June 19, 2017 | Tech Talk | | Views: 983

CRM: A Love/Hate Relationship - Part 2

Now that we discussed the "hate", let’s dig into the "love" side of CRM

CRM: A Love/Hate Relationship - Part 2

It’s been said, the only thing constant, is change. It couldn’t be more true in Agribusiness. The pace of mergers & acquisitions has increased for both agribusiness and our customers. As this happens, it becomes difficult to keep track of customers and the products & services they use. In addition, grain and livestock producers are holding us to a higher standard when it comes to managing their information. As their business and ours become more complex, customers no longer want to repeat or reenter information. To be effective, our products, services and employees need to be coordinating and working in synch.

Otherwise, your customer might say: “Why doesn’t the sales coordinator know my product preferences? I gave that to my sales person last week!” “Why doesn’t the accounts receivables collection person know that I gave a check to the sales person yesterday? That’s what the sales coordinator told me to do!” “Why does the sales person call on me if I have to repeat it all to her office or plant?” Customers expect us to make it easier for them to conduct business with us.

As we merge & consolidate, customers and the administration of their accounts often change. Economies of scale may allow for your credit processing to be done in a new or consolidated location. You might give up a few of your customers and gain a few from a new sales person on your team. Let me ask, is it faster for that person to go into their home filing cabinet, pull out manual records and send them to you? Or simply, give you access to this customer’s CRM file that is backed up online?

In Part 1, we covered a few of the components about CRM you might not like. Today, we cover those components you love about CRM that helps you become better, faster and more organized for your customers.

Why We Love CRM?

One Source: All information in one place

There’s no multiple files, multiple locations nor multiple people to talk to. All account information is in one place and can be accessed by anyone in your company.

Worried about IT security or confidentiality issues? No worries. These programs can compartmentalize info for an as-needed access for each user in your company. Two critical components to actually realize this advantage:

  1. Everyone has to use it and enter information to make it effective.
  2. Accounting software has to be connected and feed data into the CRM program.

Dashboards: Ability to cross reference information

This is one of the greatest features of the CRM programs for the sales person and their manager. Dashboards allow you to compare and monitor customer, product and sales results that would take too long to process manually. With your accounting program feeding info into CRM, you can now easily sort data into dashboard style pages for quick snapshots. This allows you to stay current on Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s). If a KPI falls outside of parameters, you can quickly dial down into the data to uncover what might be causing this. I admit that I was a spreadsheet junky and poured over large accounting reports for many years. I prided myself on knowing the ins and outs of how to read these reports. Then CRM came along and made it faster and easier with more current statistics. It gave me the ability to connect and sort data that was nearly impossible without CRM.

Automated: forget less – follow-up more

Even if you have one of the most elaborate methods of managing your schedule of calls, meetings and follow-up activities, you can always use a backup method. However, if you are like the majority of us, your home-made territory management methods are lacking and you often drop the ball on coordinating your schedule. Properly used, CRM gives us the ability to not only keep better control of our schedule, but also we can include other teammates in the management of the account. These programs allow you to “Tag” or “Copy” or “Inform” others on the team. You may even enjoy the ability to “Assign a Task”. So, impress your customer with your ability to forget less, personally follow up more and involve the whole team in the account. It might just be the differentiator you are looking for with a customer.

Summary:

When launching a new CRM program, we often promote the positives of the program and downplay the negatives. I think that’s a mistake. Our customer-facing

employees then go out to implement the program and find the launch period to be daunting, information isn’t loaded in yet and they don’t feel comfortable with the validity of the data that is in the program. Keep the vision of what CRM has to offer and how valuable it will be as a resource for everyone, not just managers. Keep promoting the vision of how CRM will give your team a competitive advantage. Help everyone understand the learning cycle on the program.

  • Data will be loaded and accurate eventually
  • Customer info will be accessible
  • Dashboards will make customer management better, faster, easier

Join me next time as I go through best practices on launching your new CRM and implementing a program everyone can benefit from.

June 19, 2017 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 399

Hot and Dry Conditions across the Northern Plains of the Dakotas this week

Grains were Mixed to Start the Week

Hot and Dry Conditions across the Northern Plains of the Dakotas this week

Grains were mixed to start the week with corn trading lower, soybeans trading higher and wheat showing only modest gains going into the break.

