Selling in rural areas is a far cry from selling in urban and suburban environments.
While most agribusiness happens outside of urban areas, if you’re new to rural sales, you may encounter challenges when breaking into the rural markets you’re targeting.
Rural areas are generally less diverse and more community-focused than other markets. This offers great opportunity for long-term relationship sales and marketing, but limits your ability to make a quick sale.
To better reach your rural clients, consider some of the following tips on how to sell in rural areas.
Engage in Communities
Since rural communities function as more tightly knit groups than urban communities do, it’s important to engage in the communities that you’d like to serve. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time in a specific community, you need to engage in the things that people in that community care about.
Maybe this means making yourself known at the local watering hole or attending community events, like festivals or concerts. In some communities, farmers gather at the local diner early in the morning for coffee and a chat. Maybe try showing up and introducing yourself, and then listen to their conversation.
Because of the community focus in smaller towns, you’ll find that many of the farmers you want to work with are already engaged in their community and part of a vibrant network that defines the culture of the town. This can make it initially more challenging to break into the market.
However, over time, as you get to know the community, you can win their trust and build relationships, something that’ll be invaluable as you try to sell.
Focus on Quality, not Quantity
The old adage of “quality over quantity” definitely comes into play when you’re selling in a rural area. First, it’s vital to remember that it’s the quality of relationships that you establish, rather than the quantity.
If you’ve got a product that retails at $300,000 and you know that smaller farmers can’t afford it, use your data to determine the farms where your product will add value, and where the farmer will feel comfortable with your introductory price points.
Population density is far lower in rural areas than it is in urban ones. This means that you’re going to have fewer potential customers, make fewer leads and net fewer sales than you might if you were marketing in a more densely populated area.
However, this doesn’t make rural areas a poor investment for your sales team’s time and talent. This is especially true if you’re selling a high-end product. When a single sale is several hundred figures, it only takes a couple to make the time spent worth your while.
When you have a solid connection in a community, you can depend on repeat business and individual sales that are likely higher than they might be for the one-off customers you might encounter in an urban setting. Once you win a customer, you may have them for life.
Become an Invaluable Resource
When you engage in the rural communities you serve and build relationships with the farmers who work there, you make yourself an invaluable resource to the farmers in that area.
Not only can you expect to be the first number that a farmer calls when they encounter an issue they know you can help them solve, but you can expect that your name and contact information will eventually make the rounds among other potential leads that need your services.
The key to building relationships with farmers in rural areas is to be honest and approachable. Cold selling techniques probably won’t work in this setting. However, investments of time and community engagement will make the difference for those that you serve - and will end up driving their business to your door.
Use Data to Put the Pieces Together
When it comes to making connections in rural territories, use your data to determine how to reach the farmers there. If you start with solid data, you can get develop an informed sales strategy to reach rural markets. Do your homework ahead of time to guide your conversations on the ground.
But don’t let your sales strategies be limited by your data. While data can inform your initial strategies, information that you learn as you engage on the ground can influence future data interpretation. This is especially useful if you plan to put a team on the ground and need to train them on how to reach farmers in the territory.
Your data and community involvement should inform one another to strengthen your sales strategies and deepen community connections.