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5 Components of a Successful Ag Retail Sales Training Program

gathered around conference room table for ag retail sales training

As Greg Martinelli, a professional ag sales coach, says, “The role of the ag salesperson is evolving as they have to differentiate to evade a world trying to commoditize their products.” 

Put simply, the competition is stiff, and margins are tight for ag retail. 

The effectiveness of your sales team directly influences your profitability, so investing in an ag-retail-focused training program is money well spent. Here are five ways to boost the effectiveness of your ag retail sales training program to help sellers reach their goals.


Simplify the sales experience

Farmers are some of the busiest people out there, wearing multiple hats throughout the day to keep their operations running smoothly. That means ag retail sellers must respect their customers’ time by approaching the sales process with simplicity, professionalism and convenience. Train your team to walk through a short pre-call questionnaire like this one to help focus their objectives before every customer call.

  • What is the goal of today’s sales call?
  • What information do I need to leave with today?
  • What do I want my customer to do after this sales call?
  • What data/resource/information will I leave with my customer?

Train your sellers to be prepared with the information they’ll need for each sales call. It’s helpful to use digital software that is updated in real-time as inventory, prices and customer information changes. Your sales training should focus on streamlining sales calls to use everyone’s time efficiently. That includes introducing your team to new resources, tools and technologies to help them organize and reduce the administrative tasks associated with sales calls.


Focus on outcomes

When you think of the sales process, the traditional seven-step infographic you saw on day one of sales training probably comes to mind. While each step of that funnel is critical to eventually closing the sale, your salespeople must focus less on the process and more on customer outcomes.

So, how does that look in real-life sales situations?

First, understand that your farmer customers aren’t the average consumer. They’re often more invested, knowledgable and skeptical when making a purchase. The decisions they make each year for their farm have long-term implications from an operational and financial perspective. The choices farmers face can be challenging and emotional.

They seek a trusted partner who is reliable, trustworthy, and willing to go deep into the trenches to find the most profitable solutions. Once your sellers understand the psyche of their farmer customers, they can understand how to sell more effectively by focusing on customer outcomes. 

If you find your salespeople are too caught up in following an “ideal” process, remind them to focus on the customer’s outcome. Here are some guiding questions to help ensure your team uses outcome-based thinking during sales calls.

  • What is your most significant operational concern today?
  • What are your yield expectations for this field?      
  • What agronomic concerns are most yield-limiting on your farm? (insects, weeds, fertility, etc.)
  • What (herbicide/fungicide/insecticide/seed products/services) have you been most/least satisfied with? Why?
  • Do you plan to make any crop management changes in the coming year? If so, what?
  • What drives your decision to purchase a particular input or service?
  • What guidance or resources would simplify your decision-making process?

Personalize the customer experience

According to Salesforce, 52% of customers expect offers to be personalized, up from 49% in 2019. In ag retail, those percentages are likely higher. Farmers want sellers to recognize their businesses’ unique opportunities and challenges to develop a customized management program that optimizes profitability potential. How can ag retail sellers meet those expectations?

Pay attention

In most sales situations, the consumer visits a store or goes online to make a purchase. In ag retail, that still happens, but many sales transactions occur on the farm. It’s an intimate experience, and if you’re invited to the farm, you should take full advantage of the opportunity to build relationships and gather information to customize your customer’s experience. Pay attention to what is happening around you. Ask insightful questions and dig deep to understand the farmer’s biggest pain points.   

Stay organized

Your busy sales team is likely visiting many customers and prospects during peak selling times, making it critical for them to keep good notes about their interactions. Encourage your team to record notes from every sales call so they can recall key insights gleaned from farmer visits. Digital tools, like GROWERS Rally, can make tracking customer information simple and convenient. The most effective tools make information accessible to everyone at your ag retail location, so they can quickly access customer information and engage them accordingly.

Formulate a plan and present an outcome-based strategy

Formulate a customized plan for your customer based on the information you’ve gathered and historical buying data. Present your recommendations to the customer and demonstrate how specific products and services address concerns you’ve discussed in previous conversations. It could be helpful to include return-on-investment calculations or modeling simulations that estimate profitability potential to support decision-making.


Prioritize prospecting

Prospecting is critical to meeting your team’s sales goals and improving your business’s revenue potential. Due to the seasonal peaks in ag retail, prospecting is often put off to deal with more immediate business needs. However, if your prospecting pipeline isn’t full, your competition is likely one step ahead of you. An effective ag retail sales training program should address how to identify and segment customer prospects. Help your team prospect more efficiently with these tips.

  • Use historical information to flag farmers who have purchased from you before but haven’t recently.
  • Help sales teams segment potential prospects, so time is focused on opportunities where revenue-generation potential is highest.
  • Make it easy for the entire sales team to track and access information about sales calls with top prospects.

Promote practice

It’s easy to walk through the steps of a successful sales journey during training in a conference room, but it’s much harder to do in real life. Sellers will encounter a myriad of personalities, objections and challenges that can easily throw off their sales games. That’s why conducting mock sales calls is a valuable experience for your sales team. Make time during regularly scheduled staff meetings to practice the art of selling. Come up with different scenarios that sellers in your area are likely to encounter and have team members act out the sales call. Use this as a development opportunity to offer feedback and constructive criticism to improve outcomes. Mock sales calls can also help the entire team formulate responses to common objections they may hear in the field, so they are prepped and in control when the situation arises.

Sales Training Takeaways

In summary, a solid ag retail sales training program should:

  • Focus on simplifying and streamlining sales calls
  • Lead with an outcome-focused process
  • Prioritize customized experiences
  • Support successful prospecting
  • Offer opportunities to practice

GROWERS Rally is a proven platform that increases sales, builds powerful customer relationships, and ensures professional communication throughout the sales process. Watch a demo of this digital tool to learn more.

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  • Agribusiness
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