Progress Reports –
This is the time of the year when you’re visiting customers while they’re planting their crop. More specifically they are planting your products, some of them for the very first time.
You are doing it because you know it’s the fastest and easiest way to get them out of the Ag Cycle.
Getting customers out of the Ag Cycle begins the process of permanently changing how they think. When they change how they think, they change what they do. But leaving the Ag Cycle can be a very big move for many farmers.
After all, doing things the way they’ve always done them, when they have always done them is not new.
That system of farming was passed down from generation to generation. But in order to grow their business in today’s agricultural marketplace, they need to do things differently.
They need to begin planning next year’s crop much earlier in order to capture market opportunities, reduce input costs and give you, the seller, time to match the right varieties to the right fields.
It all starts by being at the planter and setting a date at that time to begin his cropping plan for the next year.
But setting an earlier date is just the start, the first step in changing his mind with many more changes in thinking to follow.
But how do you know when his thinking is changing and at what rate?
The answer is, you monitor it.
The moment you leave the planter visit, fill out a Progress Report on that customer. This form contains a number of key areas that need to be changed if he is going to think more like you.
For example. He may need to change how he thinks about the use of a yield monitor in making varietal decisions for the next year.
He may need to change how he thinks about when he normally orders his seed or he may simply have a strong bias against your products or your company because he is new and has been buying from your competitor for so many years.
Track Key Areas
List the areas on the report form that you want him to begin thinking more like you, then give them a base rating from 1-10, 10 being the highest, indicating his current level of thinking in each of those areas.
If he always does his cropping plan after harvest, give him a rating of 1, since he has a lot of changing to do until he does it before harvest every year, routinely.
If he tells you that he has not been happy with his previous seed supplier and that if things workout he will do more business with you in the future, give him a 5 on company bias. He is leaning partly your way but needs to additional help in getting him to believe he wants to go all of the way with you.
In both cases you will need to monitor his progress in changing his attitude and giving him a new score at least once a month.
The goal is to move him as far as you can toward your way of thinking by harvest.
Now fast forward to harvest and imagine yourself in the combine seat, sitting beside the same grower you visited during planting.
You will have monthly ratings on his attitudes and beliefs in the categories you chose, since planting. While you are his the cab with him, you are observing his face and listening to the things he is saying. Watching his facial expressions while listening to him speak are your best sources for the kind of information you are going to need to complete your Progress Report.
Once you leave his harvester, you will record the final rating each in category.
Those ratings will tell you how far he has come in each category and what you will need to do come planting season when the new selling year begins again and you use his updated ratings as your starting point.
Do they see the same things that you saw through the windshield of their combines?
Are they busy looking at their yield monitors or are they focusing on the condition of the crop being harvested based on what they did during planting?
But what are some of the key indicators you can observe on the harvester, telling you he is changing his way of thinking?
A few are listed below. By the way, I am telling you these things now, during planting season, so you will have a better idea of what you will eventually be looking for as a result of the key measures you listed on the Progress Report.
1. How Does He Greet You?
The first indicator that he is making progress with you is his attitude toward you when you arrive to ride his harvester in the fall. Does he greet you with a big smile, regardless of the condition of the crop or does he act like you are a bother and in his way?
2. Does He Instantly Blame the Product?
Second, does he ask you how you are doing or does he go right to talking about the crop and how bad it is and how nothing worked? Does he blame your products? Mother Nature? You? Himself?
Is he looking at the yield monitor to see how the year went or is he looking through the windshield with you and thinking about what he needs to change next spring during planting?
Whatever the categories you choose for each customer, prepare to monitor those categories from planting all the way through harvest using the Progress Report.
It will keep you on track when getting growers to change how they think. Plus this will prevent you from being surprised when your customer(s) is disgruntled or angry come harvest time.
Have a Plan
Do you need a blueprint for following planters this spring? Do you know how to execute the first step to get your customer to start his cropping plan earlier this year? Check out our Planting Customers Audio Training by clicking here.
Download a sample Progress Report or simply create your own and start tracking your customer’s progress today!