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Agrimarketing : April 2012
24 Agri Marketing I April 2012 As farms have consolidated, farmers’ expectations of their business partners have changed. “Farm customers are not the same ones we used to have,” says Dr. Scott Downey, Assistant Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University. “They’re changing and evolving, and becoming more businesslike, which makes the need to coordinate the messages these customers receive about a company even more important.” Many agribusinesses, especially ag retailers, are responding to the challenge of coordinating marketing messages for their customers by adding a sales and marketing position to their organizational chart. Downey offers several suggestions to consider when creating this position and hiring someone to fill it. “Make sure that the marketing manager understands that marketing is more than advertising, more than a web site,” he says. “Sales is just a subset of marketing activities, and it’s important to direct the sales force to act in a manner that is consistent with the company’s overall marketing strategy.” Downey says that the marketing leader ’s role is often to direct the sales force toward cross-selling opportunities, to use data about customers in the organization or to help the sales force understand the value of gathering information. Interacting with the sales force can be frustrating for new marketing managers because salespeople are typically independent. “Salespeople tend to feel like they own their relationships with their customers,” he advises. “If the new marketing manager says, ‘Please talk to your customers about pursuing these specific opportunities,’ the salesperson might respond defensively, saying, ‘I’ve talked to them before about that, and they aren’t open to those ideas. I’m going to keep talking to them the way I always have.’” THE MANAGER’S TOOL BOX According to Downey, the sales and marketing manager has two sets of tools. One includes the more formal tools of strategy, HR, employee evaluations and compensation. The second is the jurisdiction of the staff themselves — the organization’s culture. When an organization decides to dedicate a senior part of its executive team to leading sales and marketing activities, it signals a cultural change. This change promotes moving away from a culture of volume and operations toward the activities that lead to those — sales and marketing. “But culture is sticky,” Downey says. “You can’t generate a policy that says, ‘Our culture will be X.’” To generate culture, managers must think about unwritten rules and tradition. He explains, “Think about the stories we tell and the heroes that we celebrate — the stories that the people in the organization celebrate and tell about one another.” FOSTERING CULTURE Recognition and behavioral examples will help direct culture. If your company institutes a policy for gathering information about customers in a central manner, whether that’s a customer relationship management system or a more simple mechanism, like something written that gets circulated, senior managers can foster the cultural change by showcasing how they participate in that new system. For example, the general manager or CEO can encourage this behavior by filling out a call report (or whatever the specific mechanism) when they interact with targeted customers and then circulating it among the team. Having senior man- agers fill out the same kind of reports is often necessary to build that habit as culture, Downey says. CELEBRATE THE PROCESS Celebrating the inputs to the sales process, and not just the outcomes will also promote the cultural shift. Downey suggests that at team meetings, instead of only celebrating the team member who got a big sale, you should also recognize the person who found out a key piece of information about a customer that opened doors for future business. STRATEGIC AGRI-MARKETING As ag retailers hire and train sales and marketing managers, they’re taking a step forth into the brave new world of coordinated marketing. These leaders can learn to better use sales and marketing tools at programs such as Strategic Agri-Marketing, which teaches cutting-edge techniques about marketing to farmers. Find out more at www.agecon.purdue.edu/cab/ programs/sam/. AM THE WORLD OF COORDINATED MARKETING by Kristyn Kapetanovic Insights from Purdue University SEMINARS Upcoming Agribusiness Center for Food and Agricultural Business Sales Management and Leadership June 6-7, 2012 Agribusiness Finance for Non-Finance Managers June 18-21, 2012 Learn more at www.agecon.purdue.edu/cab Dr. Scott Downey is an Assistant Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University. He will be leading a sales and marketing workshop at the 2012 National Agri-Marketing Conference. He can be reached at email@example.com. Kristyn Kapetanovic is the Marketing Assistant at the Center for Food and Agricultural Business at Purdue University. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Downey 24 APRIL Purdue Advertorial Page 2_00 Purdue Advertorial Page 4/9/12 1:36 PM Page 24