Are you Forgetting to Have a Relationship with your Customers?
General George S. Patton once said, “If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn’t thinking.”
I’ve been in the seed business for 45 years and continue to love it, but I’ve discovered many companies in this industry think alike. So, someone is not thinking. How do I know that? According to the October 2017 edition of AgriMarketing, a 2017 Large Commercial Producer Project conducted by Purdue University found that farmers now consider product performance and price more important than relationships. If we, as an industry, recognize that kind of thinking exists and do nothing to change it, we’re not thinking.
The Purdue project really tells us that farmers aren’t being offered profit solutions outside of products and price, so what good are supplier relationships? It also indicates that ag suppliers are out of solutions for truly helping growers, except by way of product and program offerings. But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that product parity is too high to act as the sole factor for increasing yield and profit enough to keep farmers in business. Farmers can’t use reducing input costs as an income stream because saving money to gain profitability is a one-way trip.
What farmers want is someone to help them tap into the yield potential of the varieties they’re already planting. Farmers produce only half of what most modern-day varieties are capable of producing. What they need is a trusting relationship with someone who already knows how to produce 500-bushel corn, 200-bushel soybeans, 100-bushel canola, and is capable of helping them employ strategies to significantly raise their yields. I developed those kinds of strategies for farmers 18 years ago—and it works. Farmers who employ them today have seen yield and profit increases they never thought possible.
When is the last time a sales rep asked a customer where he wanted to take his yields next year and what his plan was to get there? Reps don’t ask or talk about the only questions that matter to farmers because they don’t have anything to offer except products and programs. Farmers don’t know what to do and they need a relationship with someone who thinks differently and who can help them stay in business. Companies have let relationships be replaced with products and price because they’re all thinking alike—someone isn’t thinking.