The “Death” of a Salesman

By Ross Dobson, Marketing

Every industry has experienced the impact of digital technology on consumer purchases and the way consumers interact with companies. Many have suggested digital technology will make the role of traditional retail and salespeople obsolete.

Yet, from airlines to the grocery store, technology hasn’t eliminated but rather elevated the role of the sales and service staff.

It’s now AG’s turn at the plate. Champion Seed recently redesigned and enhanced the capabilities of our website to enable growers to better research and compare products as well as access yield data.

We’ve done this because growers today are doing more independent research in advance of meeting with a sales representative.

They expect their seed purchase experience to be more in line with how they think about purchasing equipment or vehicles or just about anything else you can think of today. And, they want information to be more transparent and readily available across the board.

More upfront product research by a grower means a deeper, more productive conversation when he engages with a seedsman; less small talk and more pointed, informed and productive questions – less about which products and more about “why these products?”

At the same time, digital technology is continuing to make pre-purchase discussions richer, it is also changing the depth of information available to make decisions with the aid of platforms like FieldView from The Climate Corporation.

It also has the potential to reshape distribution as we are seeing from online digital marketplaces. This will undoubtedly continue to play a transformational role in the end-to-end sales process.

So will all of this mean the “death” of the salesman? Possibly. But it strengthens the role of the true seedsman.

There may be less need for salesmen as growers, and consumers in general, are more influenced by self-research and peer influence but the role of the seedsman will expand and evolve and the need for direct on-farm relationships will only deepen.

The amount of information available to the grower and the choices available to him – even within a single company – can be complex and overwhelming.

The role of a true seedsman will be to engage and partner with the grower as an enabler helping the grower arrive at a decision point or validating a perspective or perception the grower has developed through online research and peer influence.

In this role, the seedsman isn’t a salesman but an on-site professional, like a doctor making a house call. His role is supportive and consultative.

To do this, the seedsman needs to be more knowledgeable than ever before.

He needs to be an expert at interpreting the wealth of data available through Climate. He needs to be stronger than ever from an agronomic perspective – not just about his company’s products but about all products that are applicable to the farm no matter whose these may be.

And, he needs to do all this in as unbiased and effective a means as possible.

At Champion, we want to be at the forefront of this evolution. Over the past several seasons, we’ve invested more in the training, support, and education of our team to be sure each representative is ready to play that greater consultative and informative role, ready to tap into a broader team of agronomic and digital AG experts as needed.

Some may believe the role of the seedsman isn’t new – it goes back generations. This is true. The “death” of the salesman is the rebirth of the true seedsman.