Solution Selling For Agriculture

Strategically-minded agronomy managers are looking for an improved sales process result

ing in better customer experience, loyalty, and profits. Do these challenges ring true for you?

•  Achieve meaningful differentiation from other retailers that creates a competitive advantage.

•  Achieve more accountability for results from sales.

•  Become more process driven vs. “working hard” to improve operations, management, and sales.

Several years ago, I was introduced to Solution Selling and learned selling could be a quality process with predictable outcomes like manufacturing. My selling performance improved as I learned this innovative approach to solving customer problems vs. selling products. In these columns, I’ll introduce Solution Selling for Agriculture, the customized-for-ag version of the

world class sales performance system used by Microsoft and Dell Computer. We’ll focus on key objectives of Solution Selling, and discuss how to implement this proven process in your retail business.

•  Understand how customers buy, to align your selling activities.

•  Distinguish between latent and active opportunities.

•  Learn effective pre-call planning.

•  Create interest/increase credibility with customers/prospects.

•  Get growers to share high priority “pain” in their operation.

•  Enlist consultative dialogue that differentiates your business.

•  Qualify and disqualify opportunities based on objective criteria.

•  Gain more control over sales cycles.

•  Improve your win odds through effective closing techniques.

•  Avoid no-decision with prospective buyers.

Solution Selling for Agriculture is the “Connect” portion of a business model I call Analyze, Plan, Connect, Review. Before diving into Solution Selling, I want to overview the components of the model. Next month, we’ll focus on “Create,” the first step in the Solution Selling process, and cover the “Develop,” “Prove,” “Close,” and “Implement” steps in subsequent columns. I’ll end next summer by detailing Analyze and Planning as these fit well at that time of year.

Analyze: Where Am I Today?

If you don’t know where you are going any road will take you there. Ag retailers typically need to focus more on analysis.

•  Conduct a strategic assessment of how well you are aligned with customers. The Retailer Performance Monitor described last month will provide ideas in this area, and create a baseline for efforts to become more aligned with customer needs.

•  It’s essential to measure your Share of Business with key customers. I recommend doing this on a category basis (Chemical, Fertilizer, Seed, Services) at the company and territory level, and for all key customers.

•  Create a high-level diagnosis of the problems facing each of your key customers and potential prospects. In the Create and Develop steps of Solution Selling, we’ll detail getting customers and prospects to reveal business problems that deepen your relationship and widen your opportunities.

•  Identify and quantify specific opportunities at your company level and for each key customer that drives your business. Do the same for prospects.

Following the analysis, plan how you will move your business forward. Planning without the analysis of where you are produces unpredictable results.

•  Forecast/set goals for a sales territory/customer.

•  Do pre-call planning.

•  Identify potential pain and how it affects areas of a grower’s business.

•  Use job aids to build pre-call plans,  and strategies.

Connect

Sales people want to achieve their goals. The problem is they’re not sure how to get there. That’s what Connecting in Solution Selling is all about: following a pathway that’s proven in other industries. Solution Selling has three essential goals:

•  Stimulate interest in your offering with prospects and growers who represent growth opportunities.

•  Diagnose the customer’s business problems and create a vision of a solution.

•  Use job aids to manage, coach, and produce high performance sales results.

At the end of each Solution Selling cycle with a customer, we recommend conducting a review with your key customers (and prospects too). This review should focus on how well the plan developed during the Close and Implement steps of Solution Selling has solved the customer’s business problems. It will provide you and your customer with an opportunity to confirm needs, and identify gaps in performance that — if not addressed — may lead to reduced share of business.

The diagram at left shows this process is wide and deep.

Philosophy: Solution Selling helps you understand customer needs and buying behavior. Better alignment with customers’ and prospects’ needs improves sales performance.

Map: A series of defined and measurable steps leading to a predictable beneficial result.

Job Aids: These are ag-specific templates, guidelines, and prompters that facilitate the right action, the right way at the right time.

Management System: Solution Sell­ing can help managers transform the business from an internal operations focus to an external customer focus.

Implementation: Achieve a sustainable High Performance sales culture focused on customer needs.

Solution Selling for Agriculture drives predictable, customer-focused selling that accomplishes critical results.

•  Increased share of business with high-potential customers.

•  Improved customer retention from better alignment of retailer “solutions” to customer problems.

•  Improved forecasting accuracy and pipeline management of opportunities.

•  Effective territory management.

•  Improved ability to develop and implement targeted selling campaigns.

