How to Stop Missing Opportunities in the Ag and Farm Equipment Industry
September 27, 2019 By Paul Cherry Leave a comment
Leaving “money on the table” in ag sales
It is very important to never overlook opportunities in the agriculture equipment industry. I was consulting with a tire wholesaler, which worked with a number of ag equipment dealers. These dealers have a lot of inventory sitting on their lots. One way to move that inventory is to configure it to meet the needs of a specific farmer. For example, a farmer may grow alfalfa, but the dealer has a tractor that’s set up for corn farming. By switching out the wheelsets — a relatively inexpensive modification— the dealer can set up the tractor for alfalfa and close a sale.
New wheelsets require new tires — and in a hurry. So when the dealer calls the tire wholesaler, the sales rep jumps on the order. It’s a quick and lucrative deal. The sales rep is happy. The dealer is happy. The farmer is happy.
Everybody’s happy. Maybe a little too happy — because a huge opportunity was missed.
Up-selling and cross-selling agriculture deals
I worked with the tire wholesaler’s sales team to turn these calls into up-selling and cross-selling opportunities. Instead of simply taking the order, I urged sales reps to ask a series of follow-up questions. For example:
- Hey, Jacob. While I have you on the phone, tell me about some of the other hard-to-move tractor equipment sitting on your lot right now. How long has it been there? As it sits, are you concerned by what it’s costing you in terms of financing charges, overhead, or other factors?
- Also, what kind of farm equipment is in high demand? If you could swap out this equipment with different tractor wheelsets to meet the needs of farmers, do you think you could move inventory off your lot?
- And, by the way, who else at the dealership is facing this problem?
When the wholesaler’s sales team asked these type of questions, there was great success. It unleashed a torrent of additional business. Jacob might be working on one deal, but there are likely to be seven other Jacobs at the dealership who are trying to move other pieces of hard-to-sell tractor equipment. And there might be three other branches across the state. By asking for an up-sell or cross-sell, a single easy sale becomes a huge opportunity.
Check out this sales rep workshop: Cross-selling and Upselling Strategies
Prospects vs. existing customers in agriculture sales
There are two ways to get a sale in the ag industry:
- Selling to new prospects.
- Selling something new to existing customers.
Of course, the first is necessary if you want sales to grow in the long term. But selling to existing customers is more efficient.
You’ve got to leverage the work you’ve already done. Existing customers know you and understand how you add value. And you know your customers. Because you have painstakingly developed a strong relationship, the knowledge you’ve acquired serves as the foundation for a new sale.
These opportunities are extraordinarily valuable for another reason as well: The buyer has already made a decision to do business with you. And that’s the biggest decision that any buyer must make: Do I believe in this sales professional? Are they willing and able to help me?
What’s more, existing customers have an emotional and psychological investment in buying from you again, because it validates their previous decision to buy from you. Nobody wants to think they made a mistake. That’s why the best time to explore another sales opportunity is right after you’ve closed the current deal. Your buyer’s perception of you is at an all-time high.
Reasons why agriculture sales reps fail
So why do agriculture sales reps fail to secure new opportunities after securing the current deal? The primary reason is, they don’t have a plan. Their concentration and energy is focused on closing that original sale. When they hear that “yes,” they feel a huge sense of relief and elation. They’ve just scored a win, and they want to enjoy it.
The other reason sales reps hold back is because they don’t want to push their luck. They believe it’s better to get a few crumbs than nothing. Or they don’t want to come across as greedy or ungrateful. That’s a valid concern — a clumsy attempt can tarnish your reputation with a customer. They may be leery about buying from you again.
Asking the right questions to find more opportunities
On the other hand, if you ask great questions to discover your customer’s problems and what these problems are costing in terms of time and resources, you’re not being greedy or pushy. You are building a solution that will alleviate problems and meet their goals. If you truly believe you can create more value for your customer, you have an obligation to explore more opportunities. The primary benefit of seeking new opportunities, in the agriculture equipment industry, is that you position yourself as a strategic partner to your customer. You’re not simply an order-taker. Smart buyers will see that you’re thinking one step ahead and helping them solve problems instead of simply reacting to them.