Who Owns Your Seed This Year?

- Rod Osthus

The secret to success in seed sales is staying in control of the sale. If control is not maintained, the chance of getting the seed you sold planted decreases dramatically. Every year there are seed sellers who struggle to meet sales goals and this year is no exception. Because of their inability to get farmers to buy earlier, competitors are now offering late-season deals to your customers. They’re trying to appropriate the orders you’ve already written. So, how do you protect the orders you’ve worked so hard to get from late-season vultures? There is only one way — establishing seed ownership.

Seed ownership is best described as the time when a seed booking turns into a true sale. It’s when the customer takes full responsibility for the varieties he orders and begins to regard those varieties as non-returnable property. The customer believes the seed no longer belongs to the company supplying it but, instead, belongs to him.

So how do you get customers to take ownership to virtually guarantee the seed they order from you is planted? First, assign every variety you sell to the field in which it will be planted.

Sales reps continue to write orders instead of variety-by-field plans. Until each variety is assigned to a specific field, the grower doesn’t consider that variety an integral part of his production plan. A cropping plan is the prescription you write for the customer to ensure that he raises the best crop possible on that field.

Moreover, companies believe their sales reps can sell seed without a price. They can BOOK seed without a price, but final transfer of ownership to the customer cannot occur sans payment.

A lot of time, effort, and resources are wasted because companies price too late into the selling season. Sales reps are untrained on how to handle the easiest objection there is— price. Pricing is delayed in the hopes that sellers can somehow reconcile the non-ownership issue later. On top of that, companies don’t offer enough incentive for farmers to pay early. Early pay incentives have to be large enough to turn even the most conservative banker’s head.

Seed ownership takes place when a customer makes a psychological shift from ordering to owning. Until he takes ownership of the seed he orders, inevitably only one thing can happen — the seed reverts back to its original owner.