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Agrimarketing : July 2009
23 Purdue Advertorial Page 2:00 Purdue Advertorial Page 7/15/09 1:59 PM Page 23 Sales and Marketing Insights from Purdue University BUILD-A-SALESPERSONCOMINGSOON TOAMALLNEARYOU Fig. 1 byMegan Sheridan andMaud Roucan-Kane M y niece loves the Build-ABearWorkshop in ourmall. Instead of picking any old stuffed animal off the shelf at Toys “R” Us, she can handpick the look and feel of her furry friend, decide whether it’s a boy or girl and even determine its occupation by dressing it up in a doctor’s outfit.And, best yet, it doesn’t have to be a bear. She can build a longhorn steer or a lovable lobster, if her heart so desires. Itwould be interesting to see what characteristics producers would select if therewas a Build-ASalespersonWorkshop. Physical appearancewouldn’t be an option at theworkshop, but producers could determinewhat personality traits their salespersonwould have and what their sales approachwould be. Since aworkshop of that caliber is unlikely, Purdue researchers decided to ask producerswhat characteristics and services they look for in an agricultural salesperson.More than 2,500 producers fromacross the country responded to the questions, whichwere part of the Center for Food andAgricultural Business’ Large Commercial Producer Survey. The producers represented seven enterprises: cotton, dairy, swine, and beef, aswell as corn and soybean; wheat, barley and canola; and fruit, nut, vegetable, and vine (FNV). Upcoming Agribusiness SEMINARS StructuringDecisions: Innovating through Turbulence September 15-17, 2009 Strategic Agrimarketing October 12-16, 2009 Learn more at www.agecon.purdue.edu/cab Center for Food and Agricultural Business BE HONEST Producers, regardless of their operation size, ranked honesty as themost important attribute of a salesperson (see Figure 1). Producers relate honestywith good follow-up service, offering the best price, providing access to supplier resources and acting as a consultant to their operations. One producer described howhis salesperson “helped as if the farm was his own” and even suggested actions that “weren’t in his interest.” Fig. 2 OFFER VALUABLE INFORMATION In general, producers are relyingmore on salespeople for information and advice than theywere five years ago. Offering relevant and timely information to producers ranked second, after good follow-up,when producers considered eight characteristics of their best agricultural salesperson (see Figure 2). Producerswould rather have a salespersonwho brings relevant information over one that calls frequently. RESPECT THEIR TIME “I can’t listen to everyone because I’d never get anywork done,” one producer explains. “Asalesperson who respectsmy time has a better chance than someonewho’s pushy.” It’s important for salespeople to consider the other demands producers face every day.When a salesperson shows up unannounced, the farmermay not have time to visit. Scheduling farmvisits, in addition to showing up and leaving on time, shows producers the respect they’re looking for. The concepts seemsimple, but salespeople have the challenge of delivering on themat the level producers expect. Each producer has preferences, and all of themwon’t pick the same options at a Build-ASalespersonWorkshop. By exemplifying the personality characteristics that producers are seeking, along with getting to knowtheir operation and howdecisions aremade, salespeople can bring value to farmers and extend the length of time that they keep a farmer’s business. Formore information on the Large Commercial Producer Survey, visit www.agecon.purdue.edu/cab/ programs/lcp. AM Megan Sheridan (msheridan@purdue. edu) is theMarketingManager at the Center for Food and Agricultural Business at Purdue University.Maud Roucan-Kane (email@example.com) is the Center’s Research Associate. July/August 2009 s Agri Marketing 23
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