June 12, 2017 | Kevin McNew | Views: 190
June 12, 2017 | Tech Talk | By Greg Martinelli | Views: 360

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.

June 12, 2017 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 128

Export Activity Perks up this Morning

Northern Plains over the weekend saw Modest Rains

Rains over the weekend combined with a forecast for cooler temps and more precip helped push the grain complex lower to start the week.


USDA reported the sale of 130,000 MT (old crop) of soybeans to unknown destinations this morning.


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Over the weekend the Northern Plains saw modest rains of mostly 0.25” but not a drought buster. Highs on Friday in the Plains were 90s to low 100s. The outlook for this week is warm for much of the Midwest but showers will develop later in the week bringing cooler temps. Overall, there is little in the two-week forecast to cause concern about crop losses with most areas seeing some moisture and temperatures oscillating between hot and cool as storms track across the grain belt.


Export activity has perked up a bit to start the week. Late on Friday Egypt announced a tender to buy wheat, the results of which should be announced soon. Saudi Arabia bought 805,000 MT of hard wheat to be optional origin from the EU, North America or South America. And, a group of Israeli private buyers issued a tender for 850,000 MT of corn and 30,000 MT of feed wheat.


China's soybean futures hit three-month highs on Monday, as talk that the the government has ramped up checks on imports of GMO beans. China allows imported beans to be used by crushers to make soymeal for animal feed but none of the beans, are permitted for use in food products.


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

June 06, 2017 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 163

Minneapolis Wheat Lead the Gains in Grain in the Overnight Session

USDA Crop Progress report shows Spring Wheat Conditions Dropped Sharply

Grains were higher overnight led by Minneapolis wheat which had double digits gains going into the morning break.


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Yesterday after the close USDA’s crop progress report showed spring wheat conditions dropped sharply to 55% good-to-excellent, down from 62% last week. Winter wheat conditions also turned lower, slipping to 49% good-to-excellent vs 50% last week. Corn, on the other hand, managed to improve 3% to 68% good-to-excellent.


In international news, Iraq was tendering for wheat and the lowest offer was from the US. But the final results of the tender have not been announced yet. Algeria was also tendering for wheat. Overnight, Palm Oil futures in Malaysia fell about 1% on strength in tandem with rival oils.


The US Dollar sank to its weakest since mid-April against the yen on Tuesday, as economic data drove U.S. government bond yields to lows not seen since Donald Trump's election last year and investors sought refuge before big events on Thursday.


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

June 05, 2017 | Kevin McNew | Views: 359
June 05, 2017 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 94

Wheat Harvest Slowed in Texas and Oklahoma

US Northern Plains weather to be Mostly Dry thru mid-June

Grains were holding on to modest gains heading into the morning break after a night of fairly limited two-sided trade.


USDA reported a 120,000 MT sale of soybeans to unknown destinations. Half of it is for OC delivery and the remaining half for NC 2017 delivery.


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Wheat harvest was slowed last week in TX/OK as rains kept farmers from making much progress. According to US Wheat Associates, the TX crop was 27% cut while the OK crop was 16% cut. A high percentage of wheat acres in SW OK extending southward into C TX Texas have been swathed for hay, or otherwise abandoned, in favor of planting cotton.


In Argentina, rains have slowed the corn harvest there as farmers have cut only 40% of the crop versus a normal pace of 60% at this time of year. This could lead to a glut of corn on the market later this summer. Argentina is expecting a record overall 2016/17 corn crop of at least 39 million tonnes, with about 60 percent, a bigger proportion than ever, planted late in the season. Brazil is usually the dominant exporter in August and US supplies are generally just coming to market in September, so Argentina’s crop getting such a late start and slow harvest could add to the price pressure.


In the US Northern Plains, the weather continues to point to mostly dry conditions thru mid-June. A small amount of moisture is expected in the next day for SD/ND but after that it will be another before week before any noticeable precip shows up.


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

June 02, 2017 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 40

Crude Oil Continues to Sink Hitting a Three Week Low Mark

Grains Mixed in the Overnight

Grains were mixed overnight with modest changes heading into the morning break. In outside markets, crude oil continued to sink to hitting its lowest mark in three weeks.


