In today’s world, there are few frustrations that test the patience of people more than malfunctioning technology. We’ve grown so accustomed to the instant gratification provided by the handheld devices that have become essentially electronic appendages.
So when a screen goes dark, many of us feel isolated, helpless and uninformed — even if just for a matter of minutes. This is certainly a situation I’ve seen play out numerous times when spending time with precision farming specialists, whether it’s with their own technology or something they’ve sold a farm customer.
“You can’t get frustrated, or you can’t do this job,” is simple advice offered by Nathan Zimmerman during our latest Day in the Cab profile featured in this issue. Zimmerman and other precision specialists often answer the same questions on a daily basis from customers. Where did my farm field settings go? What button did I push that caused my screen to change? Did I lose any saved data?
But that initial head scratching and hand wringing can quickly turn into a sigh of relief and a heartfelt “Thank you” from a satisfied customer. It’s at this moment when I notice a true sense of accomplishment from a specialist. There’s a sense of satisfaction that comes from solving a problem — but equally if not more important — is the likelihood that the customer will call back again in the future.
“Even though we’re selling components and hardware, this is a people and relationship-building business. There’s a lot of pressure on this industry right now and to succeed, we need to keep selling and showing value to our customers at a time when they are looking to cut expenses,” says one respondent to our 4th Annual Benchmark Study, starting on page 9.
One of the biggest advantages that precision dealers have going for them — even in a down ag economy — is that once customers get a taste of technology, it’s unlikely they will abandon it.
One of my favorite phrases I’ll often hear from dealers is, “Precision farming is addicting,” and once a farmer buys that first auto-steer system, GPS receiver or set of row clutches, odds are they will be back for more. Granted, dealers aren’t projecting the same precision revenue growth as in years past, as noted in the benchmark study.
Nevertheless, they have a deepening pool of products and services to draw from to feed even the most tech-savvy customers’ appetite for accuracy and precision ROI. The key will be showing farmers exactly what their money will get them in a practical and profitable way.
As one dealer puts it, “If the farmer doesn’t have a reason to spend money on technology, he’s not going to.” This statement is certainly truer than it was 3 years ago, and dealers no doubt have to work harder for precision sales than ever before.
But they also have a cultural evolution working in their favor with more and more farms embracing and understanding the value that comes from precision and consumer technology. (Texting is an increasingly routine method for farmers to schedule and contact dealerships for service).
This transition will continue to unfold in the coming months and years, but at the moment, dealers need to continue keeping monitor screens aglow, GPS signals unlocked and customers satisfied.