One of the keys to figuring out how to best incorporate agronomy services into your dealership is to determine your place in the market, says Paul Bruns, founder of Precision Consulting Services. “There’s a lot of people in this industry who are awfully darn good on equipment. There’s also a lot of people in this industry who are really good at agronomy. And there’s a group that falls right in the middle there who are good at equipment and agronomy. Then we have people who are good at software and data services. Some of them understand agronomy, some of them understand equipment,” he says. 

“There’s a nice little sweet spot in the center that [Precision Consulting Services] falls into. I actually have an agronomy degree from South Dakota State, and have always loved the software, the technology side and being able to view the big picture of how does it all come together.” 

Bruns takes a consultant’s approach when working with customers, both with agronomy and equipment. This year, he decided to take a look at what sets his business apart from everyone else. As the technology industry matures, he says, margins are going to erode. So, dealers have to figure out how to differentiate themselves. “How many people can say they sell an auto-steer system? How many vendors are there in the marketplace today? Well, pretty soon when everybody’s got the same thing, it gets down to a price issue. So how are we going to drive value from it? 

“All services and products we sell have one purpose — to ultimately make that producer more money. I want to cut his input costs, drive more yield, hopefully make their life simpler and just increase efficiencies overall,” he says.

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Paul Bruns, founder of Precision Consulting Services, says dealers need to find what their sweet spot in the market is. Precision Consulting Services is able to fill the spot where equipment, agronomy and software and data services all meet. Source: Precision Consulting Services

When you focus on ROI, price is no longer in the picture, Bruns says. However, he admits selling on ROI isn’t easy. “It’s hard. I will not disagree one bit. Selling based on ROI and agronomy is not as easy because it’s a warm, fuzzy, it’s not just I got 180 pounds of trip pressure on the seal cultivator. They got 200. Well, does that make their’s better? I don’t know, it depends. Why do I want to buy this widget or service?” 

Joel Kaczynski, product specialist manager for RDO Equipment, says they will often meet with customers and their agronomist or other trusted advisor to make sure all parties are on the same page when it comes to goals and plans for the farmer’s operation. “A lot of times his agronomist doesn’t know about all the latest and greatest stuff out there or opportunity we have with the equipment because it changes so quickly,” he says. “So it’s important that everybody gets on the same page — the agronomist sitting in there along with the account manager and a lot of times our product specialist is there as well. We use that as a team approach. We call it keeping our customers sticky. We’re providing them solutions. We aren’t just viewed as just another tractor dealer, but that we’re coming there with a solution for him.”

Whether the approach you decide on is bringing agronomy in-house and providing it as a service, partnering with agronomists in your area or a combination of the two, communication and planning are key for the integrating agronomy successfully. 

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How Dealers Can Use ROI to Sell More than Farm Equipment: To successfully sell customers on ROI, determine the numbers that are important to them — hours saved, fuel savings, yield increases — and go from there.