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January 23, 2019 | Coach’s Corner |

Quit These 7 Behaviors to Sell More

Sometimes when selling, you have to quit doing things in order to improve

We’re told from an early age to not give up on our goals. Don’t quit … when the going gets tough, the tough get going … winners never quit and quitters never win.

I have to admit, I have preached and I believe in those ideas myself.

Sometimes in life and in selling, however, you have to quit doing things in order to improve.

Let’s spend a few minutes on some of those things you need to quit doing in order to connect better with your customers and sell more.

1. Quit- Talking What? We are salespeople. That’s what we do. Customers let us on their farm or into their agribusiness and let us talk about our products. Isn’t that why we go there? Not really. We’re there to solve their problems, which can only be uncovered when they are talking. Take the next four sales calls and roughly estimate how much time during the call you are talking versus your customer talking. You don’t need to pull out a stopwatch (although you might if you are totally oblivious to how much you talk). Just take a rough guess as to who talks more. If it’s you, stop it. Pre-call plan better questions. Get more interested in your customer so you can get them talking about their favorite topic- themselves! You learn more about your customer when they are talking.

2. Quit- Telling customers about you and your products This goes hand in hand with #1 from above. Customers don’t want to know nor do they care about your products. They want to know how your product solves their unique problem. Focus on their problem, their need, their goals and aspirations and you will connect with them. This connection will allow you to fit your products to that need.

3. Quit- Using “I” to understand this better, I intentionally wrote two different styles above. Go up and reread the second paragraph. It’s a one sentence paragraph that includes the word “I” three times and one “myself”. Then reread the third paragraph, which focuses on “you”. Which feels better, which is more interesting and compels you want to hear more? If it’s the “I” sentence, please let me know and we’ll connect, because I can talk about myself all day long. However, my guess is the “you” paragraph is more intriguing and interesting to you. Just like your customers. When communicating with your customers, read your written words and listen to yourself. Be aware of how many times you are talking about yourself versus your customer.

4. Quit- Exaggerating We do it. We don’t want to do it, but we do it. We tell our customers things that aren’t completely true or proven. Another term for this might be called lying. Maybe we could soften it and call it campaign promises. You go in to sell an account and the conversation is going great. Then your prospect has a request or a need, which your product doesn’t exactly do or solve. Here’s the moment of truth! You’ve been calling on this prospect for months or years, you’ve met several times and now you are at the end of a lengthy sales call. You’ve asked your closing question and your prospect has one last concern, requirement or hurdle for you to jump over. But your product doesn’t completely solve that problem. Do you get brutally honest with your prospect or do you exaggerate? I don’t have to tell you what to do. You know the answer.

5. Quit- Using worn out phrases The next three things to quit doing are very similar. Your farmers and agribusiness buyers are being called on by an army of salespeople. They hear the same thing over and over and over again. ROI…increased yield…precision ag…. sustainability… Look through your writing, presentation slides, and listen to the words and phrases you use. Take those old worn out phrases and run them through an online thesaurus. Convert your percentages and your technical results into terms your customers use…acres…bushels per acre…finished animals… If your product gives a 10% return and your customer has 10 hog buildings, then explain that your product gives them an 11th building. Instead of 2 BPA, explain that on a 1500-acre farm, your product gives them 3,000 bushels or an extra 20 acres of corn (70 acres of beans). It’s saying the same thing but it’s an easier visual impression on a customer.

6. Quit- Doing what everyone else does Ask yourself, what do all of my competitors do? What is the typical routine or pattern they follow? What are the typical seasonal patterns that everyone follows? After you answer those questions, then ask how can you do it differently or at a different time? If you want to stand out and differentiate, by definition, you have to do something different. In a world of salespeople trying to be the greatest agronomist or animal nutritionist, can you make customer service, delivery, responsiveness, or reliability your differentiator? You still have to be good at agronomy and nutrition, but being the best and easiest company to buy from might be a great way to differentiate. When competition is heavy, look for those ways to approach the market in a new way. One way to find out how is to ask your customers and then listen.

7. Quit- Going where everyone else goes similar to the last point except, I want you to now think about completely new places and new markets to go after. Niche markets might be an option. Is everyone chasing the high-volume low margin business? On a dairy operation, everyone chases the high-volume lactation feed and typically ignores the calf, heifer, and preservative opportunities. Meeting a dairy customer and starting your sales approach on his lactation ration will put you in the same bucket with everyone else that showed up that day. Guess how the dairyman differentiates you. Of course, with price.

As you venture out today into the agribusiness world to sell, take a few minutes to review these seven behaviors. Which are you doing? How can you minimize or quit doing them? How can you plan or prepare better so you don’t continue doing them?        

Good luck and enjoy the many benefits of being more effective in your selling!

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