The Great Transition

As I write this, I am still getting through the “information hangover” that always follows our PACE Advisory Council annual meeting. This was a particularly robust discussion with some new participants and lively opinions shared by all.

One of the primary goals of the meeting is to get a feel for the 2010 industry outlook and beyond from a wide range of perspectives. What we learn serves to shape our thinking and planning as we enter the season ahead. While there is certainly too much to cover in a single page, the overall theme is coming into focus: This is a time of transition.

This is especially true when it comes to the customers we service and how that impacts the sales force that represents our business on the front lines. As growers evolve, can we evolve our approach to sales and service to meet their needs and demands?

At PACE, we spent the better part of the morning talking about the increasing sophistication in the grower ranks. And although size does enter into the equation, it’s not about that as much as a fundamental change in approach — more professional, more business-like, and less relational.

That’s not to diminish the importance of relationships — this still carries a lot of weight. But more sophisticated growers are looking for advice on more fronts. Agronomy matters, but it’s one tool in a larger box that also includes risk management, financial planning, and growth opportunities — top growers are incorporating more voices into the decision-making process from more sources. If your goal is to provide “full service” to growers, do they truly perceive your dealership as the provider of that level of information? Is your sales force equipped with the kind of training and information that keeps your services front-of-mind with growers?

In some of the survey work we’ve done in preparation for our CropLife 100 and State of the Industry report coming up next month, retailers are clearly concerned about staying relevant with growers. An online survey of retailer perception of threats and opportunities for dealerships showed two particularly sensitive areas. Topping a list of 20 threats were these two: That manufacturers are trying to disintermediate the retailer by selling direct and that cash-and-carry “brokers” are setting up growers with low-service, low-price product.

We’re not surprised at all by this — growers can see as clearly as anyone that uncertainty increases as the ag economy becomes more globalized and, more significantly, they’ve felt the impact of it on their operations. It’s no wonder they want to control what they can.

So how do retailers carve out a niche with this subset of progressive growers? One PACE participant questioned whether it was even possible to get an established sales staff to think outside-the-box with more progressive growers. A second participant responded: “If a dealer can’t find a way to segment and service these growers, then maybe that dealership should consider whether or not they can stay in business.”

Harsh words perhaps, but perhaps it should serve as a conversation starter for retailers. We need to ask how confident are we that we’re meeting the needs of a grower-customer base in transition. And if we’re all about full service, what can we do to ensure our future advisory role with the grower?

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories

ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
Eric SfiligojMAGIE 2014: A ShowStopping Event
August 8, 2014
The kick-off to the summer show season, Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE), takes place next week in Bloomington, IL. Read More
EmployeesAsmark Institute Dedicates New Training Center To Ford West
August 6, 2014
The Asmark Institute plans to recognize the retired industry leader's years of service to the fertilizer industry at the new state-of-the-art facility in Owensboro, KY. Read More
StewardshipMonsanto Joins Panel Of Innovators To Advance Research On Climate Change And Farming
July 30, 2014
Monsanto Co. and The Climate Corp., its division, recently joined a roundtable of experts at the White House to share ideas and research approaches to help the world’s farmers manage and adapt to the impact of climate change on the global food supply. Read More

Trending Articles

EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide Program
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Lemon Ag Services
August 4, 2014
The acquisition of Lemon Ag fits BRANDT’s aggressive corporate strategy of providing superior agronomic advice and services for customers in central Illinois. Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Resurgence Of Crop Protection
August 4, 2014
Plenty of new offerings over the next few years should see a rebirth for the crop protection products category in terms of market share. Read More
LegislationUSDA Implements Key Farm Bill Crop Insurance Provision
July 30, 2014
The new Supplemental Coverage Option, available through the federal crop insurance program and set to begin with the 2015 crop year, is designed to help protect producers from yield and market volatility. Read More

Latest News

CropLife 100GROWMARK CEO To Retire
August 22, 2014
GROWMARK chief executive officer Jeff Solberg has announced his retirement effective September 15, 2014. Read More
InsecticidesDuPont’s Prevathon Approved For Dry Beans
August 22, 2014
DuPont Prevathon insect control powered by Rynaxypyr has received EPA registration for foliar use on dry bean crops, including dried shelled peas and beans. Read More
ManagementNCGA DuPont New Leaders Program Enters Sophmore Season
August 20, 2014
The National Corn Growers Association and DuPont are pleased to announce the second year of the NCGA DuPont New Leaders Program. Read More
FungicidesVerdesian Links Up With Mitsui, Hokusan
August 20, 2014
Mitsui Chemicals Agro, Inc., and Hokusan Co., announced the signing of an exclusive licensing agreement allowing Verdesian Life Sciences global access to its patented technology for suppressing mycotoxin contamination in wheat and barley. Read More
SprayersUniversity Of Illinois Introduces New Spray App
August 18, 2014
University of Illinois Extension has released a new smartphone app for making sprayer-related calculations. Pesticide Spray Calculator, or Spray Calc, Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Names New Manager Of Federal Government Relati…
August 18, 2014
Laura Wood Peterson has joined Syngenta as manager of federal government relations, based in Washington, DC. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science …
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces Factory Layoffs
August 18, 2014
Deere & Co. has announced it will reduce the size of its manufacturing workforce at some agricultural equipment factories in response to current market demand for its products. Read More
HerbicidesNew DuPont Afforia Herbicide Gives Crops A Clean Start
August 18, 2014
DuPont Afforia is a preplant herbicide for soybeans and other field crops that provides excellent burndown and residual control of many challenging weeds, such as marestail and waterhemp. Read More
Equipment21 Products Showcased At MAGIE 2014
August 18, 2014
The annual Midwest AG Industries Exposition is upon us. Here is CropLife IRON's look at some of the products visitors can expect to see at this week's event. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Seeks Nominations For 2014 Operator Of The Year
August 15, 2014
Ag retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada are encouraged to nominate their best applicators. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More
ManagementCropLife’s Buyers’ Guide Issue Now Availabl…
August 13, 2014
One of our most read issues of the year — the August Buyers' Guide — is ready to download on the iPad. This popular issue features equipment for "In The Field," "At The Plant" and "In The Office." Read More
WebinarsWebinars On Demand
August 13, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
HerbicidesBASF: Fall Burndown Benefits Go Beyond Weed Control
August 12, 2014
While unpredictable weather may delay application timing of spring herbicides, more growers are adding a burndown application in the fall Read More
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide P…
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More
StewardshipNitrogen Efficiency Supports Environmental Stewardship
August 12, 2014
As growers prepare for another harvest, it’s important to consider how nitrogen stabilization not only supports healthy plant growth but also fosters environmental stewardship. Read More
Seed/BiotechMycogen Seeds Introduces 19 New Corn Hybrids For 2015
August 12, 2014
Many of the new hybrids feature Mycogen's SmartStax Refuge Advanced technology for maximum protection of the genetic potential and planting convenience. Read More