Producer Perspectives on Agricultural Salespeople Study

Project Overview

As the agricultural marketplace becomes more and more competitive, many businesses are focused on recruiting highly motivated, effective salespeople to carry out business activities in the field with farmer customers and/or channel members. And as the Canadian farmer becomes larger and more business focused, a new set of skills, competencies, and personality traits will be required to effectively earn the business of this important segment.

The Producer Perspectives on Agricultural Salespeople study has been conducted to gain valuable insight from today’s Large Commercial Producer as to how they perceive, evaluate, and ultimately do business with the variety of salespeople calling on their operations. This information will help businesses better identify and recruit top sales talent, train and motivate salespeople, and make more effective decisions regarding their HR, sales, and marketing activities involving field staff and sales management.

Topic Outline

The Producer Perspectives on Agricultural Salespeople study takes an in-depth look at the following key topics.

  1. Attitudes and opinions regarding producer relationships with both manufacturer and retail salespeople

  2. Desired attributes, skills, and personal characteristics of highly effective salespeople

  3. General attitudes toward the role salespeople play in agricultural buying now and in the future

  4. Attitudes towards various elements of the sales process including frequency, timing, and follow-up

  5. Characteristics of highly effective sales organizations and sales management

Information has been collected and analyzed in a way that will permit an understanding of how attitudes and behavior varies by:

  1.    Type of farm operation

  2.    Size of farm operation (Crop versus Livestock)

  3.    Manufacturer versus retail sales representatives

  4.    Capital versus expendable purchases

  5.    Eastern versus Western farms

  6.    Age of producer

These relationships will allow subscribers to develop more effective, targeted strategies for specific market segments.

Benefits of Participation

There have been many changes occurring on today’s farm operations that affect company marketing programs. This research has been designed to help companies that supply agricultural businesses gain better insight into how today’s customer perceives the role of salespeople and the personal selling process. The benefits of having this information include:

  1. More effective recruiting and hiring of salespeople

  2. Providing the right type of training and skill sets to new and existing salespeople

  3. Design and manage salespeople and sales activities based on grower expectations and needs

  4. Better allocate sales resources across product lines, territories, and customer segments

  5. Build better relationships with growers by understanding their attitudes and expectations regarding
    salespeople and the sales process

  6. Allow manufacturers a better understanding of retailers’ expectations of manufacturer territory
    managers and technical salespeople

  7. Better manager dealer/retailer relationships by better understanding the role dealers play in sales
    relationships with customers and prospects

Research Methodology

The study consists of a sample of 120 farmer customers located across Canada, representing various sectors of the agricultural industry. A relatively small sample size has been chosen in an effort to focus more on quality than quantity of information. This suggests that in-depth interviews, conducted via telephone, will allow respondents to share top-of-mind responses, and allow skilled interviewers to dive deep and gain a better understanding of what today’s commercial producer is really thinking when it comes to dealing with salespeople. Despite the relatively small sample, detailed breakouts are possible with groups of 30 respondents.

In addition to the sample of 120 farmers, 30 retailers have been interviewed regarding their attitudes and perceptions towards manufacturer salespeople and technical specialists. Results from this series of in- depth interviews are included in the Premium report.

Project Team

The Producer Perspectives on Agricultural Salespeople project has been conducted by a group of agriculture industry experts with a variety of experiences working with the industry’s top sales talent.

Dr. Tom Funk
The Producer Perspectives on Agricultural Salespeople will be lead by Dr. Tom Funk of the University of Guelph. For over 40 years, Dr. Funk has taught agricultural sales and marketing at the University of Guelph to some of today’s top agribusiness leaders. In addition to his classroom experience, Dr. Funk is the founder and president of Agri Studies where he has worked with many of the industry’s top organizations through dedicated training and marketing research projects.

Justin Funk

For over 10 years Justin has been working with industry clients through the development and facilitation of sales educational programs focused on teaching agricultural salespeople how to better create and communicate value with commercial producers. Justin manages all of Agri Studies’ marketing research and strategic planning projects and currently teaches Marketing Strategy in the University of Guelph’s MBA in Agriculture. Justin is currently serving as the National Chairman for the Canadian Agri Marketing Association (CAMA).

Pete Robson

For over 35 years Pete severed as a Territory Manager with NK Syngenta Seeds and its legacy companies. Along with his territory responsibilities he was responsible for the inception and delivery of NK Syngenta Seeds channel partner training, which for many years was one of the industry’s top dealer training and development programs. Pete’s most recent position, prior to his retirement from Syngenta in 2010, was Partnership Services Manager where he was responsible for dealer training at the field level and the development and implementation of many “added value services” for Syngenta Seeds’ grower customers.

Research Investment

In order to satisfy the needs of a variety of different types of subscribers, two reports have been prepared.  The Basic report consists of the Producer Report only.  The Premium report consists of the Producer and the Retailer Report. 

Basic Report  (Producer Report Only)  $5,000 + HST

Premium Report (Producer and Retailer Report)   $7,500 + HST

Follow-up Consultation Services

Upon delivery of final research report, Agri Studies will be able to provide additional follow-up consultation on an individual subscriber basis.

How to Participate

To subscribe to this study, please contact Justin Funk of Agri Studies. Justin can be reached at 519-827-5507 or by email at