Agriculture is changing. Is your sales team and their approach changing with your customers?
No matter what type of business you are in, if your customers are involved in agricultural their businesses have changed over the last decade. Have you reviewed your sales approach or how you identify, recruit and train your sales professionals to adjust to these changes?
Today’s agribusinesses are multi-million dollar enterprises operating in a fast paced, economically challenging business environment. They expect, no demand, much more from the sales professionals they interact with than just product knowledge. Doug, is the owner of a successful agribusiness selling to farmers. His story is typical of what many businesses are facing right now.
The company’s success had been built around excellent products and one-on-one relationships between the farmers and the company. As the farms grew in size their needs changed and having good products and good relationships wasn’t enough. The customers needed sales professionals who could help them identify problems and opportunities on the farm and develop and deliver products or solutions that would solve the problems.
Doug was noticing that his sales reps were not bringing value to larger farms. The reps reported that they seemed to have trouble gaining access to, or getting decisions from, the owners and managers of these farms. Doug turned to Ogburn Solutions to help him identify the challenges his reps were facing and to develop and implement solutions to those challenges.
- The reps were focused on product specifications and prices but they didn’t really understand the big picture on the farm.
- They didn’t understand the economic and business drivers of various roles on the farm so they were not focused on the customer’s challenges.
- Walt developed and delivered the training to prepare the reps to bring value to their customers, and he observed the reps as they called on their customers and gave them feedback.
Walt worked with Julie, the sales manager and the HR manager to define the skills and experiences necessary for a new rep to be successful in the role, and the competencies needed over their career to ensure they continued to be successful. This information was turned into documents Julie and the HR manager could use to recruit, interview, and train new representatives. Together they also refined their performance review process to align with these competencies.
Investing in People
Initially Doug was concerned about spending money to develop these plans and documents. Eventually he realized that he needed to invest in his people just like he invests in his facilities. Doug knew the average profit margin on their line so he could easily calculate how many dollars of new business each rep would need to generate for each $1000 invested in this project. It became clear that if each rep were successful at adding one key product to one customer’s portfolio the additional profit would offset the investment in the first year. A sales team that is more effective at identifying and addressing customers’ needs will pay additional dividends for years.
Are your ready to take action? Contact Walt