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.