By Jan Johnson, Millennium Research

I used to go to meetings where vendors would sell things to farmers, and if there were enough women in the room, someone would invariably complain that a new farmer questioned their knowledge or expertise, as if it was a personal insult. Or an insult to their gender.

As Dolly Parton would say: “Honey, get over yourself!”

Farmers question everybody! How well you answer their questions is a test to see if you can be trusted.

Trust, you see, is a precious thing to farmers, not given casually by someone whose livelihood and legacy depends on the quality and accuracy of your advice, recommendations, and product marketing.

Trust does not come immediately; it is built over time. Earning trust demands patience and honesty; it requires that you do your best all the time, going the extra mile when needed. Because, you know, farmers don’t have a lot of time to get things done. Most corn and soybean planting gets done in a two-week window. Instances of breaks, shortages, or delays – those create doubt.

Let me drive three hours to get you that part. That earns trust.

The product didn’t work like it was supposed to; I’ll make it right. That earns trust.

You could spend more money on this product, but that one will do the job at half the cost. That earns trust.

There’s a million ways to build trust, and unfortunately, a million ways to lose it. Quickly. In a split second. And once lost, trust is very difficult to regain. Farmers have long memories.

So, if a new potential farmer customer starts asking you questions, smile and know that he is giving you an opportunity to earn his trust and his business.

Note that I often use male pronouns, when in fact there are more women in farming than ever. Same still applies. Maybe more so.

Begin building trust now.

And let’s pray for rain, shall we?