 

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Private forecaster Planalytics sees US corn yield at 166.9, off from their last forecast of 167.4 two weeks ago and well below USDA trend yield of 170.7. Most areas of the country are doing on par with normal, except for the Northern Plains of SD & ND where hot and dry conditions are taking a toll. Yields there are expected to be 10 or more bushels below trend based on current conditions.

 

For soybeans, Planalytics sees a 46.8 bushel yield for the US average. This is off 0.2 bushels from their previous forecast and below USDA’s yield of 48 bushels per acre. As in the case of corn, the Dakota’s are seeing the most downside in soybean yield based on current conditions.

 

Weather in Western Europe is expected to get turned up this week with intense heat stress expected. Areas of France, England and Germany are expected to see highs in the mid 90s to near 100s for much of this week. Next week should see a return to Normal. In the US, two storm systems will track thru the Midwest this week bringing rain to the Ohio River Valley and Southeast. The second system will bring rains of 0.5 inches to 2 inches from Iowa and Minnesota and up thru Michigan. The Northern Plains will continue to see limited rain potential.

 

The risk of trading futures, hedging, and speculating can be substantial. Grain Hedge is a Branch of Foremost Trading LLC (NFA ID: 0307930)

June 16, 2017 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 317

Weekly Cash Comments

Weekly Cash Commentary for week ending 06/16/2017

Grain basis was mostly stable this week for corn and soybeans with neither commodity showing any strong trends on the week. On average, US corn basis was up 0.9 cents a bushel while soy basis was up 0.7 cents.

 

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In corn, basis levels were firmer across the Southern Plains and river terminals this week. The Gulf market inched higher by 1 cent a bushel but river terminals as a group were consistently 2 to 4 higher on the week. Meanwhile, ethanol plants as a group were mostly flat, but there was some higher bids at some plants in the WCB that ranged from 3 to 5 above last week.

 

For soybeans, basis levels at river terminals were a drag on the broader market as river terminals as a group sinking 3.5 cents on the week while the Gulf basis actually was bolstered by 2 cents on the week. For soy crush facilities, the basis was up 2.7 cents a bushel with 5 to 8 cent gains fairly typical across the plants in the WCB.

 

The risk of trading futures, hedging, and speculating can be substantial. Grain Hedge is a Branch of Foremost Trading LLC (NFA ID: 0307930)

June 16, 2017 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 292

Grains Continue to Advance in the Overnight Session

July Wheat Reaches its Highest Mark in Six Weeks

Grains continued to advance overnight led by the wheat complex which saw July wheat reach its highest mark in 6 weeks.

 

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The corn market took a wild ride yesterday with Dec corn trading down to $3.88 in the morning opening bell where underlying support is just below at $3.85 but posted a 12-cent rally back to $4. Yield forecasts from private analysts continue to suggest below-trend yield potential and yesterday’s mid-afternoon weather model run produced more warmth and drier weather than previous models.

 

The condition of French soft wheat declined slightly in the week to June 12, with 74% of crops rated good or excellent compared with 75% the previous week, farm office FranceAgriMer said on Friday. The corn crop was rated 86% good-to-excellent down 1% from last week.

 

The latest US model runs continue to show good precip coverage from IL to the East for the next two week period while the Central Plains, Northern Plains and WCB will see limited rainfall. Temperature patterns should follow the rain development with the same areas expected to be dry should see above normal temp readings in this two-week period.

 

The risk of trading futures, hedging, and speculating can be substantial. Grain Hedge is a Branch of Foremost Trading LLC (NFA ID: 0307930)

June 15, 2017 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 348

Crude Oil Down this Morning Following Sharp Sell Off

Grains Lower Heading into Morning Break

Grains were lower heading into the morning break with spring wheat continuing its leader role with nearly double-digit losses. Crude oil was also down following yesterday’s sharp sell-off.

 

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Private consultant Strategie Grains cut its forecast for the EU wheat crop to 141.6 MMT, down 1.1 MMT from last month, but still 4% above the 136.1 MMT in 2016, when output was curbed by a poor French crop. For corn, they noted a slight cutback of 0.1 MMT to 60 MMT which would be unchanged from last year. But they noted the weather is set to remain dry in most of the primary corn growing countries and the condition of the crop could deteriorate rapidly.

