Return on investment is often the most effective ammunition a precision salesperson can have when discussing a new product with a customer.

But definitive payback isn’t always information dealers have at their fingertips, especially when it comes to more abstract technologies. Still, there are effective show and tell approaches to demonstrate ROI.

Initially, dealers succeeded in showing tangible payback of auto-steer systems and planter row clutches and sprayer section control. But newer technologies, like unmanned aerial vehicles and variable-rate prescriptions have been more difficult to define with consistent value.

“It takes some out of the box thinking,” says one independent precision dealer. “We used a GoPro camera mounted on a planter row unit running through the furrow to demonstrate the accuracy of fertilizer injection products we carry.

“Customers could visually see the application and we could do some back of the napkin ROI to show how you can save 50% on in-furrow insecticide costs with a $50,000 system and the check gets written.”

Using time-lapse cameras to illustrate emergence variances is also a useful method when demonstrating planter down force systems and the correlation with seed-to-soil contact.

“Maybe we need to look at selling some systems more as a risk management tool rather than trying to prove it with hard numbers, because they aren’t always available,” says Eric Siefka, precision farming manager with Bader & Sons. “As dealers, we shouldn’t be selling products as a luxury because those dollars are not there on the farms today. We need to do a better job of trying to collect more data at the end of the year and coming back to our growers and trying to prove to them with what data we can collect, did they save money, where did they save and how we can go forward with selling them more solutions and products.”