Brenton Nestler is an internationally certified facilitator and coach, and he’s also InspiraFarms’ Special Advisor on sales. He is accredited by the NeuroLeadership Group as a Results Coaching Systems Executive, Team and Life Coach; and by the Learning Performance Institute as a Certified Online Learning Facilitator. Brent specialises in helping business leaders, teams and organisations develop their sales, customer service and communication capabilities. Based in South Africa, Brenton works with an international base of clients online and in person.
What are the major challenges that agribusinesses face when trying to access new and more demanding markets?
Typically the biggest challenge is to avoid approaching a market and potential customers from a place of desperation. As with any business, in order to gain traction in a new market, it’s critically important to investigate and stay constantly on top of who the various stakeholders are; what their individual experiences, needs, demands and barriers faced are; and also, to understand the products / services mix of that market and the type of culture that it requires.
If one doesn’t first understand the market, its role-players, and how they play the game in [that market], one will always struggle to tailor a strategic approach and a product / service / pricing mix that meets those potential customers’ needs and challenges appropriately. And one will definitely struggle to build the connections and credibility needed to secure access to conversations with potential new customers.
What are the main skills an agro-entrepreneur needs to have for negotiating with new clients and reaching new markets?
- First and foremost, a deep and enthusiastic curiosity that drives an enquiring approach and passion for delivering great value.
- The ability to research, analyse, and match market and prospects’ needs to specific approaches, and most relevant product and service offerings.
- Knowing who to approach, engage with, and ally with in a decision-making team, not just an individual.
- Acquiring these skills involves designing and practicing clear and familiarised approaches for capturing and holding the right type of attention from the right people.
- Knowing that the person who asks the great and relevant questions at the right time, controls the conversation; and that “Telling does not equal Selling”.
- Strong communication skills that can ask clever questions, listen deeply, and clarify concepts. This should be complemented by the confident ability to speak about and present only the best information, to address the relevant key needs, in a systematic way to the right people, at the right time.
- Strong personal discipline, time management, and focused organisational skills.
What are most important things an agribusiness needs to have for building and delivering a sales strategy?
The most important thing is to actually have a well thought out and well-designed sales strategy and approach that matches the best products and services in the most effective and competitive way at optimal pricing for the market. There are many different sales systems, methodologies, and approaches in the world. It’s important to choose and consciously work with one that is aligned to and appropriate for the size and complexity of your business model and the market in which you are operating.
Your entire organisation must be both clear and aware of the chosen sales strategy and approach, AND actively participating in delivering and supporting it. Everything and everyone must be aligned in order to ensure a seamless, quality customer experience from their first exposure and contact to your company, throughout the sales process, to fulfillment, and then continuing on through after-sales service and relationship management.
You must also have good systems and tools in place—like a decent CRM app—to store, track, and manage the flow of critical customer and process information.
Regular review and analysis of the strategy, processes, approaches, feedback, and deals should be conducted and fed back into both the sales and marketing efforts.
Ongoing training, mentoring, and coaching of those processes will really help to keep the strategy sharp, efficient, and relevant.
How can you measure success in a sales strategy?
Aside from the obvious measures of whether or not units, volumes, and revenue targets are being met, some great ways to evaluate whether your strategy is working include:
- Are you getting positive references, testimonials and referrals?
- Are you getting repeat and upsell business from existing customers?
- Are you able to turn your experiences and case studies of previous and existing customers into valuable learnings that enable you to repeat those wins with new customers?
- Is your “Hit Rate” climbing, and are you getting more Yes’s and fewer No’s?
- Is your Sales Cycle / Time becoming faster and more efficient?
What last tips or recommendations can you give to an agribusiness that wants to improve sales?
As the great golfer Gary Player is quoted as having said, “The more I practice, the luckier I get.” Take the hit and miss component out of selling by consciously investing time, attention, resources, and money into developing and mastering the art of selling well.
The amount of effort you put into the planning, preparation, and opening of your customer engagement, as well as the creation of value for them, is directly proportional to the amount of success or struggle you will experience when dealing with uncertainty, and objections when closing deals. Always remember that the customer is buying into their Experience of You – your company, dealing with you, and whether or not they can trust you – before they buy into your product / service offering.
Stop hard-selling, and instead help and guide the customer to buying intelligently with you as a trusted partner.
If you want to know more about sales strategies and sales coaching, you can connect with Brent at firstname.lastname@example.org