USDA reported the sale of 200,000 MT of soybeans to Spain this morning. The deal was for 70,000 MT of OC 2016 delivery and the remaining 130,000 MT for NC 2017.


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US weather is leaning towards the dry side which should aid the Southern Plains wheat harvest. Meanwhile in France, the wheat crop there declined slightly as FranceAgriMer estimated that 75 percent of soft wheat was in good or excellent condition by Monday compared with 76 percent a week earlier. Last week’s heatwave may have impacted the crop there.


Yesterday after the market closed USDA reported their monthly industrial crushing data. That showed soy crushings in April of 149.8 MB vs expectations of 148.1 MB. For corn, 432.8 MB were used for fuel alcohol in April, that is up from 400.7 MB in the same month last year.


South Korea feed buyer NOFI bought 138,000 MT of corn and 64,000 MT of feed wheat. The source is optional origin. Weekly export sales released this morning by USDA were strong for NC wheat and OC soybeans, but otherwise at the low end of expectations or below expectations.


Export Sales-




Wheat - OC



Wheat - NC



Corn - OC



Corn - NC 











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

June 01, 2017 | Kevin McNew | Views: 49
June 01, 2017 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 40

Corn Steady to Firm this Morning, but Range Bound

Traders continue to weigh the impact of excessive spring rains in the eastern Midwest

Grains continued to inch higher overnight while crude oil moved lower in the night session.


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Soybeans have found some support thanks to a labor strike at Argentina ports. The strike is expected to persist thru the weekend and will stall the flow of soybeans, soymeal and some by-products.


In international deals, Egypt bought 180,000 MT of wheat which will be sourced from Russia and Romania. The previous Egyptian deal had seen the US garner some of the business but this tender saw the US shut out. Two South Korean feed groups bought 60,000 MT of corn which could be of optional origin.


The European Commission on Thursday lowered its monthly estimates of EU production of 2017/18 wheat. They pegged the 28-country European Union wheat crop at 141.3 MMT from 141.9 MMT a month earlier. Russia’s Ag Minister also downgraded the expected size of the wheat there to 100-105 MMT.

Crude oil found support from yesterday’s report from American Petroleum Institute (API) showed crude inventories were down by 8.7 million barrels at 513.2 million in the week to May 26.


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

May 31, 2017 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 264

USDA’s Crop Progress Data Shows Weaker than Expected Corn and Soybean Ratings

Grains Higher in the Overnight

Grains were higher overnight trying to recover some of Tuesday’s steep sell-off.


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Yesterday after the market close, USDA’s crop progress data showed weaker than expected corn and soybean ratings. The US corn crop was rated as 65% good-to-excellent vs 68% expected while winter wheat ratings slipped 2% on the week to only 50% good-to-excellent. For spring wheat, the crop was rated at a sub-bar level of 62% good-to-excellent versus expectations of 71% going into the report. For planting, both corn and soy plantings were off the expected pace by only 1% with corn at 91% completed and soybeans at 67%.


Soy crushing margins in China are at 3-year lows, which is forcing some buyers to try and cancel shipments. Losses on the margin are around $43/MT. China was a heavy buyer from Brazil at the beginning of the year and lower prices following bumper harvests. But those profits have swung to the biggest losses in nearly three years after China's edible oil markets were flooded with rapeseed oil auctioned from national reserves and by growing imports of other alternative vegetable oils.


Egypt’s GASC issued a tender to buy wheat. The last Egyptian tender saw US garner some business for the first time in two years after the GASC upped their protein requirements. A South Korea feed group was also tendering for 140,000 MT of corn.


In weather, longer-term forecasts for the US in June and into July see no major threats to crop growing regions. June is expected to remain slanted towards cool temps and active moisture patterns. The only regions expected to be on the dry side are the high Plains of Western ND/Eastern MT. Some heat and dryness could materialize in the Eastern Cornbelt, but with high soil moisture values right now in much of the grain belt, meteorologists suggest that should put a downward bias in temps over the next few months.


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

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