As a sales manager, you’re looking for ways to increase seed sales so you can hit your revenue goals. But the added challenge of working with dealers and distributors alongside your own sales team means there are many pieces to making that happen.
There is a common denominator for both teams. Of course, I’m talking about the grower; specifically, their needs and challenges that your specific seed is going to solve.
Thus, for both sales teams to be aligned, they need to have the right information about the grower so they can both head in the same direction: helping increase yields and improve the farm operation.
Here are three steps that will help you increase seed sales.
Become the expert in the market you serve
While you may have a general idea of who your customers are – after all, you’re the one who provides the product that serves the market – it’s generally not enough to align an entire sales operation.
The trick for seed companies is that because you often sell through dealers, you don’t have that detailed customer information that someone selling direct to farmers would otherwise have.
Also, although you may have an idea of who your current customer is, there’s no guarantee that’s your ideal customer. There may be opportunities out there you just don’t know about.
So while you may have a general idea of who comprises your market, you still need to a) validate it with hard data, and b) drill down to the individual grower so you can see a picture of each operation. This will help you understand the specific needs of the grower that you’re selling to.
When doing your research, don’t just grab a prospect list and start cold calling. Really invest in good data so you get the fullest picture of your farmer-prospects and the overall market.
Here are some of the pieces of data you should be looking at when identifying your prospects:
- The number of acres of your crops that farmers have planted (you can segment this by region to help individual district sales managers focus on the growers they’re serving)
- The actual crop rotation pattern so your salespeople can accurately predict which crops growers are looking to plant, rather than assume a 50-50 rotation
- The spend potential of your market, specifically as it relates to seed, so you know which farmers are going to be a good fit for your product
Once you have this information, use the data listed above to identify who in your market is the best fit for your seed products. Then use that information to provide an actionable market your salespeople can act on.
Provide dealers with the information they need to increase seed sales
Once you’ve determined who your ideal customer is and figured out who you’re selling to, your sales team can work together with your dealers to increase seed sales.
While the relationship with the dealer is an important factor in whether or not a farmer makes a purchase – indeed, it’s one of the top factors – ultimately, farmers are going to base their decision on the product you’re offering them.
That’s why growers are checking test plot results thoroughly. They want to evaluate your product and see what is going to generate the maximum yield, and profitability, for their farm.
This is where the research you’ve done ahead of time can help. You want to make sure dealers are equipped with the information they need to offer the right product at the right time.
Point them in the right direction by sharing that information, that way you know they’re maximizing their time in the field by talking to the growers that are going to be the best fit for your seed.
As the sales manager, you can equip your dealers with the information they need – with both of you ultimately moving the farmer further along their path to purchase.
Become invested in the long-term relationships
Just because the dealer “owns” the relationship with the grower, that doesn’t mean your company isn't involved. In fact, when your salespeople are armed with information about the farm operation, they can be a second voice that helps sell your product to the farmer.
This allows you to manage customers and prospects from the “top down,” rather than relying on an often incomplete “bottom-up” approach.
When your salespeople know the challenges and opportunities that farmers are facing, they’ll be able to help them solve those problems and maximize opportunities. Of course, you’ll want to put your own seed products front-and-center and show how you can be of value. But the conversation is framed primarily around helping the farmer – and being specific about how you can help them.
Think of it this way. You already know the grower is going to purchase seed. The question is, whose seed are they going to purchase?
The answer, of course, is the seed that gives them the best results. And how do you know what the best results for the farmer are going to be? It’s through the information you’ve gathered.
When you have a relationship with the farmer, you can contribute to the work your dealer is doing by using your know-how to solve the farmer’s challenges with your product.
That will set your dealer up to close the deal, and deliver a win both for your seed company and the farmer.