The Create Step

In this column, we’ll discuss the Create step in Solution Selling for Ag. You have three objectives at this step:

  1. Stimulate interest in your offer or service.
  2. Get the prospective customer to admit to “pain” or a business problem they have.
  3. Gain permission to continue the dialogue and agree on next steps.

You are not selling anything at the Create step, because you don’t know what the customer’s problem is yet, so any recommendations you make would likely not be on target.

Throughout these Solution Selling for Ag columns, I will reference various “job aides” that guide the selling process. Think of them as markers on the road, with Solution Selling as the overall map for getting to where we want to go: successfully closing the sale with a customer, and setting ourselves up for repeat business. There are two key job aides at the Create step: a Reference Story and initial Value Proposition.

We’ll deal with the Reference Story first. A Reference Story is most useful with prospects, but can be successfully used with current customers who are only giving you a part of their business. In these cases you are looking to capture additional opportunity. An example is shown below.

The Reference Story presents a potential grower business problem (pain), and offers an example of how you helped solve a similar problem for someone else. Properly chosen, the Reference Story establishes credibility and creates interest with the grower to discuss his own problem.

Getting Pain Admitted

Solution Selling is not prescription based. Rather, we collaborate with the customer to develop customized solutions for his problem. Unless we know what the problem is, our proposed solutions are clumsy, cookie-cutter efforts that can just as easily be found on the Internet.

The first thing we learn about pain or customer problems in Solution Selling is “pain flows through a grower’s entire operation.” In life, one problem is typically linked to another problem. With proper questioning techniques, we uncover the customer’s “pain chain” to get at root causes, so our solutions and recommendations are focused. In the example, I show an initial pain chain based on a potential revenue problem. As we ask additional questions, we refine our understanding of the grower’s problems and develop a customized solution that addresses his needs. At this point, however, I don’t have a real understanding of what the “reasons” for the pain are, so I write down several options I can discuss with the grower. Developing pain chains should become an integral part of your pre-call planning.

OK — you’ve prepared yourself on some potential issues the grower might be facing. Let’s dig deeper into getting pain admitted. At this point in the sales call, you have introduced yourself (with a prospect), and likely shared a Reference Story to build credibility. A good way to transition to getting pain admitted is to say something like: “But enough about my company. Tell me about your situation.” Depending on how freely the grower is prepared to speak, you may need to help the situation by asking either “Situation Questions” or “Menu of Pain” questions.

Situation questions present the customer with a potential scenario in which they can provide information about what their business situation might be. Here are some examples you could use with prospects and current customers:
With Prospects. “Do you believe your current retailer has helped you maximize your returns?”
“Has product availability ever caused down time or adjustments in your crop plans?”
With Current Customers. “How could we better meet your needs in terms of the products and services we provide?”
“Help me understand how we could better help you achieve your goals?”

Alternatively, you might ask “Menu of Pain” questions. For example: “The top three difficulties we are hearing from other customers of other retailers are:
I believe I am leaving yield on the table.
I need help adopting new technology.
I’ve had difficulty sitting down with my retailer to resolve performance concerns. Are you facing any of these issues today?”
OR
“Are you curious how we have helped our customers deal with these issues?”
The Create step in Solution Selling stimulates interest for your product or service offer.

Summary

To do this, we need to target a potential customer problem, otherwise we are likely shooting in the dark. After introducing the reason for our call, we might use a Reference story the grower can relate to which will encourage further discussion. We transition to getting pain admitted by asking the grower to tell us about his situation or operation. This gives us the opportunity of asking either Situation or Pain type questions which will help us develop an initial Value Proposition we can present. Building Value Propositions and moving the dialogue to the Develop step is our topic for next month.

Regrettably, this overview is from a 30,000-foot level. I would be pleased to answer any of your questions in an e-mail or on the phone.

