Running a successful farm business requires the expertise of several trusted advisors to keep things running smoothly. In addition to accountants, bankers, and lawyers, the agronomic advisor is a critical component of a farmer’s team. As farms continue to grow, farmers’ expectations are growing, too. Here are a few things they’ll look for from their trusted advisors.
A 2017 report from Kansas State University states that farmers may collect 10 MB of data per acre from farm equipment during planting, spraying and harvest operations. Technology is undoubtedly helping farmers generate more data, but is it adding value on the farm? Unless the information is turned into actionable insights, it’s not really relevant or helpful to the farmer. In fact, data can create more noise and confusion for farmers who may not have the technical aptitude to make sense of it.
Agronomic advisors play a crucial role in helping farmers collect and analyze meaningful data that ultimately results in a profitable decision. Whether interpreting soil test results to develop a fertility plan or reviewing yield maps to build zone-based planting prescriptions, the advisor’s job is to make sense of the farmer’s data.
No time to help your customers with data analysis, but want to add that value to your business? Check out GROWERS Guide and let our team help!
At the end of the day, every farmer needs to make a profit. So, as they look to their trusted agronomic advisor, they expect recommendations that make economic sense for their operations. To increase profitability potential, you need to understand their operational goals and agronomic challenges to develop solutions that maximize the return on investment for every dollar spent. Be prepared to help farmers track the profitability of your recommendations to continue to improve the production plan.
Reliable customer service is a source of differentiation that can benefit your business and give you a leg up on competitors. The seasonal peaks are stressful for farmers, and they often have limited windows to get work done. Having a consistent team of on-call professionals available during peak seasons is a must-have for farmers. They expect professional support throughout the season, not just when it’s time for their retailers to take orders.
Farming is a complex business, and farmers expect their trusted advisors to understand and anticipate what they need. To do that, retail partners need to spend time on the farm, getting to know the ins and outs of the operation. That means scouting fields for weeds ahead of planting, riding in the planter, surveying plant health in-season and making a post-harvest visit to analyze and review the production plan.
A survey by Stratus Ag Research shows that 74 percent of farmers who receive crop scouting services from their ag retailer indicate that their retailer has a strong influence over their crop chemical purchases. In contrast, that number drops to 30 percent for those who don’t receive scouting services.
Modern farmers expect options when doing business with their trusted advisors. As competition in the industry grows, farmers benefit by having new products, technologies and tools at their disposal. Trusted advisors should be prepared to offer several options when selling a product or service. They must be able to delineate the benefits and limitations of those options with their growers. Farmers are trying to maximize their value for every dollar they spend, so deliver them several well-suited recommendations to evaluate.
Before cell phones, IMs and Teams chats, farmers had to connect with their trusted advisors face-to-face to talk business. In today’s highly connected world, the bar for timely communication has been raised. Farmers expect their trusted advisors to respond to emails, texts and phone calls quickly, especially during peak seasons. If there’s a plan change, cost increase or product substitution, farmers expect to get that information as soon as possible. With technology on your side, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with your farmers.
It’s your job to prepare your farmers for the future and set them up to capitalize on new opportunities to improve their profitability potential. Farmers expect their advisors to stay on top of the latest trends, news and products. Attend trade shows, read ag journals, follow reputable ag experts on social media and continue to learn all that you can about the products you sell. Your knowledge is a valuable sales tool, and staying up-to-date keeps your business relevant in a competitive, fast-changing industry.
Adaptability is a critical trait for success if you’re doing business in the ag industry. With so much changing so quickly, farmers need a partner who can roll with the punches and deliver the expected results. A retail team should be equipped to respond promptly to farmers’ everyday challenges. That means having contingency plans in place, tightening up supply inventories and nailing down schedules ahead of seasonal peaks. When you build flexibility into your plan, everyone wins.
Your knowledge and influence are critical to your farmers’ success, so don’t take your role as a trusted advisor lightly. Strive to keep improving your technical aptitude, communication skills and services to meet your customers’ expectations.
Sign up for our newsletter to get more articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox.