Before I launch into this, realize one thing: California Agriculture DOES want tech. The farmers we have met with over the past 12 months, from small family farms to large corporate entities and everything in between, are excited about innovation in Agriculture. They see advancements in technology as tools to mitigate the growing risks in their business and improve their profitability.
Yes, farming is a tough business, and California producers understand their P&L’s. They know what drives their operation’s profitability. So, if you are planning to sell your technology to the local dairyman or 3rd generation family farm, think about the following 5 reasons as to why they may not buy your technology.
1) Not sure how to fund the technology
Sure your tech is cool, and does some whiz bang amazing thing. But how much is it going to cost the farm and how do they fund it? How much money will it save or make them? Where will it reduce risk?
Can you offer the technology as a service, and tie it to revenue streams? You do know when they have cash and when they are low on cash because investment capital is tied up in the field, right?
Before asking for a large check, understand the farmer’s business model. Know what problem you are solving and how it ties back to their ability to fund the technology.
2) Worried about Privacy
This is huge among the farmers we have met in California. While most farmers are willing to help one another out, there is a serious lack of trust of agencies, between growing regions and often between individual farmers.
The reason is simple. They are all vying for the same resources. Limited funds to help deploy technology. Limited water resources to grow their crops. A competitive market for well-trained employees.
If your technology can not provide them with the privacy they need to stay competitive, then you better rethink your business model.
3) Where’s the Proof?
Losing a crop because of failed technology is a sure fire way to quickly lose all credibility and potential sales. Prove that your technology works. Take the risk out of the technology and investment. Leverage the WET center in Fresno or other hubs to validate your technology. Farmers are likely to buy technology that has already been proven. Especially if their neighbors have been able to use it successfully.
4) In the midst of harvest season
Sometimes, there just is no time. Be aware of the sales cycles and when your buyers are available. Calling them in the middle of harvest season with a new widget is probably a waste of time. Instead, use the time to build relationships, not sell. Understanding the pains they face during the harvest will help you create a better product.
5) How can I Trust…
You. The product. The company. Trust is critical to building a strong business in the world of Agriculture (and most industries.) While blockchain technologies might help bridge the trust gap over time in certain areas, your technology and brand will need to find a way to build trust.
Leverage existing relationships (distributors, associations, existing clients) to help you build that trust. Make sure your technology does what you say it will do. Understand the farm you are selling to. Most importantly – show up. You are still selling to another human being. Build a personal relationship and show up for them.
We are helping farmers navigate the complicated world of water rights and have seen these reasons all play out. We have overcome each of them and we’d love to hear how you are addressing these as well.