Leave a Reply

Management Stories

Management2016 CTIC Cover Crop Survey: 33% Report ROI From Cover Crops
July 28, 2016
Insight from 2,020 farmers from across the country reflected enthusiasm for cover crops and—for the fourth year in a row—found Read More
ManagementNew Rabobank Report Calls for Farmer ROI Focus
July 25, 2016
As U.S. row crop farmers brace themselves for a third year of negative margins, Rabobank believes farmers must lower the Read More
ManagementGROWMARK Meeting Visit, Company Takeover Updates, and RNC Invite
July 22, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent speaking engagement at GROWMARK’s eastern event, crop protection company merger rumors, Read More
ManagementLand O’Lakes Announces SUSTAIN Business Unit, Other Changes
July 20, 2016
Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced the formal organization of a new business unit, SUSTAIN, and its leadership. SUSTAIN will focus Read More
Trending Articles
Southeast Farmers Coop - Finished Building
Retail FacilitiesNew Stueve Facilities Offer Ag Retailers Speed, Accuracy
July 9, 2016
Leading the industry in planning and constructing dry fertilizer storage and chemical warehouse solutions, Stueve Construction helped three ag retailers Read More
Heritage Cooperative
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Designs State-Of-The-Art Facility For Heritage Cooperative
July 4, 2016
Heritage Cooperative in Marysville, OH, needed an efficient liquid, dry and grain facility to serve the many needs of their Read More
The Andersons Waterloo
ManagementFirst Indiana Facility Certified Under 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program
June 27, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that The Andersons, Inc.’s Waterloo, IN, facility has been added to its Read More
Food IT
Industry NewsCalifornia Event Will Mix Ag And Tech Professionals To Explore IT Solutions
June 20, 2016
Silicon Valley is hot on agriculture, and an upcoming event in California will bring together the food and tech industries Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Eric SfiligojWhat’s Next For Monsanto?
May 31, 2016
For the folks at Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis, MO, it has been an eventful few weeks. Back on May Read More
Soybean Plant closeup
Industry NewsMonsanto Rejects Bayer Bid; Open To More Talks
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Co, the world’s largest seed company, turned down Bayer AG’s $62 billion acquisition bid as “incomplete and financially inadequate” Read More
Latest News
FertilizerGypsum Added To List Of Conservation Practices
July 28, 2016
Crop farmers in a growing number of states may be eligible for financial assistance from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Read More
Management2016 CTIC Cover Crop Survey: 33% Report ROI From Cover …
July 28, 2016
Insight from 2,020 farmers from across the country reflected enthusiasm for cover crops and—for the fourth year in a row—found Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesStudy: Fall Weed Controls Can Make Significant Impact O…
July 28, 2016
An article published in the latest issue of the journal Weed Science shows that adopting harvest-time and post-harvest weed controls Read More
InsecticidesSyngenta: Beware Of Early Stinkbug Threat To Soybeans
July 28, 2016
With the record warm temperatures this past winter and confirmations from early entomologist reports, Syngenta encourages growers to monitor stinkbug Read More
Peanut field
Crop InputsVerdesian Introduces New Inoculant For Peanuts
July 28, 2016
As planning begins for the next growing season, Verdesian Life Sciences adds Primo Power CL, a new liquid inoculant, to Read More
Soil Young Corn
Crop InputsSmithsonian: 5 Things to Know About New GMO Labeling Bi…
July 27, 2016
On July 14, the House of Representatives passed a bill requiring large food companies to label products containing genetically modified Read More
Palmer pigweed in soybean stubble
HerbicidesSpecial Issue Of Weed Science Explores Human Aspects Of…
July 27, 2016
Weeds that evolve resistance to herbicides are a serious threat to global agricultural production. In this Special Issue of Weed Science, Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100CHS Businesses In Washington, Idaho Combining For Great…
July 27, 2016
As full-service ag retailers, CHS Primeland and CHS Farmers Co-op collectively serve farmers and other customers in 15 counties in Read More
Storage Tanks at Nachurs
Crop InputsNACHURS Joins Field to Market
July 27, 2016
NACHURS announced today that it has joined Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, a leading multi-stakeholder initiative working Read More
Illinois Researchers
FertilizerMeasure Of Age In Soil Nitrogen Could Help Precision Ag…
July 26, 2016
What’s good for crops is not always good for the environment. Nitrogen, a key nutrient for plants, can cause problems Read More
Kochia
Crop InputsNufarm Launches New Herbicide for Resistant Kochia
July 25, 2016
Nufarm introduces Scorch herbicide for U.S. farmers and ranchers combating a broad range of troublesome broadleaf weeds. A unique premix Read More
ManagementNew Rabobank Report Calls for Farmer ROI Focus
July 25, 2016
As U.S. row crop farmers brace themselves for a third year of negative margins, Rabobank believes farmers must lower the Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsBloomberg: Syngenta-Chem China Deal on Track for Regula…
July 25, 2016
Syngenta AG, which has agreed to be taken over by China National Chemical Corp. for $43 billion, said talks with Read More
ManagementGROWMARK Meeting Visit, Company Takeover Updates, and R…
July 22, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent speaking engagement at GROWMARK’s eastern event, crop protection company merger rumors, Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto: EU Approves Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Imports
July 22, 2016
Monsanto Co. announced today that the European Commission has granted import approval for Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans. This milestone Read More
Syngenta headquarters in Basel, Switzerland
Crop InputsSyngenta Announces Alfalfa Seed Split Off
July 22, 2016
On September 1, 2016, Syngenta will transfer sales and distribution of alfalfa seed to the NEXGROW branded business that is Read More
Dow DuPont
Crop InputsDuPont, Dow Shareholders Approve Merger
July 21, 2016
DuPont and The Dow Chemical Company announced that, at their respective special meetings of stockholders held today, stockholders of both Read More
ManagementLand O’Lakes Announces SUSTAIN Business Unit, Oth…
July 20, 2016
Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced the formal organization of a new business unit, SUSTAIN, and its leadership. SUSTAIN will focus Read More