If I have heard this joke once, I have heard it a thousand times. “The best thing about 2020 is that it over!”

2020 was a year filled with challenges — everything from a pandemic to someone paying you to take their oil, literally. The growing season ended in an early freeze and drought for much of the west and the Midwest, with varying degrees of drought and inconsistent yields. Corn saw $3.00 on the board, and sat there for a while, but slowly made the climb back up. With the obstacles and hurdles in front of the ag equipment industry, 2021 looks like a complete turn-a-round compared to 2020.

2021 started with a bang. The Jan.12 USDA Report shot all commodities straight up. For the first time since 2014, corn was $5.50 plus on the board, and soybeans were in the $14.00 range. For the producer, December Future Contracts for corn and beans promise a break even for sure, maybe even a profit. Something completely out of reach just 6 months ago. Industry optimism is at an all-time high, and new and late-model, low-hour used equipment inventories are at lows not seen since 2009-10. 

Various government coronavirus relief packages have pumped money into the ag economy. Heading into spring buying season, producers are making some long-awaited upgrades to their fleets and taking advantage of historic low-interest rates. 

With the lack of new and late, and low-hour used equipment industry-wide, producers are combing internet equipment listing sites looking for equipment to buy. Now is the time to have your dealership websites and internet listing up-to-date with good clean pictures and descriptions.

“Industry optimism is at an all-time high, and new and late-model, low-hour used equipment inventories are at lows not seen since 2009-10…”

I think transparency is the key to selling equipment faster online. I like to attach recent inspections with what reconditioning is needed and what can wait. When a customer calls to talk about the piece of equipment, most of the general questions are answered and the customer only has very detailed inquiries about specific parts of the machine left. I also find that the close-ratio is higher because of the inspection and, most of the time, confirmation of just a few points is all the buyer needs.

During the phone conversation, I ask for the buyer’s email and send any work orders I have to them while we are on the phone. I find this is a great way to reconfirm the machine is what I say is it. If at all possible, I like to attach these records to the internet listing, and as with the inspection, the buyer’s questions are more directed to particular aspects of the machine.

The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” has never been more true when talking about internet posting sites. The more pictures associated with a machine, the better chance you will catch a buyer’s attention. The more detailed the images are, the more of the story it tells, frame by frame. Pictures of clean machines sitting on the lot reassure buyers the machine is ready to work. The better the pictures are, the more engaged buyers are with your equipment. 

I have been trying to capture video of machines as they are working in the field. The idea is when customers trade the unit in, actual videos of the machine at work are available. Video has grown to be a prevalent request from customers. Like pictures, cell phone technology allows for a high-quality video to be shot and easily uploaded to most listing sites. The ease of capturing video will make it the “new normal” in 2021 and beyond.

In closing, the internet has made the world a small place over the last 20-30 years and will continue to make the world smaller. During this time, the internet has done a great job selling equipment, but the internet is only as good to a salesperson as the information they have to sell. The better and more transparent a dealership’s pictures and machine information, the faster and more profitable equipment will sell.