Prospecting new farmer customers can be time-consuming, and you may be tempted to deprioritize or avoid it. But if you want to fight off attrition, it’s time to kickstart your prospecting efforts.
Many of the salespeople we work with aren’t doing any prospecting right now. So if you’re one of those people, take comfort. Prospecting is a time-consuming effort, and if you’re the only one responsible for finding and selling to customers in your territory, it’s easy for prospecting to fall by the wayside.
But what if there was a better way to prospect? What if with the combination of data, relationship information, and targeted, focused communications, you could invest your time strategically and yield more results?
This article will introduce you to the “bottom-up” approach to sales prospecting. Instead of constantly hitting large farms with email after email, cold call after cold call, you can use data to begin integrating smaller farms into your prospecting, build personalized connections with them and increase your chance of closing deals. It’s a solid way for you to kickstart your prospecting efforts.
The challenges of a “top-only” approach
Many ag salespeople prospect – if they even prospect at all – using a “top-only” approach – only reaching out to larger farms with higher price points in an attempt to maximize ROI. But there are several problems with this strategy:
- It creates more competition for you. You may be going after these high-dollar clients, but so is everyone else. That means you may be drowned out among all the other messages, making each connection less effective.
- It’s impersonal. In an attempt to cut through the noise, you and your competitors make your emails more provocative in order to get their attention. This ultimately becomes a race to the bottom, fostering inauthentic communication and making it difficult to build a relationship with the farmers.
- It leaves out a large, untapped pool. Farms growing fewer than 500 acres rarely receive the onslaught of solicitations that the larger farms do. While their price point is definitely lower, the lack of competition could make closing deals with these farms easier.
The “Bottom-Up” Approach to Selling to Farmers
With the right data, you can start tapping into the pool of smaller farms today. Here are four steps to get started:
- Start by gathering data on all the farms in your territory.
The first step is to gather all the data you can. This not only is going to help you build your strategy, but it’ll help you personalize communications and tailor your product offerings when you’re later in the process.
Some important data you’ll need to gather:
- Name, address and county
- Operator status
- Phone number
- Email address
- Crops and acres grown
- Livestock type with her size
- Gross Farm Income
- Field boundaries
- Farmstead location
- Related grower information
- Contact information for those related growers
Our FarmFocus data will give you everything you need to get started. Watch this video to find out more.
- Organize your data into a hierarchy.
Once you’ve gathered all your data, the next step is to organize each of your growers into a hierarchy that will enable you to build your bottom-up strategy. Here’s an example of a hierarchy you could use:
- Small: 0-500 acres
- Medium: 500-2,000 acres
- Large: 2,000+ acres
The goal is to start connecting with the smaller farms, using the data to make targeted and personalized connections.
Depending on your product or service, you certainly don’t want to exclude the large farms. But going after small farms, where there’s less competition, will help you bring in new customers and dollars quickly.
- Identify the relationships between the smaller and larger farms.
FarmFocus has a built-in Related Grower tool that lets you see all the various relationships that each grower has. With a tool like this, you can easily see how the small farms connect to the larger farms.
Use this information to strategically target those smaller farms that are going to be most likely to connect you with larger farms. So instead of prioritizing based on the value of their potential purchase, your prioritizing based on the value of the potential relationship, which will provide a steadier foundation and work better for you over the long term.
- Reach out and start selling
The next step is to start building relationships. With the data available to you in FarmFocus, you’ll have all the information you need to match your solutions to their needs in a specific, personalized way. So go forth and sell!
And if you’re out in the field, the mobile-ready app FieldVision will help you access this data automatically based on your geographic location.
How to Get Started with the “Bottom-Up” Model
Now it’s time to get started and implement the “bottom-up” model. Here are a few tips to get started:
- Make sure you have reliable grower data. This entire strategy hinges on having accurate data that can inform those strategic decisions you have to make. This is where Farm Market iD is best positioned to help you implement this strategy. (Feel free to reach out to us with any questions you have.)
- Personalize each message. The key differentiator between you and your competitors is that in using the bottom-up approach, you’re focusing on building relationships with farmers rather than simply blasting out email communications and playing the numbers game. As a result, it’s crucial for you to take a little extra time with each email message – whether it’s an email or a cold call – to make sure you’re saying something that’s going to resonate with that person and spark a long-lasting relationship.
- Focus on the farmers, not on your products. Building a relationship with farmers can’t be one-sided. You can’t just focus on you and your products. You have to focus on them and provide the solution to their problems.