 

In international deals, the Korea Feed Association (KFA) purchased about 65,000 MT of corn to be sourced from optional origins in a tender that closed on Thursday. South Korea's Korea Corn Processing Industry Association (KOCOPIA) also purchased about 60,000 MT of corn to be sourced from optional origins in a tender that closed on Thursday. Meanwhile, Japan bought 162,000 MT of wheat, of which 98,500 MT was from the US.

 

Weekly Export Sales-

 

 

  Actual

Estimated

Wheat - NC

  373

350-550

Corn - OC

  600

500-700

Corn - NC

   13

100-300

Soybeans-OC

  340

250-450

Soybeans-NC

  314     

100-300

 

 

 

Crude futures edged lower again Thursday, following sharp declines in the prior session, but investor sentiment continued to be battered by data showing that the market remains awash in surplus oil. On Thursday, oil prices tanked by nearly 4% to their lowest level since November, following U.S. Energy Information Administration data that showed the decrease in crude stockpiles last week was smaller than anticipated. Compounding the woes was the unexpected increase in gasoline stocks, surprising many traders and analysts who expected much of the excess gasoline to be mopped up during the U.S. summer driving season. Data show gasoline demand has fallen for three weeks straight.
 

The risk of trading futures, hedging, and speculating can be substantial. Grain Hedge is a Branch of Foremost Trading LLC (NFA ID: 0307930)

June 14, 2017 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 180

Spring Wheat Catapults to a New 2 Year High Mark

For the US, weather looks to be hot for the Central Plains and Midwest with temps 3 to 5C above normal for the next several days

Grains continued to move higher overnight with Minneapolis wheat adding 12 cents to yesterday’s 25-cent advance.

 

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Spring wheat prices hit a 2 year high as the market braces for cutbacks from key growing areas in the High Plains. Weather forecasts for ND show no real relief in the 14-day period. Minor storms bringing limited rain are expected this coming weekend and again in another 10 days.

 

For the US, weather looks to be hot for the Central Plains and Midwest with temps 3 to 5C above normal for the next several days. Rainfall is expected in most key growing areas but the WCB rains are expected to be somewhat limited.

 

In China, the government there approved two new GMO varieties - Dow’s Enlist Corn and Monsanto’s Vistive Gold soybeans. China has dragged its feet on permitting new GMO varieties, generally taking 6 years to approve while other countries are more on par with 3 years. In May, Beijing promised to speed up the evaluations of eight US varieties of GMO crops by the end of the month under a trade deal with the US.

 

The Fed will make an announcement today on interest rates, with a widely expected quarter-point interest rate hike. This would push the Fed funds target rate above 1% for the first time since 2008. Market participants' focus will be on signals on the frequency of further hikes and how the Fed plans to unwind its huge Treasury bond stockpile over the years ahead.
 
 

The risk of trading futures, hedging, and speculating can be substantial. Grain Hedge is a Branch of Foremost Trading LLC (NFA ID: 0307930)

June 13, 2017 | Kevin McNew | Views: 186
June 13, 2017 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 425

Spring Wheat Catapults Higher

USDA Crop Progress Report show Spring Wheat Conditions Plunged

Grains were bolstered overnight led by spring wheat which catapulted higher following USDA’s crop condition scores on Monday showed further deterioration.

 

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USDA’s crop progress report showed spring wheat conditions plunged to only 45% good-to-excellent, well below market expectations of 53% going into the report and a 55% reading last week.  For corn, the conditions did slip to 67% as compared to 68% last week. For soybeans the first reading of the year came in at 66%, off of the 70% expected.

 

In export news, the Taiwan Flour Millers association bought 92,400 MT of US milling wheat overnight. In France, the Ag Ministry there pegged corn sowing at 1.37 million hectares, down 3.3% from last year and 15% below the 5-year average. It also trimmed its estimate of wheat acres to 5.15 million hectares off 0.5% from last year.

 

Egypt received offers on Monday’s tender for wheat with the lowest offer on an FOB basis being Ukraine with Russia, Romania and French wheat also being offered up. No US offers were presented in the tender.

