand their connections in the industry, such as networking at industry events, using social media as a marketing tool, or using their CRM (Customer relationship management) program to organize themselves. 

It takes a lot of discussion and digging to help a salesperson or sales team with their time and territory management skills.  Mostly, it takes someone asking some difficult questions and their honest reflection on those questions.  Here are a few tips to help you with this area:

  • A sales territory is a business.  You run your own small business.  Often, you became the owner of it with little to no guidance on how to run it.  A price list and a set of keys to the company car were your training program.
  • Working on your business can be more important than working in your business.  Working in your business includes: driving around, calling on customers and prospects, and growing your business.  Working on your business includes:
    • Customer segmentation – knowing your niche
    • Developing the skill of bringing all your company resources to the market. 
  • Saying “No and not going”.  What you don’t do is often more important than what you do.  Where you don’t go and who you don’t call on are often the deciding factors in getting organized.
  • Make some sort of a plan…. Quit winging it!  When you office from home/company car and have a large geography to cover, having daily appointments and organizing your routes can be overwhelming after months or years of doing it.  By nature, we get a little lazy.  We decide to skip the planning process and just wing it.  We’ll get up tomorrow, head east or west toward one of our key accounts and just see where the day takes us.  My guess is that the day will lead you to fighting fires all day.  Some days, you need to fight those fires.  Yet, most days, those fires are just waiting for you to have time on your hands.

These three areas are the most common problem areas that salespeople and sales managers run into or need help with.  They are some of my favorites to deal with as small changes in their actions or their mindset can make huge differences in how to deal with them.  The improvements in your sales, your engagement, and your personal development are my rewards for writing these weekly posts, recording the podcasts, and working with agribusiness teams for over 30 years. 

If any of these areas are a struggle for you, reach out and let’s talk about how I might be able to help you and your sales team.

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