3 ways marketing can help sales simplify decision making for farmers

by Jeff Walter
March 28, 2017


Information overload can delay or abandon purchase decision making

We can try to deny it, but digital channels now own a larger part of the purchase-decision process in agriculture. It’s as much as most other industries and will only continue growing as new channels emerge.

With that trend, the traditional role of Sales as “one-to-one connectors” and “closers” is being supplanted by more digitally savvy counterparts in Marketing, Customer Service and Inside Sales; according to the Altimeter Group in its recent white paper The Transformation of Selling.

Farmers have more and more access to, and in turn, consume more information through digital channels – peer ratings and reviews, comparison sites, influencer content, advice via social networks, etc. As a result, they’re often well into the purchase-decision process before they contact Sales. In fact, CEB Global in its paper The Digital Evolution in B2B Marketing, tells us that customers now complete more than half of the decision-making process before reaching out to a salesperson.

As scary as it seems, this trend is an opportunity for Marketing to help Sales help the farmer wade through all that information.

The CEB Global team tells us in their recent Harvard Business Review article that buyers feel overwhelmed by the volume of information and choices, delaying decisions and sometimes abandoning purchases. B2B buyers look to sellers to make the purchasing process easier.

To make things easier for the farmer, Marketing and Sales need to operate as integrated partners. Working together they can enable farmers to still feel in control of the process and help them sift through the torrents of information. Three examples of how Marketing can help Sales include:

Content Marketing. In one our posts, we discuss the value of being a content brand, where marketers become a source of solutions to real problems. An example is website content outlining practices on how to manage weed resistance along with vendor-neutral product comparisons. The marketers then promote the content through social channels with lead management infrastructure to support it. Then, Sales can swoop in with a perspective on the right combination for the farmer’s fields.

Bespoke Presentations. Think about farmers who are trying to convince partners or lenders they need to buy a new 1000-hp track tractor. Marketing can help Sales help the farmer with modular presentations that build their case around improved productivity, reduced compaction, lower cost of ownership, etc.

Peer-to-Peer Selling. These situations are ideal for complex decisions or when selling new technologies, and don’t have to include a pork-chop dinner. Marketing can help Sales structure and facilitate conversations between satisfied customers and potential purchasers, via in-person events, tele- or video-conference calls and/or online chat venues. An alternative approach, which could be especially useful for products like precision farming software, is to position current customers as coaches to pending purchasers.

Brands can win over farmers’ hearts and wallets when Marketing and Sales integrate efforts to make the purchase-decision process easier. It requires solutions-based selling and marketing, supported by extensive listening and adapting. More importantly, it requires cooperation and integration at every customer touchpoint.

Jeff Walter
About the Author – Jeff Walter

President/Chief Integration Officer. Jeff combines 20 years of client service experience with his deep knowledge and passion for agriculture, which stems from growing up on a corn and soybean farm in northern Illinois. He is a quick study of the brand, the customers and competitors, knows the right questions to ask, and with his oversight on planning and analytics, pushes the team to category-defining strategies and results-driven plans.

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Since 1978, the ag-marketing experts at Rhea + Kaiser have been helping brands connect with the farmer customer.

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