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

As one of the key points of interaction between a dealership and their customers, the farm-visit is a staple of the equipment salesperson. However, as the times change and customers’ needs change, dealers are searching for new ways to get more out of that farm visit or change how they approach their customers. At a roundtable discussion at the 2019 Dealership Mind Summit, dealers from around the world gathered to share their best practices and ideas for how to optimize facetime with customers.

A major theme that came up was the importance of a personal relationship with the customer. As one dealer put it, “I firmly believe that we should spend more time not selling, and we’ll sell more.” Another dealer even told the story of one salesperson that, during his farm visits, would take a photo of his clients with their children, then print and laminate it to put up at the dealership. Dealers agreed that the small gestures and pictures that make customers feel like family can work wonders in the business relationship.

The use of small gifts or items to facilitate trust with farmers was another important topic to dealers. One dealer mentioned using drones to take photos of clients’ fields or equipment, creating canvas prints and delivering them as Christmas gifts. “It’s not very expensive, and our clients loved it. It’s their farm, their production, their equipment: it made our salespeople look like kings.”         

Another dealer built on this idea, mentioning that with the importance of social media, salespeople can get a lot of mileage from taking a photo of clients with their new purchases for the client’s sake, as something to post online and showcase the equipment. 

Some dealers mentioned having their salespeople perform the functions of other departments as either a reason to get on the farm or to assist other employees. Some ideas were delivering parts for the parts department or requiring all sales staff to have some degree of precision ag training, which doubles as a way to increase customer understanding of precision technology. 

A key topic that came up was the importance of salespeople data mining on farm visits and attempting to learn when customers are planning to purchase new equipment, what they’re planning to replace, etc., and using that information to plan how to order and stock the dealership as well as presell. But as many dealers said throughout the roundtable, like with so many aspects of the farm visit, the data mining process goes nowhere without trust. “The relationship is the key, to get enough trust between the salesperson and that customer so they would share that information. Because they know when they tell you, ‘I’m thinking about making these purchases,’ that you’re going to be like a dog with a bone. They’re not going to tell just any salesperson who walks in what their plans are.”

Dealers also focused on the generational shifts that have occurred over time, especially in how technology impacts the customer/salesperson relationship. One dealer mentioned that the increased use of technology at his dealership has removed the need for farm visits in some instances, saying, “If I send a salesperson out, that means he’s not getting stuff done, because he’s driving his pickup down the road. My last new salesman I didn’t give a pickup, and he’s outsold everybody. He’s young, he’s good on email and he’s good with texting.” 

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?