6 Tips on How to Sell Technology to Farmers
Alpha-Brown, a market research company focusing on Ag-Tech, has been in close contact with farmers in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. Over the past year more than 8,000 farmers participated in surveys on various technology topics such as robotics, IoT, farm management systems, organic and bio-pesticides and more. This big database enabled us to provide broad and deep insights on a wide range of sectors.
Our main impression is that farmers are eager to implement technological solutions as means to cope with the need to become more efficient, and this is an excellent start for the industry.
We encounter technology companies that offer high-end products and services; some have even tried their products on several farmers, whose reactions were mainly highly positive. However, when companies try to sell their products to farmers on a large scale, they discover that the task is complex.
Below are some helpful tips that may assist technology companies in improving their chances of producing a suitable product and marketing it effectively:
Initiate marketing efforts before sales - More than 70% of farmers are familiar with the newest technological solutions, however not to the extent which enables them to buy the tech product or service. Tech companies attempting to sell their products on a large scale to farmers should focus first on marketing and education efforts spreading the message, rather than relying on direct sales methods similar to sales methods applied when selling the agriculture gear the farmer is used to. Sadly, this is not great news for small AgTech suppliers. However, this is the current market situation
One improvement at a time - Farmers are not deterred by technology, since the farms are full of technological tools. Yet, our research indicates that, for example, when we examined the agricultural drones market, more than a third of farmers were interested in this particular solution mostly for uncompleted tasks, such as overall farm, fence and animal aerial monitoring. Once using drones becomes more common practice, it will be possible to implement more advanced tasks, such as soil monitoring and aerial pest detection.
Price Adjustment - Our research found that most of U.S. farmers, (about 80%) invest less than $5,000 on technology per year. This means that the competition for this small budget is large, and therefore, it is necessary to adapt the product for the appropriate target group in terms of farm size and types of farming operation. For example, in the United States there are more than 900,000 farms that grow cattle, yet the majority of them (70%) are small farms - up to 50 acres. Reversely, there are less than 10,000 cattle farms with more than 1000 acres. This market situation needs to be addressed when developing a technological product designed for the livestock sector.
Design products for private individuals rather than for a Commercial Companies - Even in developed countries, such as the United States, farmers mainly use traditional methods to manage their farm operations. For example, our study shows that most of them use regular pen&paper or at most Excel spreadsheets for farm management missions. This is not surprising, considering that 90% of farms in the U.S. are privately owned by individuals and/or families. Therefore, in the realm of Ag-Tech, marketing and sale process for farmers should be similar to the marketing processes for families buying technological products for domestic uses.
Products that Ensure a Better Agricultural Quality - In today's competitive agricultural market, farmers are willing to consider products that do not necessarily reduce costs, if the products ensure higher quality. When we examined, what would lead farmers to use organic and biological pesticides, about 60% of farmers indicated that their main considerations are the quality of the product and health concerns for their customers, despite the fact that they are aware that in most cases organic and biological pesticides are costlier than chemical ones. In other words, companies that sell technological products for agriculture that are not designed for cost reduction must make sure that farmers understand the value in terms of the quality and visibility of the products they grow.
Proven Efficiency - In relation to the previous section, products designed for efficient farm operations such as management systems, IoT and others, must be convincing in their ability to save costs to farmers. In this sense, robotic systems are perceived as helping to reduce costs and not necessarily to improve product quality.
Therefore, it is necessary to prove to farmers that the technological products can reduce their labor costs if they purchase such systems. We were surprised to learn that farmers are willing to consider entrusting their harvest to robots, if they can make sure that these efforts will lead to a significant reduction of manpower during harvesting.
We are hoping that this list would assist tech companies in the agricultural market. We will be happy to answer any specific questions of agricultural technology implementation process.