This week a big group of the Glacier FarmMedia editorial team was in Ontario walking the aisles of Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show. Glacier, if you didn’t know, is the parent company of all us here at Grainews, Country Guide and a few other magazines you’ve more than likely heard of.
As a group, we writers and editors are spread out across the country, and we don’t always get a chance to actually see each other that often. Instead, most of us work in separate locations, and the internet links all our offices across the distances. So when we get to physically work together, it’s a bit of a novelty.
At the end of our last day covering the show, many of us gathered for supper at a restaurant in Ingersoll, a nearby town. Maybe we just had a lot to talk about, but it struck me that not one cell phone made an appearance during the entire dinner, unlike the usual events where each person tends to spend at least part of some meeting responding to the beeping noises the phones make as texts come and go.
In this age of communication, actually talking to a person—in person—has almost become a novelty.
Earlier that day, as I walked the aisles at the show, I ran into a salesman at one of the displays who, like me, could also lay claim to being from the Baby Boomer generation (the one before cellular technology took the world by storm).
Our conversation at his booth drifted from the machines to how selling them to people has changed during his long career, mostly thanks to technology. Getting the sales pitch out has undergone a significant evolution over the decades, he said. Living in the information age, it seems, has required a change in tactics when it comes to, well, communicating.
Dealing now in mostly consumer products such as subcompact utility tractors, he told me he often sells a machine almost entirely via text message and email, never actually meeting his client until he delivers the tractor to the customer’s yard.
“I’m from the generation that likes to talk to people face-to-face,” he said. “I’m used to things changing when you actually sit down across the table from someone. The formal things changes, prices and terms usually get better.”
So are those buyers who limit their engagement with others to digital contacts losing out? Are they skipping—I hate to say it—the art of the deal? Failing to stick our heads out from the digital world for long may mean we are missing out on the advantages inherent in old-fashioned human engagement.
Even if its enjoyable dinner conversation.
Today digital selling seems to be picking up speed. That is, perhaps, most visibly evident in the Carvanna organization’s intent to sell cars from giant vending machines, just the way most of us now purchase a can of Coke. A process at least some marketers think may have a greater appeal to young adults than the step-into-my-office approach of the now old-fashioned car dealership model.
With the average age of farmers in Canada now well above 50, will that mean the task of purchasing machinery in the not-too-distant future will undergo a generational change too? Will our local equipment dealerships be replaced by giant vending machines that dispense tractors and combines ordered online?
Evolving technologies will likely continue to be a factor in how farm equipment will be sold in the future. I wonder just exactly how it will happen 20 or 30 years from now.