The Ag Sales Person
by Frank Lee
Here is an anomaly. They sell some of the most sophisticated equipment in the world. Combine technology is more advanced than some of the astrophysical equipment with which it interacts.
Yet it’s being sold by a sales person with often no more than a high school diploma to a farmer who grew up mistrusting anything that has more buttons than his telephone.
This imbalance is dangerous because eventually one of them will have to rise to the level of sophistication of the equipment so the farmer can derive full value from this equipment.
Here’s the problem. If the farmer gets there first – and my bets are on the farmer – then the situation will arise where the farmer no longer needs the Ag sales person and may prefer not to deal with him at all. This means the very existence of an Ag sales person may be in jeopardy.
Does this worry the present Ag sales person? No. He is making no attempt to raise his level of sophistication, clinging instead to outdated beliefs. Even his selling methods are outdated. He is very lucky that his customer still depends on him at all. He defaults responsibility for his professional improvement to his managers.
One of my clients asked me a question that dealers should be asking: “How can we make our sales people more valuable to our customers?”
Now is the time to ask and answer this question. The opportunity to deal with this question diminishes with every day that passes.
Good sales people know that the best way to get customer satisfaction is to build follow-up into their presentations and sales. They establish and limit expectations and then over-deliver. Customer satisfaction starts before the sale is made.
Most Ag sales people are not even present when a $100,000 + piece of equipment is delivered to the farm. They rely on the setup person to do their job for them. This is extremely dangerous . Technicians don’t see themselves as salespeople and have a tough time when you ask them to try to sell anything, even more service.
There may be two keys to customer satisfaction – better pre-emptive work by the sales people and better salesmanship by the Aftermarket people.
Fortunately, there are a growing number of Ag sales people who have already seen the writing on the wall and are doing something about it. Funny, these are the same Ag sales people who have always done better than their competitors.