 

The risk of trading futures, hedging, and speculating can be substantial. Grain Hedge is a Branch of Foremost Trading LLC (NFA ID: 0307930)

June 12, 2017 | Kevin McNew | Views: 375
June 12, 2017 | Tech Talk | By Greg Martinelli | Views: 1346

CRM: A Love/Hate Relationship

Part 1: What agribusinesses can’t stand about Customer Relationship Management programs

CRM: A Love/Hate Relationship

Is it Facebook for business or a powerful sales tool?  Is it Big Brother or a new way to serve customers?  Is it here to stay or just a passing fad?  I’m talking of course about Customer Relationship Management (CRM) programs that are sweeping through our industry.  Join me in a series on the Love/Hate Relationship that we all have with CRM and find out how we can learn to use it effectively.  Launching it with three different sales teams, I can tell you from first-hand experience, that much of your success is in your hands.  Find out how to make it an effective tool for your team.  Not just your sales team, but your entire business team as they serve your customer. 

Why Do We Hate CRM?

Relies too much on Technology

When the program comes to your company, it is unpopulated with customer info.  Hopefully, you have it auto populated from your accounting/order entry software so someone doesn’t have to hand enter all this information.  Even with the customer basics entered, the program doesn’t seem very useful.  There are no notes on the history of sales calls.  That info is in your notebooks or maybe a file folder in your office.  “Now, my company wants me to plug in every time I have a phone call or send an email” “I don’t see the point of putting it all in there, when I have what I need in my notebooks”

Feels like Big Brother

This complaint comes out frequently from sales people.  They may not openly say it, but it is there.  A big reason is the way we promote the value of CRM.  When the CRM software company sells the product to the VP of sales or General Manager or whoever is buying the software, they often sell it on the value of continuity during sales person turnover.  “If a sales person leaves your company, you will have all their sales call history in the CRM program.  The next sales person will have the info to pick up where the last sales person left off!”  While very true, that sales pitch is to you (General Manager or VP of Sales).  It should end with you.  Please don’t promote this feature/benefit to your sales team.  I say this because I have heard it said several times.  Trust me, it doesn’t sit well with your current employees. What they hear in this message “If you leave, we have all your information” or worse “We can replace you and not miss a beat with your customers.”

Too time consuming

By far, the biggest complaint that comes up with CRM is the time commitment to keep it updated.  “I’m on the road selling all day.  I’m not going to sit at home all evening and enter every phone call made and email sent.”  Ok, I get it – you’re a busy guy or gal.  You have a life outside of work.  First, there are ways to make the data entry faster and easier.  You don’t need to sit around all evening entering a thesis on your sales calls.  Secondly, learning what to put in the program and what to leave out is an important part to making the program useful.

Uderstanding how to use the program 

I put this complaint in here because I’ve see teams struggle in the beginning of a CRM launch.  Often, the software company sales person puts on the first training sessions for you on how the program works. At first glance, the program looks overwhelming.  During this presentation, the CRM sales person displays all the bells and whistles of this program working flawlessly in synch as territory info is sliced and diced several different ways.  Check marks are used, status updates are connected to your Outlook calendar, connections to your contacts are interwoven to seamlessly make this program your new personal assistant.  Like most of us, you finally get the program on your computer and you struggle to remember your password to log in, let alone all the different tabs, links and tools it has. 

So how can we love CRM?

When I talk with customers and prospects, I always ask if they are using a CRM program.  Typically, I get an exasperated response.  Either they launched it and it’s not going well or they are thinking of launching one but struggling with some of the complaints listed above. 

It begs the question – “What’s to Love?”  There’s plenty.  A competitive advantage, organization beyond the human ability to achieve and much more.

Join me next time as I go through the reasons we Love CRM.  We’ll learn how to mitigate the parts we hate and expand on those we love to make CRM an effective tool for your team.

 

Greg Martinelli, Ag Sales ProfessionalGreg Martinelli is a sales coach, consultant and trainer who works with agriculture companies to dramatically increase sales productivity, profits and ultimately dominate their market. He spent the last 25 years developing sales teams across the Midwest that focused on the feed and grain business for both national and international markets. He runs Ag Sales Professionals, focusing
on high engagement and high productivity. He can be reached at Greg@GregMartinelli.net or 608-751-6971.

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