What is Business Acumen?

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Does your team understand business strategy? Do they know why costs are cut? Do they know your industry’s trends? Teaching business acumen provides all employees confidence and understanding in today’s business world.

The phrase “business acumen” may seem like an industry buzzword, but in fact it is an increasingly important part of communication and effectiveness in the business world. Financial Times Lexicon defines business acumen as “keenness and speed in understanding and deciding on a business situation”. Moreover, business acumen can help your company cut costs, reach a broader audience, and successfully integrate and streamline ideas for a more efficient business strategy.

Steve Jobs is a great example of a strong business acumen. A college dropout with no formal business education, Jobs’ ability to make snap decisions and understand the “language of business” made Apple into one of the most valuable companies in the world. It is […]

5 Steps for Ensuring Customer Satisfaction in Agricultural Sales

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Remember that every customer call is an opportunity for you to help solve a problem for someone. And if we are honest with ourselves, that is the real reason we enjoy sales so much!

So you are walking along freshly-tilled furrows on the way to meet a grower and potential customer in the field, when your cell phone rings. Time is short after you got turned around at the entrance, machinery churns loudly around you, and the sun is making you regret your choice of long sleeves this morning. You can see by the number on the screen that it’s a new grower you just signed up last week. Quick: how do you respond?

Stop, take a breath, and remember that when a customer calls, it is an opportunity for you to help solve a problem for someone. Here are 5 easy steps anyone can follow to ensure great customer service on every call, every time.

Step 1: Say Hello
Thank your customer for calling. Keep a “smile” in your voice by keeping a smile on your face. State your […]

3 Must-Haves for Salesperson On-boarding in the Agricultural Market

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When you hire a new salesperson, they naturally walk through your front door full of excitement and energy. Best-in-class on-boarding is one of the best ways to turn that energy into results.

Do you remember the first day at your company? Chances are you were excited, ready to dive in and get started. When you hire a new salesperson, that’s how they feel when they walk through your doors as an employee for the first time.

If you’ve made a good hire, that person has the potential to become an amazing ag-sales professional. However, it’s up to you to help them realize that potential—and your on-boarding process will play a large role in doing exactly that.

1. A Day-1 Action Plan
Before your new salesperson arrives for their first day, it’s important to check off a few important to-do items, including:

    • Ensure their computer, email, and phone are ready.
    • Let your receptionist know they’ll be coming in and what to do when […]

Best Practices for Customer Service in Agricultural Sales

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There is no doubt, growers can be some of the most discerning customers out there.  But once their loyalty is won, amazing customer service is the best way to keep it.  Here are some of the best ways to do just that.

After 27 years in agricultural sales, I’ve seen thousands of salespeople come and go. And I’ve noticed that the best learn early on in their careers that superior customer service after the sale is what truly creates customer loyalty. It is loyal customers that form the foundation of any great sales organization, because loyal customers come back to buy again and again, month after month.

But here’s the thing. Providing fantastic customer service is not hard, it’s just not something most sales training programs emphasize. If salespeople spent as much time thinking about customer service after the sale as they did closing the the next sale, monthly quotas would be easier to hit. With this in mind, I’ve put together some of the best practices in […]

How Improving Customer Service Starts with Becoming a Better Listener

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Becoming a better listener is easy to say and hard to do. But it doesn’t have to be if you follow these quick tips on your next customer service call.

Improving customer service starts with being a better listener. If we can listen with the intent to understand, as Stephen Covey first articulated it, then we can avoid listening as most people do–with the intent to reply. Try these quick tips for better listening the next time you find yourself in conversation with a customer that has an issue, and I think you’ll be surprised by how positive the outcome of that conversation can be.

Listen without interrupting. Our understanding and enthusiasm for correcting a customer’s concern can sometimes lead us to interrupt them in mid-sentence. Keep in mind that no matter how quickly we think we can pick up on a customer’s concern, no one likes being rushed or having their sentences finished for them. Listen like you have no place to be but right there with that […]

What I’ve Learned After 27 years of Training Agricultural Sales Professionals

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What do agricultural sales professionals really need most to be successful?

When I ask industry leaders this question, I get a variety of answers, many of which are quite good, including things like “a solid manager,” “proper motivation,” and “deep industry knowledge.”

But truthfully, there is one factor that outweighs all of these: Confidence.

Confidence in their ability as a salesperson, confidence in their ag industry knowledge, and confidence in their company’s products and solutions. The best agricultural sales professionals have this one trait more than any other.

Where Does Confidence Come From?

This year marks 27 years that I’ve spent training agricultural sales professionals and what I’ve learned in that time is that confidence is not, as many might have you believe, an inborn trait.
Confidence comes from quality, sustained training.

Unfortunately, I’ve also learned that too few ag sales teams receive that […]