Danine Pontarelli

Sugar Vertical for Farm & Agri industry

Blog Post created by Danine Pontarelli on Aug 31, 2017

Old McDonald had a farm…and it was full of potential profits…but his outdated systems kept him from discovering them. My spin on the classic children’s song may not have the bouncy rhythms of the original, but it has some truth. The agriculture industry has done a wonderful job of adopting equipment technology like combines and harvesters to automate tasks in the field, but when it comes to data, it’s an industry that still finds itself falling behind. Technology Advisors is looking to change that.

The idea to build a specialized agribusiness CRM first struck after a recent conversation with a CRM customer in the seed distribution industry. This customer hadn’t previously felt the need to implement CRM in his business. All his seed reps were long-time sales veterans with their own working processes. However, when one of those reps had to leave unexpectedly, the business owner found himself floundering through an Excel sheet of contacts not knowing who to reach out to first. He had to individually call each contact to understand their buying history, ordering quantities, and last contact with his company. At a seed conference later that year, we asked his peers about their sales experiences and were shocked to find that they too were using Excel files or some other outdated tool. Below, we’ll discuss why this approach is dangerous and how we’re using Seed CRM to try and help.   


Stale Technology

Regardless the size of the farm, if you're still using Excel spreadsheets to track business statistics, you're missing out on the power of your own data. Basic software like Excel spreadsheets is great when you’re first starting up. It’s inexpensive, easy to manipulate, and quick to update. However, spreadsheets only go so far. For example, Microsoft Excel’s FAST (Farm Analysis Solution Tools) suite attempts to address financial planning and crop management needs, but fails to connect customers with suppliers. When a business becomes more complex with additional land, crops, customers, and needs, Excel simply can’t keep up. Organizations such as Farm Business Farm Management try to help agribusiness professionals cope with the analytics and management gap of Excel’s limitations, but without a software tool, data management is still an ongoing struggle.


There are several smaller companies that offer CRM-like products. While these tools are certainly a step in the right direction, they too have analytic restrictions that limit you and your potential for profit. The companies that produce these smaller CRMs don’t necessarily specialize in CRM, so while the product may work to an extent, it most likely will not integrate with all your existing software systems or be easily reconfigurable to your individual business needs. In addition, without a full team of support and training personnel, the user adoption necessary to get your team up and running is often non-existent, so you end up spending a lot of money for a software program no one will ever use. 



Evolving Communication

Many small to mid-size operations rely heavily on word-of-mouth to generate sales and set up contracts. While this method may seem effective at first, it only reaches so many people at the local grain elevator. It used to be - especially in agribusiness - that you could pull up to a farm and talk to someone. These days, we're all moving so quickly that that approach no longer works. You are expected to call or text ahead of time and it's not always easy to get a hold of someone. It may be necessary to reach out multiple times to even set up a meeting. CRM is extremely useful to track all the interactions (or attempted interactions) so sales people can understand instantly where stand with a customer. Email communications are logged in the system so you’ll always know your last point of contact. Plus, add-on products for phone integration help you log phone conversations and double down on your communication data.


Evolving communication also demands mobility. With the mobility of devices like iPads and cell phones, agribusiness professionals are taking their tech out into the fields. With CRM, you can build targeted lists and automate reminders to send personalized messages to buyers in the right season. You can even keep notes on individual people and accounts to help personalize your sales interactions – when is their birthday? What is their favorite sports team?  Pull up that information on-the-go via the SugarCRM app so you have the information in front of you during an on-site meeting. 


How Can Seed CRM Help?

Technology Advisors has taken the best components of SugarCRM, a leading customer relationship management software, and added capabilities specific to the needs of the agriculture industry. Developers worked with seed companies to address the features necessary to grain businesses and customized functions to perform the actions most crucial to them. The result was Seed CRM, an innovative and pioneering way to reach your full data potential. A support team of tech specialists provide training, on-boarding, and in-house integration to complete your Seed CRM experience.


Seed CRM is a flexible, powerful way to unite all aspects of your data to analyze trends, buying habits, sales activities, customized opportunities, and much more. It works together with ERP (enterprise resource planning) and integrates with any back-office software, SeedWare, and Quickbooks to create a 360-degree view of your data, align your processes, and connect your systems. Its analytic power provides complete data transparency, allowing you to identify opportunities almost immediately. Seed CRM helps you support case management and tracking, monitor sales activities with smart follow-up and reminders, and recognize market trends. With this new way to look at data, you can better capture customer information, track buying histories, follow year-to-year buyer activity, and understand buying trends. Combine these features with the ability to automate processes such as marketing and quoting and your business potential is endless.


With fast implementation and complete support along the way, Seed CRM gives agribusiness professionals a seamless experience and unlimited returns on investment. Check out our quick video below for more details.