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

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 kind of training and even fewer receive the kind of ongoing sales training required to keep them at the top of their game.

How to Create Confident Agricultural Sales Professionals

So, what can you do to instill confidence in your sales team? In my experience there are 2 solutions, and they are deceptively simple:

  1. Invest in good sales training for new salespeople and help them get off to the right start.
  2. Set up ongoing training opportunities for your team on sales, your industry as a whole, and new products and solutions your company is developing.

1. Training New Salespeople to be Confident, or “The Right Start”

All too often when an agricultural company hires a new salesperson, they expect that person to hit the ground running. Unfortunately, the truth is that without a good sales training program in place it may take that salesperson up to a year to begin to hit their quotas.

Instead, a new salesperson needs training in each of the areas I mentioned above—sales itself, the agricultural industry, and the various solutions offered by the company.

Without customized personal training in each of these arenas, gaining the knowledge that a salesperson needs to be confident during a sale will be time consuming… and in sales, time is money.

2. Why The Right Start isn’t Enough: Building Confidence Over Time

When a sales professional gets the right start, but doesn’t receive ongoing training, knowledge retention drops off steeply.

That means if an agricultural company wants to create sales professionals who consistently deliver, it needs to invest in ongoing training so that the team is always ready to answer grower questions and provide the right solutions.

How Confident is Your Team?

The business world has changed significantly in the last 27 years and new technologies have allowed agricultural sales professionals to achieve new heights. During your next meeting, take a look at your sales team and ask yourself: Who in the room has the most confidence? Who are your best salespeople? I’m willing to bet your answers to these two questions will be exactly the same.

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