Avoiding Silos in Your Agriculture Business

Posted by Steve Rao On April 12, 2018

 

Avoiding silos in your agriculture business.

 

Silos are great for grain storage. But they’re horrible for business.

It’s easy for your business to fall into the silo trap, where marketing does marketing and sales does sales – all within their own vacuums and echo chambers. Typically, silos start to form when the following happens:

  • Nonaligned priorities
  • Lack of information flow
  • Lack of coordinated decision making across silos

If one – or all – of these things are happening to you, then chances are you’ve fallen into the silo trap.

(Note: This article is part of the "Agricultural Business" series. Click here  to read the free guide.)

 Fortunately, reversing this process is within your reach. And when you’re using data to drive your decision making, then it’s even easier for you and your whole team.

Here are a few tips for avoiding silos, moving to a 360-degree view and, ultimately, integrating your strategy, marketing and sales.

1. Get everyone on the same page – with facts

One of the biggest contributors to a siloed operation is different teams using different facts and data. Sales teams gather insights from decision makers, customer service from end users, and marketing from the market as a whole.

While individual insights gathered from each team are valuable, they should validate, rather than provide, the information that guides the whole team. That’s because they don’t give you the full picture.

Instead, start with data gathered from fact-based sources, and then use individual insights to augment and complement that data. Use this data as the bridge that aligns your marketing and sales efforts, making sure that both teams are going after the same people.

2. Make sure everyone is using the same tools

Disintegrated data is just one contributor to misalignment. Another is the use of a myriad of tools across your teams.

For example, if your sales team is using a CRM that doesn’t integrate with your marketing software, marketing doesn’t get to benefit from the insights of the sales team, and vice versa. And when it comes down to it, it’s one unified funnel.

Most likely, your farmers are going to interact with marketing before they talk to a salesperson. You want to make sure that your salespeople are able to see that data – from ads clicked, Facebook posts liked, to forms filled out on the website – so they have the full picture of the farmer before they start the sales conversation

A good first step is to give everyone access to your company’s CRM – at least to be able to read. It’s even better if the CRM integrates with your marketing automation tools. That way the entire path to purchase is tracked for everyone to see.

3. Collect feedback from other team members

Executives are responsible for making strategic decisions, but if those decisions aren’t informed by marketing and sales insights, then it’s possible the strategy won’t be actionable.

People in any discipline can inadvertently put blinders on and become overly focused on what they’re doing. And that’s not always a bad thing.

But when tunnel vision accompanies an already siloed organization, then no one is going to be rowing in the same direction, which, at the end of the day, is revenue.

While marketing people are best positioned to make marketing decisions and sales management are positioned to make sales decisions, it’s always a good idea to gain insights from other team to provide a more holistic perspective.

And when you share information and start from a common framework of data, it’s easier for everyone involved to be informed when offering feedback and suggestions, so you not only get varied feedback, but informed feedback.

4. Don’t assume

In an industry as established as agriculture, assumptions and intuition are a part of how we operate.

But in an age of disruption and evolution, assumptions are less valuable than you’d think. The market is changing, and it’s changing at breakneck speed. If your strategy, marketing and sales teams are good at what they do, they’re evolving their own practices to keep up with changing times.

Here are some assumptions you shouldn’t make:

  • Don’t assume your marketers are marketing the same way they were a decade ago. And if they, don’t assume the market is going to respond to the message the same way.
  • Don’t assume that your ideal customer is synonymous with your current customer. It’s possible that there are pockets of opportunity that you aren’t even aware of.
  • Don’t assume that your products or services still offer the same value to farmers. Technology, automation, and a down economy all mean that farmers are re-evaluating what actually offers value to them.

If you make these assumptions, it's possible that they'll pan out. But then again, they may not. You sure you want to take that risk?

Having fact-based data that inform your decision making and guides marketing and sales teams is the key to avoiding assumptions and making informed, actionable decisions.

5. Establish a true S-M-S cycle

We talk a lot about how strategy should inform marketing which, in turn, informs sales. However, this isn’t a linear process, but a cyclical one.

If your sales team is truly focused on learning about customers and gaining insights on how your business can best help them, then those insights should inform the strategy process, working with your market data to provide a 360-degree picture of who your ideal customer is.

When this is all together, you’ll build a true S-M-S cycle that involves continual planning, data, and execution to achieve business success.

To learn more details about the process of aligning strategy, marketing and sales, watch the recording of our recent webinar here.

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