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

Latest News
ManagementAn Inside Look at Award Winning Ag Retailer Gar Tooteli…
April 20, 2017
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj discusses An Inside Look at Award Winning Ag Retailer Gar Tootelian Read More
Students Soybean Field
Industry NewsMACA Announces 2017 Young Leader Scholarship Recipients
April 19, 2017
The Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) Board of Directors selected 11 college students to receive the MACA Young Leader Scholarship Read More
Growmark FS Outlet
SoftwareKnoa Software Solution Helps GROWMARK Boost System Perf…
April 19, 2017
Knoa Software, a leading provider of user experience management (UEM) software, has announced that GROWMARK, Inc., a regional agricultural cooperative Read More
Crop InputsFBN Publishes ‘Voice of the Farmer’ Agricul…
April 17, 2017
Farmer’s Business Network (FBN) released today its “The Voice of the Farmer”, which the company is describing as “a special Read More
ManagementTalking Responsible Ag
April 13, 2017
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj discusses the Responsible Ag program with director Bill Qualls. Read More
Crop InputsFlying Under the Radar No More, FMC Goes Big
April 13, 2017
Describing FMC as “under the radar,” admittedly, is probably a stretch. But in a snap of the fingers, FMC upped Read More
Crop InputsWhat do Roundup and Mickey Mouse Have in Common? Califo…
April 13, 2017
(SOURCE: East Valley Times) Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto Co.’s Roundup and many other weed killers, is being added Read More
Syngenta headquarters in Basel, Switzerland
Crop InputsSource: ChemChina to Divest Assets to Adama Following S…
April 11, 2017
China National Chemical Corp. plans to redistribute agrochemical assets to its Adama unit after the $43 billion takeover of Syngenta Read More
Farming drone air
Eric SfiligojThe Interest in UAVs for Agriculture Grows
April 10, 2017
At times, it seems as if experts have been predicting “big things” for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for several years Read More
OpinionOpinion: Taking On The Farmers Business Network
April 8, 2017
Well, another round of venture capital funding has come to Farmers Business Network (FBN), followed up with the obligatory feature Read More
Drone
EquipmentFarming Drones: The Future Of Agriculture?
April 7, 2017
Chances are, you already know drones are amazing. After all, this is something DroneLife readers just understand. But if you’re Read More
ManagementFMC-DuPont, Crop Plantings, and UAV Updates
April 6, 2017
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Jackie Pucci discuss the purchase agreement between DuPont and FMC, the 2017 crop acreage mix and Read More
Falcon soil sampler
EquipmentSerious Soil Sampling Rigs
April 6, 2017
The industry has seen an increase in automation in sampling equipment, and consultants now often pull cores with an automated Read More
Iowa waterways
FertilizerDow AgroSciences Recognizes Ag Retailers’ Role in Prote…
April 6, 2017
The state of Iowa and its agriculture community have worked for decades to preserve soil health, protect water quality and Read More
Farmer Scouting Weeds in Soybean Field
EquipmentSoil, Scouting Programs Continue To Gain Value
April 5, 2017
How much growers and their retailers utilize soil testing and scouting varies greatly. But they should step up their game Read More
Forbes Mixing Bowl NYC
Precision Ag6 Key Takeaways from Forbes Mixing Bowl NYC
April 5, 2017
Advisory investment group The Mixing Bowl teamed up with Forbes for its New York-based event this year to discuss technology’s Read More
Pam Marrone
Crop InputsQ&A With Pam Marrone On The World’s First All-Biolo…
April 4, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations Inc. and Israel-based Ground­work BioAg in February announced successful field trials of the world’s first all-biological comprehensive Read More
Corn soil
Crop NutritionBiostimulants Clamor For A Piece Of The Row Crop Market
April 3, 2017
The question these days isn’t who is venturing into biostimulants — it’s who isn’t. Or more to the point: The Read More