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
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes Announces Minnesota Water Quality Pa…
May 25, 2016
Governor Mark Dayton and Land O’Lakes, Inc. President and CEO Chris Policinski today announced a new public-private partnership to protect 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
Corn close up
Crop InputsArysta LifeScience Establishes Global Headquarters In R…
May 25, 2016
Arysta LifeScience has announced plans to relocate its global headquarters from West Palm Beach, FL, to Cary, NC, over the Read More
fertilizer blending and storage, Top 100
BlendersCHS Dakota Expansion Features AGCO’s GSI InterSys…
May 25, 2016
The continued growth of precision agriculture has increased farmer use of customized fertilizer blends best-suited for their soil conditions. Several Read More
ManagementAgriculture 3.5: A Bumpy Road Ahead
May 24, 2016
You may have read my article a few years ago on Agriculture 3.0, which is a term I coined to Read More
Topcon’s X30 display with CropSpec sensors
EquipmentGPS Autosteer Systems: Product Updates From Precision A…
May 24, 2016
Throughout 2015 GPS Steering solutions continued to evolve from what was once an after-market add on, to today’s cab where Read More
Trimble TMX-2050 In-Cab Display
Eric SfiligojThe Precision Ag Revolution Continues
May 24, 2016
It’s funny how much “the first time” tends to mean to someone as they get older. I sometimes can’t recall Read More
Eric Wintemute, AMVAC
Precision AgAMVAC Ups The Ante With New Precision Ag Technology
May 24, 2016
A potentially industry-changing at-plant soil treatment system from American Vanguard Corp., or AMVAC, is coming soon to large growers in Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
CropLife 100CropLife 100 Map
May 24, 2016
The new CropLife 100 map shows the locations of each of the headquarters of the 2015 CropLife 100 retailers. The interactive Read More
Southern States Cooperative
Corn Field
Industry NewsTiger-Sul Names Veteran Account Manager To Lead Central…
May 23, 2016
With the continuing growth of the sulphur bentonite and precision crop nutrient industry, global agriculture firm H.J. Baker has announced that Read More
Bayer sign
Industry NewsReuters: Bayer Defies Critics With $62 Billion Monsanto…
May 23, 2016
German drugs and crop chemicals group Bayer has offered to buy U.S. seeds company Monsanto for $62 billion in cash, Read More
Eric SfiligojPity The Monsanto Haters
May 23, 2016
An old saying goes thus: “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.” Given current events, there Read More
Industry NewsCompass Minerals Hires Industry Veteran To Lead Plant N…
May 19, 2016
Compass Minerals has hired plant nutrition industry veteran Vatren Jurin to steer the company’s portfolio expansion into specialty liquid micronutrient Read More
ASMARK Retailers LIVE! Tour 2016 Group shot The Andersons
CropLife 100The Andersons Rejects Unsolicited Proposal From HC2
May 19, 2016
The Andersons, Inc. has announced that its Board of Directors has rejected two non-binding, highly conditional, unsolicited proposals from HC2 Read More
glyphosate
Crop InputsWHO: Glyphosate ‘Unlikely’ To Cause Cancer
May 16, 2016
Via Reuters.com reporter Kate Kelland: The weed-killing pesticide glyphosate, made by Monsanto and widely used in agriculture and by gardeners, Read More
dicamba, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend
Crop InputsASA: No Dicamba On Roundup Ready 2 Xtend In 2016
May 16, 2016
While Roundup Ready 2 Xtend (RR2X) are tolerant to dicamba and glyphosate herbicides, no dicamba herbicides will be approved for Read More
CPP, glyphosate, dicamba, atrazine,
Crop InputsReport: Congress Pressing EPA On Glyphosate Review Hand…
May 16, 2016
Via Reuters.com reporter P.J. Huffstutter: U.S. lawmakers have asked EPA to explain why it published – and then withdrew – Read More