Building customer loyalty among farmers
Whether you are a dairy processor, sell feed or provide semen, building customer loyalty is a relevant theme for you. The dairy sector is a competitive market and farmers can easily decide to go to a rival. How do you keep them on as a customer?
Building customer loyalty first of all has to do with being a good partner yourself. Do you really care? If you proof to be trustworthy and can give unique help to your customers, it’s worthwhile to stay with you. It might even motivate them to tell their neighbours to come to you as well. Here are eight tips to be a good partner.
Give advice that doesn’t benefit you directly
We’re not saying give advice that harms you. But we are telling you to go the extra mile. Did you know 80% of all problems arise in the transition period? Surely you can make some suggestions for improvements around the dry cows. Or how about taking a look at the young stock? Keeping your calves healthy is crucial in raising healthy and robust heifers for farmers to profit from later. Give them simple tips that don’t cost much money, like pushing the feed or wash & disinfect buckets before feeding colostrum. It’s even better if you can prevent farmers from making an unnecessary investment, even if it is with you.
Last week I met a couple in the train that sells and repairs white goods, Leo and Marie-Anne. They just wouldn’t sell anything if the customer didn’t really need it. They told me they had a client in their store a little while ago ready to buy a new dish washer. Leo made sure to ask what was wrong with the old machine first. After hearing their story, he was pretty sure he knew how to fix it. Still, the client insisted on buying the new machine. Leo promised to bring over the new dish washer, but asked if he could have a look at the old one first before he installed it. The client gave their OK and Leo came over the next day. As agreed upon, he started with checking the old machine and true to his promise he fixed it quickly. Afterwards, he took his clients to take a look in his van. It was completely empty, he didn’t even bring the new machine. That was how sure he was he didn’t want to sell his client something they didn’t need.
This story is an extreme example of how someone goes out of their way for their client. It surely inspired me and I’m sure the client will call Leo and Marie-Anne again next time and tell all their friends and neighbours to go there.
Put yourself in your clients shoes
Being a good partner is also really understanding each farmer as an individual. Put yourself in their shoes by asking questions and then ask some more. Find out all their needs. Being a good advisor is far more about listening than it is about talking.
Make it personal
Call them by their name, remember holidays and make sure to call or drop by every now and then.
Help them get results and show them your added value
First of all, know what your farmer is after. Is that more income, a higher milk production, more labour efficiency or more animal welfare? You can probably help them with all, but make sure to talk about the one they are interested in the most. Most importantly: make sure you can show afterwards that you have really helped. Maybe write down milk production today and compare that to the production a half year later. Or do an animal welfare check (tip: people who did a CowSignals training can use the CowSignals score card) by writing down average body condition score and locomotion score and comparing that to results later this year.
Pass on information
If you know your clients, you know what their interested in. If you have an interesting article or have seen a great example on another farm, make sure to pass that along.
We do that with our whitepapers, you can pass them on too.
Make it visual
A picture says more than a 1.000 words. A video might even say more. It’s easy to snap a picture with your phone when your at a farm. Shoot a video of a great solution, that you can share with other farmers. Or make sure to capture a problem. Showing them usually works better than just talking about it. Of course, always make sure that you have permission from the farmer to make pictures and videos and to share that with others.
Can’t find the right materials yourself? Have a look at our website or our Facebook page. There is more than enough material. More than half of the people are visual learners. Make sure to play into that.
Say wat you do, do what you say. If you promise to call at 3 pm, call them at 3 pm.
Take them to another farmer
We’ve always learned most from the best farmers in the world. You must also have one or two clients that really stand out and can teach other farmers a lot. That one farmer that you’re trying to convince to do a foot bath? Let him talk to a farmer who just installed one. There’s no one farmers like to learn from more than other farmers. Give them to opportunity!
Our Certified CowSignals master training is an intensive 4-day course focusing on both CowSignals and PeopleSignals. The CowSignals part will help you give better, more well-rounded and practical advice. The PeopleSignals part will help you build better relationships with your customers and have more impact as an advisor. We will also provide you with practical training materials that you can use to train and advice your customers.