As an ag sales professional, you are an essential piece in the world of agricultural business. Farmers come to you because they trust your judgment and knowledge of seed, chemical, and in-season insights that will make their farms grow more efficiently and successfully. You are the supplier, project manager, advisor, and more to these farmers, which can be a lot on top of meeting goals.
To make sure that you are the “go-to” advisor, you need to market yourself. This is how you grow your sales (and your commissions) while building a customer list that will help you advance your career. The goal is for the farmers who need the advice and the products to come to you, not the competition.
Farmers have more convenient access to products than ever before. Product suppliers allow farmers to purchase their products any way they prefer. In-person. Online. In the store. Or a combination of all three.
The product categories you’re trying to sell are likely available online and are probably being sold by at least two retail competitors in your region. How do you get the right kind of attention when the products and services you’re selling are being sold by everyone else?
This is why you, as an individual sales representative, need to identify your value proposition. This can be in addition to the value proposition (competitive advantage) of your organization as a whole.
Marketing is not always black and white for ag sales (or any business owner). While some farmers come seeking guidance willingly, others are not quite as forthcoming. You have to find a way to bridge gaps that may exist to craft the winning solutions. Your value proposition is how you will discover and define solutions to increase customer value.
Your value proposition will be what distinguishes you from your competitors – the reason why you are the ag sales advisor that farmers should seek out for advice. The goal is to establish what you can offer your customers that others cannot. This is not about the products and services you offer; it is about the way you do business.
Here are the keys to selling your solution:
- Key quantified benefits that you offer a customer to address their critical business issues
- Giving these customers the projected total investment of providing the benefits
You should base your value proposition on:
- The knowledge of the specific benefits that other customers have already achieved
- Ex. All of my customers have achieved their yield growth goal in the last five years, or my farmers can complete their pre-season ordering in three simple steps versus a lot of back and forth.
- The experiences you have had with a customer who has a comparable situation
- Ex. I know how to work with farmers who are changing plans right up until planting, and we make sure all of their inventory and application needs get them into the field on time.
- The estimation of the value provided to the customer you are referencing
- Ex. With my advice, we can help you save valuable time, in some cases hours worth of meetings, by centralizing all of your input recommendations into one step, or my connections within the industry will help other avenues of your business like grain marketing and operations and logistics.
We already acknowledged that the value proposition comes from identifying what you can offer in service and performance that others cannot. There will be multiple ways to address these gaps, some of which the competition will be taking advantage of – your value has to outshine theirs.
If a customer comes to you with a problem, they want you to have the answer they need. Better yet, proactively reaching out to help them avoid a problem in the first place is ideal.
In a perfect agribusiness situation, you would have every solution to every problem these farmers face, but this isn’t the reality. Here is where you gain insight into how your marketing approach can draw in farmers who may be experiencing the same problem.
Ag sales professionals have a unique relationship with the farmers. To leverage your value proposition, you want to create enough interest that motivates your customer to discuss their problems with their farms. If they don’t discuss the issues they have, you can’t develop the solutions.
Value is based on customer perception. The happier the customer, the more they value your offering, and the higher your market value. If your value is low, as perceived by your customers, you will find it very difficult to market yourself to the farmers who may benefit from your services and solutions.
You know better than anyone that your farmers are creating and collecting more data than ever before. However, if that data does not help a farmer make a better operational, financial or input-placement decision in the next growing season, it does not offer value.
You are the connection points between the data, the product/service, and the farmer’s goals. Your value proposition is how you connect every aspect and easily create an easy-to-follow (and implement) plan for the following year.
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