Old MacDonald had a farm…and it was full of potential profits…but his outdated systems kept him from discovering them. My spin on the classic childrens song may not have the bouncy rhythms of the original, but it has some truth. The agriculture industry has done a wonderful job of adopting equipment technology like combines and harvesters to automate tasks in the field, but when it comes to data, it’s an industry that still finds itself falling behind. Technology Advisors is looking to change that.
The idea to build a specialized agribusiness CRM first struck after a
conversation with a CRM customer in the seed distribution industry.
This customer hadn’t previously felt the need to implement CRM in his
business. All his seed reps were long-time sales veterans with their own
working processes. However, when one of those reps had to leave
unexpectedly, the business owner found himself floundering through an
Excel sheet of contacts not knowing who to reach out to first. He had to
individually call each contact to understand their buying history,
ordering quantities, and last contact with his company. At a seed
conference later that year, we asked his peers about their sales
experiences and were shocked to find that they too were using Excel
files or some other outdated tool. Below, we’ll discuss why this
approach is dangerous and how we’re using Seed CRM to try and help.
Regardless of the size of your operation, if you're still using Excel
spreadsheets to track business statistics, you're missing out on the
power of your own data. Basic software like Excel spreadsheets is great
for small startups. It’s inexpensive, easy to manipulate, and quick to
update. However, spreadsheets only go so far. For example, Microsoft
Excel’s FAST (Farm Analysis Solution Tools) suite attempts to address
financial planning and crop management needs, but fails to connect
customers with suppliers. When a business becomes more complex with
additional land, crops, customers, and needs, Excel will no longer cut
it. Organizations such as Farm Business Farm Management try
to help agribusiness professionals cope with the analytics and
management gap of Excel’s limitations, but without a software tool, data
management is still an ongoing struggle.
There are several smaller companies that offer CRM-like products.
While these tools are certainly a step in the right direction, they too
have analytic restrictions. The companies that produce these smaller
CRMs don’t necessarily specialize in CRM, so while the product may work
to an extent, it most likely will not offer seamless integration with
popular products like Seedware and other existing software systems, or
be easily reconfigurable to individual business needs. These CRM
offshoots rarely offer a full team of support and training personnel, so
the unfortunate result is one that many businesses face with new
software purchases: low user adoption. Frustrations peak when management
realizes they've purchased a software program no one will ever use.
Many small to mid-size operations rely heavily on word-of-mouth to
generate sales and set up contracts. While this method may seem
effective at first, it only reaches so many people at the local grain
elevator. It used to be — especially in agribusiness — that you could
pull up to a farm and talk to someone. These days, we're all moving so
quickly that that approach no longer works. You are expected to call or
text ahead of time, and during busy seasons it becomes nearly impossible
to get a hold of someone. CRM is extremely useful for tracking all the
interactions (or attempted interactions) that sales people have, so they
can monitor where they stand with a customer. Email communications are
logged in the system so the last point of contact is always on hand.
Plus, add-on products like Tenfold can log phone calls and notes automatically to keep call data organized.
Evolving communication also demands mobility. Devices like iPads and
cell phones give agribusiness professionals the opportunity to take
their tech out into the fields. If they're planning to visit a seed
distributor, they can automate reminders to send personalized messages
to that buyer in the right season. Notes on individual accounts help
personalize sales interactions – When is this buyer's birthday? What is
their favorite sports team? Reps can pull up that information on-the-go
to have it in front of them during an on-site meeting.
How Can Seed CRM Help?
Technology Advisors has taken the best components of SugarCRM,
a leading customer relationship management software, and added
capabilities specific to the needs of the agriculture industry. Our
developers worked with seed companies to address the customized
functions they'd need in a CRM system. The result was Seed CRM.
A support team of tech specialists provide training, on-boarding, and
in-house integration with back-office software like ERP, SeedWare, and
even Quickbooks to complete the Seed CRM experience, so the frustrations
of low user adoption are mitigated.
Seed CRM helps sales, marketing, and services analyze trends, buying
habits, sales activities, customized opportunities, and much more. It
fosters data transparency that allows teams to identify opportunities
faster and act on them with greater efficiency. Seed CRM also supports
case management and tracking, and monitors sales activities with smart
follow-up and reminders. It's the best way to capture customer
information, track buying histories, follow year-to-year buyer activity,
and understand buying trends. Just as the farmer automates his field
tech, the seed distributor can now automate processes for sales
strategy, marketing, and quoting.
With fast implementation and complete support along the way, Seed CRM
streamlines sales and helps create stronger ROI. It's time for the
agriculture industry to catch up. Data is power, and TAI wants to help
this industry harness that power, one MacDonald at a time.