Did you know CRM software represents one of the biggest markets in the world? And it’s still growing!
One of the major factors behind this growth is the desire by businesses to work faster, more efficiently, and more proactively.
A CRM simplifies how teams assess analytics, strategize customer service, and create personalized email marketing. And yet, the agribusiness industry is still one of the slowest adopters of the technology, beat out by retail, financial services, and manufacturing, among others.
As we head into a new decade, the call for technology will be louder than ever. It’s the force driving all business and incorporating AI, machine learning, analytics, and automation to make competition even tighter.
Here are three reasons the agribusiness industry needs to consider CRM in 2020 to secure its future.
#1 Trade Wars Make Customer Retention More Important Than Ever
Members of the agribusiness industry are among the hardest hit by the recent trade wars. In its peak in 2014, the U.S. agricultural sector exported nearly $24 billion in goods to China. Last year, that number dropped to $9 billion. This devastating decrease in exports has put the industry under extreme stress. Seed growers, farmers, farming wholesalers, and retailers are scrambling to fill the gap.
Even if the trade war ends, many economists do not anticipate a complete bounce back for the agribusiness sector.
The current conditions mean customer retention is more important than ever. In a recent study, 47% of CRM users said it had a significant impact on their customer retention. Perhaps that’s because a successful customer retention strategy requires insight to understand customer needs, proactively address those needs, and pay close attention to the habits and trends that affect purchasing decisions – and CRM gives users the tools to do that.
Customers today expect companies to know their preferences and resolve their issues quickly. So quickly, in fact, that Forrester research found 41% of consumers expect a response to a support email within six hours. When those requests come through social media, the expected response time is even shorter – one hour.
How can agribusiness keep up?
CRM systems facilitate customer retention by arming staff with data-backed decision making, automated reminders, product catalogues, and historical backlogs to accurately track and anticipate the customer’s needs. Social media accounts connected to the CRM alert service departments of issues when they arise and document those issues in the CRM so it’s easy to reference the next time.
#2 The Younger Work Force is Taking Over
Millennials represent the largest segment of today’s labor force, and their influence is expanding. By the year 2030, they will represent a whopping 75% of the U.S. workforce.
As this generation steps into leadership positions, they are looking for roles that offer purpose and professional development, and they expect cutting-edge tools to maximize their contributions. Engaging and retaining these professionals means supplying them with the collaborative technologies to work together and innovate from within.
For agribusiness, data accessibility in the field is particularly useful. As reps go out to meet with customers, they’ll benefit from being able to stay connected.
CRM apps (most of which still work offline when you’re out of WIFI/cellular range) allow field representatives to review key customer details before they walk in the door and update the data instantly if something changes.
Automated workflows ensure they prioritize the right buyers at the right time and won’t miss a beat in the selling process. Plus, the direct access to a customer’s current products, past support issues, and other interactions create upsell and cross-sell opportunities that could have otherwise been missed.
#3 You Can’t Stay Competitive Without Streamlined Productivity
One thing CRM does really well is enhance productivity. Automatically assigning leads, reducing the need for manual data entry, and creating reports in a matter of minutes are just a few of the ways CRM systems help businesses work smarter, not harder. CRM can also be used to:
- Plan calendars
- Keep inventory of warehouses and other material resources
- Store and organize crucial customer documents
- Keep track of financial data and report on it
- Record notes from meetings and phone calls
- Access email templates and asset libraries for easier selling
- Connect to other internal systems, increasing data visibility and reporting
Although the agribusiness sector has been a slow adopter when it comes to technology, that tide is starting to change. A recent study by Purdue University asked agribusiness professionals currently using CRM about their experiences with the software.
Specifically, they wanted to know how well these professionals thought the CRM performed relative to their expectations. Did they think the CRM features had significance to their business?
They asked these professionals to rank the CRM’s ability to increase sales, customer loyalty, customer satisfaction, etc. on a scale of 1 (not important) to 5 (very important). Additional questions sought information about the value it provided, the up-sell opportunities that resulted, and how the CRM helped them anticipate customer purchasing behaviors.
The results? Every respondent ranked all 22 of the possible metrics as important to their operations.
These professionals are seeing the real results that CRM brings, and it’s driving more and more of their industry peers to adopt the solution. As CRM adoption starts to escalate, businesses without the software may find themselves scrambling to keep pace.
CRM software and other supporting technologies are key to maintaining productivity, predicting needs, and engaging customers. CRM software is essential for staying competitive, and the agribusiness sector of the future demands it.