As the COVID-19 pandemic begins to ebb, professionals across many industries are asking the same question: what now? The pandemic has completely changed how many of us work, and the ag retail industry is no exception. During 2020 and 2021, ag retailers have learned to conduct business from a distance, embracing technology like video conferencing and managing farms remotely via apps.
So, is this the future?
Not exactly. According to a 2018 survey from McKinsey & Company, 78% of survey respondents prefer human connections over digital ones. Though conducted during the “pre-COVID” era, it’s safe to say that that figure hasn’t decreased significantly. Most farmers likely still want to have personal, face-to-face connections with their ag retailers, as this helps build a strong relationship over time.
But on the other hand, the pandemic has helped many ag retailers convince their growers to adopt the latest agritech. The 2020 Precision Farming Dealer Benchmark Study reports that growers consider application technology essential to growth over the next three years. It’s clear that farmers want to make greater use of technology to increase their yields and revenue.
If you want to be a successful ag retailer in 2021, you’ll have to marry traditional customer service with agritech to meet all your farmers’ needs. But, how do you do this effectively?
Outline Your Ideal Customer
The first thing any ag retailer should do if they want to be successful in 2021 (or any other year to come) is figure out who their customer is. At first glance, the answer might seem obvious: growers. However, the more specific you can answer this question, the better off you and your business will be. So, answering these questions will help you find the clients you can serve best, resulting in more successful and more enjoyable relationships across your business.
Once you’ve found your ideal customer and secured a contract with him or her, it’s your responsibility to build and nurture that relationship. Luckily, you can do this with one simple word: communication.
Ag retailers who regularly communicate with their grower clients are much more likely to see results from their efforts (because growers who talk with their ag retailers are more likely to take their advice). A great relationship with your growers can also lead to more referrals and word-of-mouth buzz, which helps your business in the long run.
Here, technology can help you keep in touch with your clients. For example, texting with your clients, meeting with them via ZOOM when meeting in person isn’t an option, or sending messages via a farm management app, increases communication and allows you and your growers to develop solutions together.
Engage With the Community
As we mentioned earlier, most people prefer in-person interactions to digital ones – and the year of near-isolation caused by the pandemic has likely only increased our need for human connection. For ag retailers and other sales professionals, this is a great thing – after all, we are the people who thrive in social situations.
If you want to find new clients, study local ag trends, or bolster your reputation within the community and engage with the farmers in your area. If you take the time to connect with the growers in your region, you’ll inevitably learn more about trends in the area, problems local growers face, and the solutions to those problems.
Additionally, it’s important to note that farmers are a tight-knit group of individuals, and they often consult one another for referrals and advice. Therefore, if you are a familiar (and friendly) face throughout your community, you are much more likely to get referrals and new business from growers in your area.
Leverage Data & Become the Go-To Resource
One of the most significant challenges ag retailers face is getting their grower clients to listen and apply their advice. The reality is that many farmers are resistant to change; whether you’re trying to sell them on a new farm plan or a new brand of fertilizer, they’d often prefer to leave things as they are.
If you end up with a client who doesn’t want to change, the digital side of agriculture can be your greatest asset. Thanks to ag software and farm management apps, you can collect data from soil tests, harvest yields, and local and national sales trends. Then, you can use this data to help your growers make informed, intelligent decisions that can help increase their revenue.
Even if we hadn’t just lived through a pandemic that forced us all to work digitally, technology would still be on the rise throughout the world of agriculture. Technological innovations like GPS guides, robotic seed, and fertilizer spreaders, and farm management software have already made farming more manageable and efficient – and that development is only going to grow in the coming years.
If you want to be a successful ag retailer, you MUST help your clients utilize the technology available to them. If they want new equipment, help them find the most effective tools for their crops and land. If they’re going to test their soil, use precision testing tools to learn the various nutrient levels across their fields. And, of course, always use farm management software to help you and your client gather data, plan future plantings, and make choices that will lead to greater yields. With the right technology at your side, your ag retailer business will be a surefire hit.
To learn more about how ag software can help your clients increase their harvest (and help you improve your business), contact the Growers team to schedule a demo of Growers.RALLY™.