The Progress Report –
If you have followed this training blog for very long, or have ever attended one of my sales training sessions, then you will already know the answer to this question…
What is the Most Important Customer Contact of the Year?
The answer is visiting planters in the spring!
The reasons are infinite, but I’ll give you a few.
Since you sell a living, breathing organism, it is vital that you are there with your prospects and customers when they are planting your seed.
This helps ensure the success of your products and begins the process of the grower protecting product performance.
After all, if your seed was planted in horrible soil conditions, wouldn’t you liked to have known that when you got the call six weeks later from that brand new prospect informing you that your stand count is the worst one on his farm?
You could have used that information as an explaination OR if you were at the planter when the soil conditions were less than ideal, you could have prevented him from planting…or at least made your stance be known and strongly discouraged planting at that time.
While that scenario could be very helpful to you and your customer, it isn’t even the most important reason as to why you must visit planters.
The number one reason we visit planters in the spring is to get our customers out of the Ag Cycle.
(If you don’t know what the Ag Cycle is, watch the video below)
Once growers are out of their Ag Cycles, they will do whatever we ask them to do, whenever we ask them to do it.
As they begin to think like you, the seller, they start to do what you do and begin to follow your lead.
However, this strategy is not intended to be manipulative.
It’s done to help your customers succeed!
By getting the farmer to start planning and making decisions earlier in the year.
But, without a Progress Report, it’s virtually impossible to know the state-of-mind of buyers at any given time, or the pace at which they are removing themselves from the Ag Cycle.
Which is where the Progress Report comes in. A Progress Report is a summary of observations on each of your buyer’s thoughts and actions over the course of time.
It’s also the number one piece of information you need on every customer!
We have to listen to what they say and watch what they do at the planter and all season long.
If the grower tells us:
…the key to maximum yields is getting the crop planted early, or
…he plants shallow so he can get his crop out of the ground quickly and off to a fast start, or
…he always waits until after harvest to order his seed so he can see what last year’s crop does,
then you know that you must change his thinking from where it is now—and that takes time!
Then, throughout the growing season, your job is to record his progress and how much he changes his line-of-thinking until it matches yours as closely as possible.
The Progress Report is your guide to monitor just how far he has come in his thinking, by way of watching his actions and listening to his comments when you are riding the combine/harvester with him in the fall.
For example, if your customer always waits until after harvest to order his seed, then you would write down “Early Orders” under the trait section and mark a 2 or 3 next to it. That means that you have some work to do in order to teach your grower that waiting until after harvest to order his seed is the wrong strategy and to teach him how it can hurt him.
After all, how many back-to-back growing seasons are exactly the same?
Explain what the benefits are to his operation and bottom line by making seed purchasing decisions early and getting them done before any of his neighbors. Also, remind him it doesn’t mean that, once combines are rolling, we can’t make changes.
The goal is not to try to pick a lottery variety winner, but rather have you help him put together a cropping plan for success next year and every single year after.
To do that you have to start tracking his progress at the planter!
If you would like a FREE copy of your very own Progress Report Template click here to download it!