Leave a Reply

Management Stories

Measuring Bulk Tanks
StewardshipMeister Media Among 2017 Award Winners Presented By The Pesticide Stewardship Alliance
February 21, 2017
The Pesticide Stewardship Alliance (TPSA) held its annual conference in San Diego, CA, earlier this month where three awards were Read More
Roy Blunt
LegislationARA Recognizes Blunt, Heitkamp For Legislative Efforts Supporting Agriculture
February 17, 2017
Agricultural industry continues to face federal regulatory challenges. Thankfully, agriculture’s allies in the U.S. Senate stepped forward. The Agricultural Retailers Read More
LegislationThe Fertilizer Institute Commends Senate On Confirmation Of New EPA Administrator
February 17, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President Chris Jahn issued the following statement on the Senate confirmation of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Read More
Trump, Senate, Cabinet
LegislationBREAKING: Trump EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt Confirmed by Senate
February 17, 2017
Scott Pruitt, who as Oklahoma’s attorney general spent years suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its efforts to regulate various Read More
Trending Articles
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls And Bears Impacting This Year’s Marketplace
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
Latest News
NFMS 17 Hagie Sprayer
Eric SfiligojThe Read From Louisville: Uncertain
February 22, 2017
By the time this column appears across the country, the annual Commodity Classic will be in full swing. This means Read More
SprayersApache 1000 Series Sprayer Earns 2017 EquipmentWatch Hi…
February 21, 2017
ET Works has been named a winner in the 2017 EquipmentWatch Highest Retained Value Awards program, the industry’s only award Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
StewardshipMeister Media Among 2017 Award Winners Presented By The…
February 21, 2017
The Pesticide Stewardship Alliance (TPSA) held its annual conference in San Diego, CA, earlier this month where three awards were Read More
John Reifsteck
CropLife 100GROWMARK’s Reifsteck Earns NCFC Director Of The Y…
February 21, 2017
GROWMARK Chairman of the Board and President John Reifsteck has earned the prestigious Director of the Year Award from the Read More
Roy Blunt
LegislationARA Recognizes Blunt, Heitkamp For Legislative Efforts …
February 17, 2017
Agricultural industry continues to face federal regulatory challenges. Thankfully, agriculture’s allies in the U.S. Senate stepped forward. The Agricultural Retailers Read More
LegislationThe Fertilizer Institute Commends Senate On Confirmatio…
February 17, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President Chris Jahn issued the following statement on the Senate confirmation of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Read More
Trump, Senate, Cabinet
LegislationBREAKING: Trump EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt Confirmed by S…
February 17, 2017
Scott Pruitt, who as Oklahoma’s attorney general spent years suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its efforts to regulate various Read More
ManagementFebruary Road Trip Edition
February 17, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent visits to Indiana and Kentucky. Read More
Heritage Cooperative Finished Building Aerial
ManagementHeritage Cooperative, Agland Co-op Approve Merger
February 17, 2017
Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative stockholders have both approved the merger agreement between Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative. Now begins Read More
LegislationARA Fly-In: Ag Retail Descends on Capitol Hill, Lawmake…
February 15, 2017
More than 100 agricultural retailers, distributors and suppliers headed to Capitol Hill Tuesday morning for the Agribusiness Congressional Fly-in, according to a Read More
Untreated soybean seed Heartland Coop
Seed/BiotechMarrone Bio Innovations, Groundwork BioAg Bio-stacked M…
February 13, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. and Groundwork BioAg, Ltd have announced successful seed treatment field trials of the world’s first all-biological Read More
NL5000 With G5 Technology
SpreadersNew Leader Introduces NL5000 Dry Nutrient Applicator Wi…
February 13, 2017
New Leader, a division of Highway Equipment Company (HECO), has announced the next generation of spreading technology with the NL5000 Read More
Fertilizer Storage
Crop InputsThe State Of The Fertilizer Industry
February 9, 2017
He’s all hat, no horse.” It’s a humorous way of describing a person who tells a good story, but is Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Agrees To Credit Agreement Amendme…
February 9, 2017
Pinnacle Operating Corp. has entered into an amendment (the “Amendment”) to its First Lien Credit Agreement that will provide for, Read More
ManagementUpdates on Upcoming Trips, Dow-DuPont, and the Des Moin…
February 9, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj review a few future travels, along with the latest on big company mergers and Read More
Championship Tractor Pull
EquipmentNational Farm Machinery Show Highlighted By Championshi…
February 9, 2017
The scream of monster engines, the stench of burning rubber and the ground-pounding vibrations of the country’s largest, loudest and Read More
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
Corn Field
InsecticidesArysta LifeScience, DuPont Collaborate On Rynaxpyr Prem…
February 8, 2017
Arysta LifeScience recently announced that it has entered into a global collaboration with DuPont Crop Protection for the development of Read More