With big-ticket machinery sales down, there’s another challenge to watch … shell-shocked salespeople citing reasons NOT to press on.

While your staff commiserates at the popcorn machine and trades “Debbie Downer” stories over the latest industry news, someone at a competing dealership is going after your customer harder than ever. It’s happening right now, and every great salesperson is notching wins at a sleepy competitor’s expense.

Despite the softness for high-horsepower machines, there are reasons to march up farmers’ driveways. Many farmers, in fact, don’t share the same pessimism dealers feel as a result of walking past their inventory several times a day.

We’ve summarized 182 of the newest products in this year’s SHOWCASE, surely some worth soliciting on-farm feedback while you display an interest in helping your customers stay ahead of the curve.

Our team is also excited to bring you a new and unique report in this year’s SHOWCASE. On the heels of the widely read “numbers-training” article (“The Balance Sheet, Leverage & Turnover”) by Birkey’s Farm Store CEO Mike Hedge last month (second-highest online page views among feature content over the last 30 days), we bring you an in-depth look at industry benchmarks compiled by the group now known as the Western Equipment Dealers Assn. (WEDA).

The coverage is the first time I recall this data made available to the entire industry (click here for the full Cost of Doing Business special report). In doing so, and in making themselves available to our content team, WEDA is encouraging better use of data to improve the health of the industry.

Plus, you’ll see a never-before-assembled look at the industry’s performance over the last 44 years. Executive Editor Dave Kanicki completed and updated a project started decades earlier by the late Bill Fogarty (longtime editor of Implement & Tractor, Farm Equipment and Ag Industry Watch), and the hard work of he and Assistant Editor Jaime Elftman can be seen here. We think you’ll find it lends an important perspective for your younger talent.

The value in such reports is the dialog it brings to establishing your own scorecard, and to measure — and move — those things making the greatest impact on your business. Winners want to keep score. And they also want to know when they’re coming up short.

About 15 years ago at a presentation in Florida, I heard one of my favorite all-time seminar takeaways. The speaker challenged everyone to go back and rally every team member — from the receptionist to the highest level of executive — behind a commitment to outperform the person in that same role at each of their competitors. This challenge requires paying attention to what the best of the best are doing, and also the value of every task in an enterprise.

Think about what a single-digit improvement — in work orders closed, wait times at the parts counter, completion of CRM updates, callback time standards and service plan upsells, just to name a few — could have on your business. Securing that personal commitment to excellence, and then keeping score and following up is a simple playbook, but only the best execute it.

Do those things well, and you’ll will win the day. It starts with a discussion of what “best in class” looks and feels like. We hope this edition of Farm Equipment helps you move that conversation forward — how about tomorrow morning?