Betsy Francoeur, Contributing Writer
After 11 years as a precision ag specialist at Kunau Implement in DeWitt, Iowa, Rodney Bratthauer has watched precision ag evolve from “hocus pocus” to a set of necessary management tools in the minds of area farmers.
Despite the benefits precision ag can bring to a farming operation, selling precision ag to farmers who have never used it requires listening, understanding and flexibility on the part of the precision ag specialist, says Bratthauer.
Get to Know Your Customer
“Asking the right questions can give you valuable insight into a farmer’s current situation and future goals,” he says. “If you can get a good understanding of their business, the precision ag sale comes very easily.”
Begin by learning where your customer is comfortable starting out with precision ag. As you build trust with the customer, find out what their long-term goals are. Make additional precision ag recommendations based on where the farmer wants to be in the future.
“It’s easy for customers to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tools and techniques available under the precision ag umbrella. To avoid paralyzing a farmer during the sales process, just discuss the tools that will work for their specific situation,” Bratthauer recommends.
Work With What Your Customer Has
Selling precision ag to new customers requires the flexibility to recommend the right tools for the customer’s existing equipment.
“You want to work with a farmer’s existing equipment, capabilities and situation,” Bratthauer says. “For example, if a customer has a Case IH-New Holland implement, I’ll recommend the Case IH AccuGuide system that’s specifically designed to complement Case IH equipment. But if a guy’s got a CAT tractor or a John Deere tractor, we won’t take them down the Case IH AccuGuide road. We’ll use the Trimble display because we can incorporate that into guidance control, section control, vehicle tracking and much more.”
Managing Customer Concerns
According to Bratthauer, the two biggest concerns farmers have when beginning precision ag are the upfront cost and the ongoing equipment maintenance.
“It’s easy for customers to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tools and techniques available under the precision ag umbrella…”
— Rodney Bratthauer,
“Upfront cost is always the biggest hurdle for new precision ag customers,” he says. “Say a farmer buys a new tractor. Now I tell him I’m going to put $15,000 worth of guidance equipment in it. Customers worry about how they’re going to pay for that. But once you put it in their equipment, they won’t let you take it back because they like it and see its value. They can appreciate how it helps everything from operator fatigue to not having to worry about driving the tractor—they can just watch their implements run.”
Another question Bratthauer is often asked is: “Who’s going to service my new precision ag equipment?”
“Here at Kunau, we have skilled technicians on the ground that can get out to the farm if there are problems. Farmers can call my cell or they can talk to our shop foremen. Sharing our capabilities to support them reassures new precision ag customers,” says Bratthauer.
“At the end of the day, if you can keep your customers running, you’ll keep them happy,” he says.
1. Get to know your customer’s current situation and their goals for the future.
2. Tailor recommendations to the customer’s existing equipment.
3. Emphasize the technical support your customer will receive.