Farm Tender

Ag Tech Sunday - Organisational Efficiencies by Centralising Quotes through a Digital Platform

By Pat Sullivan - AgVend

When we start working with a new ag retailer or supplier partner, we ask them what their goals are for having a digital platform. After an initial remark of, "To make my life easier!", the answer to this question always includes mentions of improving their customers' experience and increasing their organization's efficiency. Now, we can launch into the first step of the AgVend adoption strategy, which is to have our partners select one sales process and move it into the platform. This is key to getting your team motivated and prepared to use the tool.

To have a successful launch and transition a process into the platform, you first need your internal teams to adopt the technology and some new habits. Of course, this is easier said than done! If sales agronomists and other employees are enthused about using the portal and are comfortable using it, they are four times more likely to introduce the tool to customers. In turn, growers are two times more likely to utilize the portal if they can interact with their sales representative within it. Having the ag retail business, sales teams, and growers all utilizing one digital tool will accelerate adoption on all fronts.

So, how do you get the team to adopt the new digital platform?

There are two essential elements to getting your team to use your new portal.

  1. Identifying areas within your sales process that can be improved with your tools
  2. Training your team to ensure they are comfortable with the platform. (We talk a little bit about this in our onboarding blog post, and we will have more on training in the future.)

Let's focus on the first element. We recommend finding areas of the sales process that can be made more efficient with the new digital solution by reviewing your current procedures. This deep-dive will help uncover areas that require a lot of back-and-forth between the sales agronomist and the customer or the agronomist and other team members. Commonly, we find the following creating bottlenecks:

  • Communicating quotes or pricing information
  • Order submission
  • Looking up previous orders and invoices

Once this analysis is completed, we recommend moving at least one of these processes into the portal. When this change is introduced to the sales team, it's important to emphasize how it will reduce friction and improve efficiency. Also, reiterate that this tool is designed to strengthen their relationships, not replace their roles. From there, we suggest doing comprehensive training to make the team comfortable and create the habit of utilizing the platform for daily tasks. While there are many options to consider, the most common process our partner retailers have moved into the portal is product quoting.

Why is digital quoting a good place to start?

Today, across the ag retail industry, quotes are delivered to growers in a variety of ways. We find that many organizations have different methods depending on the location or even which sales agronomist is doing the quoting. Ag retailers often share that their current process is spread between text messages, emails, and printed excel sheets. These inconsistencies make it difficult for sales representatives and growers to organize, reference, and compare quotes year-over-year. Sales managers don’t have a simple way to analyze the timing and effectiveness of quotes across the organization. A recent survey of sales reps at an ag retailer provides a more in-depth look into how they quote customers today:

By centralizing quotes in a digital platform, you provide a single location that the grower, sales agronomist, and the necessary members of the organization can all access instantly. Using one tool provides sales managers more visibility into what and when customers have been quoted, and a greater ability to provide transparency of the process to the entire organization. Recently, one of our partners shared they discovered that pricing a specific fungicide 5% lower resulted in a 50% increase in the likelihood of a customer ordering it. With these insights, the retailer was able to discuss the wholesale cost with their supplier and make some in-season adjustments. This led to a 10% increase in their overall sales for that fungicide compared to the previous three years.

Digital quotes allow customers and sales representatives to easily turn offers directly into orders, thus creating further efficiencies in the purchasing process. It's a great example of how a digital platform enables you to meet a grower wherever, whenever, and however they choose to do business.

The goals you've set for your digital platform matter. To maximize your success when launching a digital strategy at your organization, it's important to think about ways these tools can improve your team's workflow while also improving your customers' experience. Whether you want to simplify processes or create opportunities for digital touchpoints with your customers, digital quoting is a great place to start.

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