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Win at the Farmgate

A How-To guide for preparing your team for farmgate visits

man walking with dog at the farmgate

As we know, cold calling in the ag industry is a little different. More often than not, a cold call isn’t a call at all but is instead a farmgate visit. This is why instead of giving your team call scripts to memorize, conducting role-play training may be more valuable.

Many people mistakenly believe that their ability to hold a lively conversation is enough to make a sale happen. Unfortunately, while this is a great skill to have, it’s not always enough. High-performing ag retailers have both the charm and the science to support a successful farm visit.

This is where training through role-playing can push retailers ahead of the pack to get qualified leads. Role-playing guides can be particularly beneficial for getting your reps comfortable with tackling questions such as “why should I purchase your products when I already have a guy I’ve worked with for ten years?”. You know, the easy questions. Practice ensures that you maintain a professional demeanor and communicate your desired message as efficiently and clearly as possible.

So what does a good role-play training session include? 

The Different Types of Objectives

What are you trying to get out of the farm visit? Do you want to schedule some additional in-the-field time? Are you inviting the grower to attend an event? There are many valid reasons for farm gate visits to a potential customer, so your frontline guys should have a solid objective for their visits. Discussing those objectives ahead of time will help your team map out how their visits should go. 

How to Make the Farmgate Visits Feel Authentic

Farm visits should have at least some variations for each type of customer your team is targeting. Every grower has different product needs, pain points, yield goals, and objections. Be prepared to address their unique needs. If a conversation is too generalized, the visit will definitely feel scripted, setting the meeting up for a quick closed-lost situation. Your role-play training should teach sales reps how to make their cold farm visits feel more natural and authentic. Let’s look at an example of how you can structure your sessions.  

  • Divide your team into pairs and assign one as the farmer and one as themselves (an ag retailer)
  • In a fishbowl, have scenarios written out for both the farmer and the retailer to choose. Examples may be: 
    • If the farmer doesn’t have time to speak with you, how do you ask for a follow up conversation later?
    • How to convince a farmer to give you part of a field to demonstrate a new product.
    • How your company’s services are different from the competition. 
  • Have participants practice different selling strategies while following the scenarios they chose.
  • Offer feedback on what they did well and what they could improve.

Practicing these types of scenarios can help your team sound more natural during actual visits. In ag, relationships are what give your company a competitive advantage, so make sure your sellers have what they need to build iron-clad relationships with their farmers.

Set aside some time periodically to gather your team and practice running through the role-play scripts you create. Maybe that looks like a monthly meeting or even a quarterly one. There’s no set rule for how often you have these role-play sessions, so you should schedule them however often you change the scripts. One potential cadence could be to switch things up at the beginning of every stage (i.e., planning, planting, growing, & harvesting). Doing so would ensure reps are always speaking about information and products relevant to their prospect.

Don’t make farmgate visits complicated. Your team is already good at holding conversations with farmers. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be your reps. Practicing set techniques and providing known conversation points to hit will help your frontline sellers excel at cold farm visits.

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