The following article is based on roundtable discussion at the 2019 Dealership Minds Summit. To watch the roundtable recap, click here.

Forecasting future farm customer equipment purchases in the current ag economy may take more than a crystal ball. But taking a more focused, farm-by-farm approach reveals short- and long-term potential for equipment sales, say some dealers.

“The question isn’t, ‘Can we do a better job?’, it’s ‘How are we going to go about it?,’’ says Bryant Roberson, equipment remarketing manager with Quality Equipment in North Carolina. “How can we project what is going to be bought in the next 60, 90 or 120 days?”

For some, a complex matrix taking into account purchase history is an approach that can produce results. But at the same time, one dealer questions, “how can you put together a forecast for someone you haven’t had contact with in 125 days?”

A simpler approach favored by dealers and getting back to basics of relationship building and leveraging the multiple departments are customer touchpoints. “A lot of times, customers are more likely to talk to a technician or even a salesperson when they aren’t trying to sell them something on the spot,” Roberson says. “In those moments, you’ll often find out what customers really need vs. what they want.”

But he also acknowledged farmers can be more inclined to own or lease multiple brands of equipment, complicating the ability to accurately forecast farm-by-farm purchases. “You might project selling 10 tractors to one customer and then a lease program with CNH or Deere or New Holland comes out and the next thing you know, that farmer has 10 tractors of a different color,” Roberson says. “Brand loyalty has really played a role in making purchasing projections.”

Some of the best ammunition dealers have against customers choosing an alternative for their equipment needs is to not give them a reason to leave. This is rooted, Roberson says, in maintaining strong customer relationships.

More Dealership Minds Summit coverage 

No More Order Takers: Strategies for Motivating & Improving Your Sales Team

8 Factors for Cultivating & Promoting a Professional Culture of Excellence

Compensation Plans: A Tale of Two Dealerships

Van Wall Equipment’s Formula for Clear Sales Strategy

No Sales Left Behind: Using Tech to Boost Your Sales Team

Ritchie: Create a Team of Solution Sellers

Feed Your Sales Team — A Presentation From Shawn Skaggs

The On-Farm Visit: How to Get the Most from Client Face Time

Redefining Your Sales Mindset

Adding Specialized Product Lines Can Expand Your Customer Base

Getting the Salesforce Out of the Dealership & In Front of the Customer

Purchase Projections: Look Beyond the Sale

3 Ways to Get Your Aftermarket Team to Adopt a Sales Mentality

Is a Call Center Right for Your Dealership?