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

FertilizerCF Industries Terminates Merger Discussions With Yara International
October 21, 2014
CF Industries Holdings and Yara International have terminated their discussions regarding a potential merger of equals transaction. Read More
StewardshipThree Ohio Ag Retailers Honored With 4R Certification
October 13, 2014
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced its first three agriculture nutrient service providers to achieve certified status. Read More
FertilizerJ. R. Simplot To Build New Ammonia Plant In Rock Springs, WY
October 7, 2014
The new plant will supply both the Rock Springs, WY, and Pocatello, ID, phosphate fertilizer production locations while having the capacity to meet the company’s next phase of anticipated phosphate expansion plans at Rock Springs. Read More
CropLife 100Hintzsche Fertilizer To Sell Business To Helena
October 2, 2014
Hintzsche Fertilizer of Maple Park, IL, has agreed to sell its business to Helena Chemical Co., Collierville, TN, according to a report on ElburnHerald.com. Read More

Trending Articles

Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communities
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Found In Montana
October 3, 2014
USDA reports that one year after discovery of Monsanto's unapproved wheat in a single Oregon field disrupted U.S. wheat export sales, the GMO wheat has again been found in Montana. Read More
Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
The deadline to vote for the 2014 CropLife IRON Product of the Year is October 31. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More

Latest News

EquipmentAgraScout App Available At No Cost To Universities
October 21, 2014
AgraScout, a fast and easy to use mobile crop scouting app, is now available at no cost to University students, Read More
LegislationNew Farm Bill Program To Provide Relief To Farmers Affe…
October 21, 2014
The USDA has implemented a new Farm Bill initiative that will provide relief to farmers affected by severe weather, including drought. Read More
ManagementGreenfield Scholars Program Aims To Sustain Agronomy Wo…
October 21, 2014
The program encourages talented students to study agronomy, crop and soil sciences while cultivating networks to develop the necessary workforce to sustain the profession. Read More
Paul SchrimpfPrecision Ag: Taking It To The Hill
October 21, 2014
A new coalition took the good news message of precision agriculture to Washington, DC, last month. Read More
ManagementUSDA Awards $18 Million In Small Business Research Gran…
October 21, 2014
The grants will provide high quality, advanced research and development that will lead to technological innovations and solutions for American agriculture. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Terminates Merger Discussions With Yara I…
October 21, 2014
CF Industries Holdings and Yara International have terminated their discussions regarding a potential merger of equals transaction. Read More
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Ranked A Top 10 Biotech Employer For Third tim…
October 20, 2014
Syngenta ranked in the top 10 among the world’s top biotech employers, according to an annual survey conducted by Science magazine. Read More
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Break Ground For New Facility At Kennebec
October 20, 2014
Wheat Growers has broke ground for a state-of-the-art shuttle loader grain handling, fertilizer and agronomy facility in Kennebec, SD. Read More
FertilizerVerdesian Life Sciences Signs Agreement With Los Alamos…
October 20, 2014
Verdesian Life Sciences has signed a licensing agreement with Los Alamos National Laboratory to develop and market LANL’s latest nitrogen enhancement technology for plants. Read More
MicronutrientsStoller Group Announces Groundbreaking At New Office Bu…
October 20, 2014
Jerry Stoller, founder and president of Stoller Group, announced the groundbreaking at the site of the company’s future headquarters in Read More
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Opens New Production Facility In Nevada
October 20, 2014
BioSafe Systems has completed construction of a state-of-art production facility in Sparks, NV, for its line of activated peroxygen products. Read More
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScien…
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
Seed/BiotechEPA Approves Dow’s Enlist Duo Herbicide
October 15, 2014
The Enlist Weed Control System, breakthrough technology to fight resistant and tough weeds, has received the long-awaited green light from federal regulatory authorities. Read More
MicronutrientsGypsum On Farms Could Help Keep Water Clean, Not Green
October 14, 2014
Gypsum, which has roots in the past as a farm soil treatment, also may have a bright future, and not just as a booster of crops but also as a protector of water. Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Crop InputsVerdesian Grows Sales Staff
October 14, 2014
The new account managers will drive sales growth and support relationships with key customers in the plant nutrition and seed treatment and inoculants product categories. Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
October 14, 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
CropLife 100The Andersons Purchases Six Grain Elevators, Four Agron…
October 14, 2014
The Andersons has acquired Auburn Bean and Grain of Auburn, MI, which will increase the storage capacity of its Grain Group by about 13%. Read More
StewardshipThree Ohio Ag Retailers Honored With 4R Certification
October 13, 2014
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced its first three agriculture nutrient service providers to achieve certified status. Read More