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The Trusted Advisor Approach to Selling in Agribusiness

By Greg Martinelli

Saint Louis, MO| Selling is tough. Selling to farmers and Ag buyers can be even tougher. We sell into a highly commoditized industry. Our customers have dozens of places to buy tractors, seed, fertilizer, or feed. Our salespeople are under a constant barrage of price resistance.

Long ago in my sales career, I learned that certain salespeople didn’t have as many struggles with price resistance. Their approach to selling was different. They had developed all three components of a salesperson’s journey: Territory management, Selling Skills, and the Trusted Advisor Approach.

3 Components of an Ag Sales Professional’s development

1. Territory Management: where to go, who to call on, and how to manage their time

2. Selling Skills: the process of what to do when you get in front of a customer

3. Trusted Advisor Approach: Becoming a brand of one

A skilled and professional salesperson must develop skills on the first two components.

First, they must know how to manage their time, their customers, and establish a good prospecting system to bring in new customers.

Second, they need to have a process for conducting sales calls. It might be a four, five, or six step process, but all of them are typically the same. Meet and greet your customer, ask good questions, find a need, present on your products that meet that need, ask your closing question, and then follow up.

For many, this is enough to have a successful sales career. However, when sales become difficult, like in agribusiness. When customers have 5, 10 or 15 suppliers to choose from, we need to go above and beyond the first two steps in our development. That’s where the Trusted Advisor approach helps set us apart from the army of salespeople calling on farmers and Ag buyers.

To develop this approach, there are seven skill areas to implement in becoming your own brand in your market: Leadership, Communication, Flexibility, Work Ethic, Problem Solving, Teamwork, and Interpersonal Skills. While they are often referred to as soft skills, they are some of the most difficult to learn and implement. The good part is that you don’t have to implement all seven. You just need to use enough of them to differentiate yourself from competitors.

Developing these skills allows you to advance beyond the role of just selling a product or service. It bumps you up to being trusted by your customers. You become your own brand in the market that customers value working with.

Advantages of becoming the trusted advisor to your customers:

· Shorter selling cycles

· Fewer cold calls - more warm calls

· More repeat business from customers – higher share of their business

· Lower customer turnover

· More engagement and fun in your role for you and your customers

· Most importantly, you achieve life long relationships with customers that makes a difference in their lives!

Greg Martinelli runs Ag Sales Professionals. He works with Ag companies to develop their sales teams through training, coaching, and speaking. To learn more about Greg, visit

If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy:

Check out the latest episode of the Ag Sales Professionals Podcast!

Check out our Ag Spotlight interview with Greg Martinelli!


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