Your team has put in the work. They’ve made the farm visits, fostered the relationships, listened to their customers and delivered customized recommendations. Closing the deal seems like a no-brainer, yet research* shows that the average win rate – closing a sale after providing a proposal or quote – is only 47%.
You know that the sales process is complicated, and it’s more of an art than a science. Every customer is different, requiring a slightly different approach each time you pursue a sale. Here are six tips to help fine-tune your sales technique to boost the win rate.
According to a report by Salesforce Work.com and The TAS Group, salespeople who identify customer pain points and offer practical solutions are 28% more likely to close the sale. If a farmer doesn’t see value in the product or service you’re selling, the deal is dead in its tracks. Listen, engage and match solutions to problems to remain competitive in the market. “Always be closing” used to be the name of the game, but today’s ag retailers should “always be collaborating” with their customers to find opportunities to deliver value.
When you’re closing in on a sale, ask pointed questions to understand what it will take to get the deal done. Here are some examples:
- What is your biggest production challenge?
- What do you hope to accomplish with this product or service?
- What hesitations do you have about making this purchase?
- Is there more information I can provide to help you make a decision?
- What other alternatives are you considering?
Every farmer has different business goals, agronomic challenges and budgets in mind as they make their purchasing decisions. Taking a tiered approach to selling can help you meet your customers’ needs and close more deals.
Tiered selling is just as it sounds – you offer a tier of products or services (a menu, if you will) at different price points. For example, say you’re selling a nutrient management program. A premium tier offering might include multiple spray applications of the most plant-available nutrient formulations, along with partner products to increase nutrient uptake. A step lower – the foundational tier – may consist of some of the products in the premium tier but with less frequent applications. You could also offer a basic option that includes the minimum nutrient requirements to sustain the crop in season.
By offering these different options, you empower the farmer to evaluate the value of each tier relative to their objectives. Discuss the benefits and limitations of each tier and how it fits with the farmers’ overall production plan.
One effective way to close more deals is to offer farmers a risk-free trial. For example, if you’re trying to sell the latest fungicide to a farmer who is happy with their current product, offer to spray part of the field at no cost. The farmer will be able to compare the performance of the new product against what they are currently using, which could result in a future sale.
Many farmers are hesitant to switch up a program that’s working for them. A no-obligation trial can give farmers access to new products and technology to see what they’ve been missing. This isn’t a strategy you’ll use with every customer, but it could be a good fit for high-stakes sales situations that may result in large contracts.
Just as finding the right agronomists and trusted advisors is vital for every grower, incorporating technology to make Intuition is a powerful sales tool. Sometimes you’ll know right away that a sale just isn’t going to happen. Being able to read your customers’ cues can set you up for success – whether that’s walking away early in the sales process to spend your time on more lucrative customers or digging deeper to resolve objections that stand in the way of a sale.
Don’t rely only on what the customer says – watch facial expressions and body language carefully. For example, if a customer is fully engaged while talking about product benefits but then shuts down when the price conversation comes up, it’s a good indication that you may have hit a roadblock. By reading verbal and non-verbal cues, you’ll be able to adapt your approach in real-time to boost your odds of closing the sale.
Be prepared to respond to objections and temporary conditions that could prevent a sale. For example, an objection might be, “this product costs too much.” In that situation, the farmer isn’t likely to purchase the product at the quoted price. You may need to rework the deal or offer a different product that aligns with the farmer’s budget.
On the other hand, a farmer may offer a conditional statement like, “I’m interested in this product, but I’ve already secured what I need for this season.” In that case, you’ve opened the door to continue pursuing this customer with this product in the future.
When you’re confident in the message you’re delivering, your customers are more likely to believe and trust you. Practice what you want to say before you try to close a sale, and be prepared to address any objections with positive, practical solutions. Role-playing different scenarios is an excellent way to gain experience navigating the sales call and can boost your confidence at the farm gate.
While being assertive is part of a salesperson’s role, being too aggressive can lead to negative outcomes. When you find a balance between the two, you’ll be in a sweet spot to close the sale.
Every part of the sales process is critical to eventually closing the sale. Arguably, it’s often what you do early on in the sales cycle that determines the result. It’s doubtful that you’ll snag a sale on the first visit to a potential customer. It takes time to nurture relationships, establish trust and prove your value. With a positive attitude, solid customer solutions and plenty of patience, you’ll be on your way to securing more ag retail sales.
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