July 23, 2021

Business to Farmer: Factors Affecting Farmer Buying Decisions

B2B purchases are needs-based, not wants-based. However, B2B buyers are still people, and they can make decisions based on what some might consider to be irrational factors. While B2C consumers often make purchases that may be seen as frivolous and driven by emotions, they aren’t the only ones. 

In B2B, decision-makers are accountable – to other stakeholders, to their bottom line – so they make decisions based on the needs of their business goals. But their motivations may be entirely emotional.  As we know, farmers make large buying decisions based on information about the return on investment, yield or quality improvements, or increased efficiency. However, those decisions are influenced by a myriad of other factors.

Farms, Farmers, & Farming

There is a distinct difference between the farmer, the farm, and farming systems. 

As with the average B2B buyer, the Business to Farmer (B2F) buyer is at once making rational decisions to drive their desired business goals, while being influenced by human factors like emotions, desires, and values. 

When we define a farmer persona based on farm size or location, we fail to recognize that these factors are rarely at the heart of purchase decisions. The size of a farm is a physical factor representing the scale of the opportunity, which is probably why many business goals are tied to acreage. More acres equals more product purchased, after all. 

Farming systems, too, can be an influencing factor in purchasing decisions. As diverse as the lands and crops farmed, farming systems are diverse. The act of farming is unique from farm to farm, even where other factors may seem identical on the surface. 

So, what are these factors influencing farmers’ decision making processes? Here are just a few: 

Farms have complex decision-making units

In many cases, the responsibility for decision making is shared across multiple individuals – married partners, children, farm managers, agronomists, and more. It is often useful to understand and aim to reach more than just one main farmer persona.

Farmers are long-term buyers 

They make large capital purchases on equipment and infrastructure they will use for years, and repeated, regular purchases of consumables. After-sales service and support will be as important as every move you make to attract them as a customer, as will continuously evaluating your offerings against the changing needs of your most loyal customers. 

Personal relationships are paramount

The relatively small number of potential customers in agriculture means that, at the sales level, one-to-one service is still common – and expected. High trust levels are built over years, with sales reps who often live and work in the same communities as their customers. 

However, as we move more towards digital interactions, it may become important to define which personas continue to demand personal, premium service, and which personas will be more comfortable with digital interactions. This doesn’t need to come at the expense of good customer service, but the format may change from a personal phone call to a chatbot function on your website. 

Farmers are more digitally savvy than we give them credit for

While most farmers continue to turn to traditional channels for information, they are absolutely online and plugged into the latest advances in technology. A recent study from the Connectiv Ag Media Council found that 43% of farmers use social media to stay up to date on trends. 

Up to date, however, doesn’t mean they are early adopters. It is especially important for agtech brands to be able to show proven performance of their product or service in real-world usage. No farmer is interested in being a test subject for unproven tech – unless they specifically sign up for that role. 

Farmers are under pressure

Balancing the viability of a farm business against environmental sustainability is a daunting task. Increased pressure, from consumers, legislators, and others, is bound to have an influence on the ways in which farmers make decisions for their farms. And as more farmers adopt more sustainable practices, there may also be a certain level of peer influence to consider. 

Want to discover the factors that influence your farm customers? Our Business Intelligence team is standing by to help.