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New CRM solution advances agribusiness management capabilities

Bushel CRM integrates customers’ agronomy, accounting and grain contracting data on a single program, facilitating cross-team collaboration.

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The hottest three letters in agribusiness today are CRM – customer relationship management, according to Colette Bersie, Bushel product manager, while unveiling Bushel’s new CRM tool at the Bushel Buddy Seat Conference in Fargo, North Dakota.

Bersie said Bushel customer feedback uncovered a pressing need for an efficient CRM system tailored for agribusinesses.

“Over the last six to 12 months, we’ve heard repeatedly from our clients about their need for better ways to collaborate internally and view the same customer data,” Bersie said. “One told us, ‘I operate on multiple accounting systems, so even if we’re in the same office, my sales agronomist logs information in one enterprise resource planning (ERP) software while I’m creating a contract in another ERP. We need a more holistic approach to serve our customers better.’”

In May 2024, the company announced the addition of CRM capabilities to its integrated workflow solution that aim to streamline and enhance data management while enabling complete customer transparency across multiple locations and accounting systems. These capabilities help overcome many challenges faced by agribusinesses. Presently in beta testing with select partners, Bushel CRM is on track for official release by the end of summer 2024.

The CRM integrates directly with 15 different ERP software programs, significantly reducing the need for manual data entry. Integration with the agribusiness’sErp Partners Page existing ERP instantly synchronizes data to help manage workflows from ag retail sales through the grain contracting process.

Bersie demonstrated the CRM's customer view for agribusiness users that displays a complete overview of all relevant customer data, including delivery destinations tracking and invoice locations, as well as customer and team notes — a historical log of customer interactions like conversations, preferences or concerns. This feature allows for personalized and informed communication across grain and ag retail teams to enhance cross-collaboration and proactive problem resolution of documented issues. 

Prospective customers may also be added to the CRM. If the prospect is later entered into the ERP as a customer account, the new customer's data will automatically synchronize with the CRM. Meanwhile, a customer portal offers self-service account access for customers across retail and grain, and both the CRM customer portal and user interface are mobile-supported from day one, so vital information can be accessed and edited remotely.

Looking ahead, Bushel plans to expand the CRM’s capabilities. Bersie said Bushel is developing the incorporation of grain contract maintenance into the CRM to track whether a contract is signed or unsigned, delivered or undelivered and paid or unpaid.

“We’re going down the path to take action on a contract right within CRM, along with the ability to generate a quote or send a push notification that an invoice is 60 days outstanding,” Bersie said. “Those types of actions are coming next for CRM.”

Expanding on its current integration capabilities with OEM equipment apps, Bushel plans to allow farmers to give the CRM permission to automatically log their machine activity as recent activity in Bushel's customer view, providing valuable insights for agronomy teams. 

User experience

Prairie Grain Partners, a co-op with operations across Minnesota and South Dakota, is part of Bushel’s beta testing program for its CRM. Zach Jans, grain manager at Prairie Grain Partners, shared the Bushel Buddy Seat Conference stage with Bersie to describe the importance of a CRM solution built for agribusinesses.

“At my previous employer, we went down the road to integrate customer relations, and the biggest struggle [with that CRM] was not understanding that there are people all over the country we do business with and figuring out how to transfer all the data into one place,” Jans said. “Agriculture has data to the Nth degree. The challenge is how to utilize it effectively, so we can understand customer needs better and make it a powerful tool for growth.”

Jans also stressed the necessity of user-friendliness in a CRM for it to be effective.

“Nobody wants to enter information multiple times in different places,” he said. “The ease of transitioning data into one space where all relevant details are visible is crucial. The development of this CRM is addressing those needs and is extremely effective in utilizing data to improve our producer customer experience.”

Ultimately, Jans said Bushel’s CRM assists agribusinesses by simplifying operations management with a truly integrated, efficient and user-friendly approach.

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