With planting season in the rearview mirror, dealers have a little breathing room until it’s time to plan for harvest.

For precision farming specialists, this brief respite can be a window of opportunity to connect with customers and solve lingering technology problems or introduce them to new products.

During at recent stop at Bodensteiner Implement in Dyersville, Iowa, the dealership’s precision specialist shared with Precision Farming Dealer, his strategy for strengthening customer relationships during summer months and how it can lead to long-term business.

“All spring we are reactive, because we don’t want to be in the wrong place at the wrong time if there’s a big problem,” says Randy Francois, integrated solutions specialist with the John Deere dealership. “But in summer, we want to take a proactive approach to getting out on farms and analyze what our customers’ needs and wants are to get a product sold.”

Francois has 10-15 “cold call” stops planned with customers who he either hasn’t met face-to-face, or are candidates for technology upgrades. For each visit, a salesperson from the dealership will accompany him.

Randy Francois, integrated solutions specialist at Bodensteiner Implement in Dyersville, Iowa, talks about taking a proactive approach to maintain customer relationships during the summer, and how setting up on-farm visits can be a valuable sales tool.

The conversation starts with discussing the customer’s experience with precision technology during planting, to include any problems with their GPS and any suggestions on how the dealership can improve service.

“Maybe the customer was scared of the system or they didn’t understand it and that’s why they haven’t kept building more products into it,” Francois says. “Some customers will be content right where they’re at. They’re not seeing themselves farming for more than 5 years, but others are still building their operations.”

In addition to analyzing the scope of a customer’s precision operation, Francois says the visits provide an opportunity to inform farmers about new equipment. With machinery and technology heavily integrated nowadays, packaging the two together in one sale for a customer is the goal.

“I want to get the salespeople involved because we’re not only going out there to sell the GPS product. We’re out there talking about the next generation of tractors, or combines, or tillage equipment or planting equipment that the customer is looking for,” Francois says. “It’s good to have a customer comfortable that their salesperson understands GPS just as much as the technician does.”

Another objective of summer visits is to test the waters on forthcoming precision service agreements coordinated through John Deere. Bodensteiner is in the process of setting up tiered service offerings and Francois says he wants to get input from customers on what they’d like to see included, or excluded from the agreements.

The motivation is that once the service packages are finalized, there will be enough options to suit every customer, he says.

“We’re still trying to develop these as a dealership because until you get out there and talk to enough customers, it’s hard to get them to all fit into one of those tiers,” Francois says. “The bottom line is if a customer isn’t satisfied, they might go to a third-party dealer. We don’t want that to happen, so proactively keeping in contact and listening to what they want is what we’re trying to do to prevent that from happening.”