Don’t Forget the Young Customers

When it comes to kids, parents are usually not afraid to spend a little extra money to invest in their activities. Parents will spend money on sports camps, dance clinics, traveling ball leagues and personal trainers and coaches. And that is just the beginning. There are still participation fees, uniforms, equipment, lodging, travel and meals.

Showing livestock is no different – you have the initial investment of the animals, nutrition and health protocols to follow, bedding, equipment and fitting supplies not to mention entry fees and lodging, travel and meals.

But once you’ve made that initial investment in your livestock project, don’t you want to make sure it stays healthy while eating and gaining weight? That is why it is super important to focus on our younger customers – those who participate in youth livestock projects and their parents.

“I have yet to meet a parent who doesn’t want to see their kids succeed,” said Britney Creamer, ASM in Western Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. “Showing livestock is a ‘sport’ where not everyone gets a participation ribbon and parents generally go above and beyond to see their kids be successful.”

“I recommend Sure Champ® to anyone who comes in to buy show calf feed,” said Burton Nusz, store manager at West Slope Ag in Olathe, Colo. “The animals stay healthy and will stay on feed. Once the customer has tried it, the products sell themselves.”

Creamer said most conversations will start with the younger exhibitors who have seen a product promoted on social media or are aware of a promotion or giveaway. The kids will recognize the brand name, but perhaps not fully understand its function or use. That is when it is time to strike up a conversation with the parents, and the easiest way to do that is to jog their memory of that one time when…

“I always ask if they ever had an animal that went off feed or water when they got it to a show. It doesn’t matter if they showed at a county fair or all over the country, almost everyone recalls that memory, it strikes up a conversation, and then I tell them I have an insurance policy for them with added benefits,” Creamer said.

In addition to helping “insure” the show animals won’t go off feed again, Sure Champ products have many benefits including a healthy skin and hair coat and keeping animals gaining in an efficient manner. There are also complementary products in the Vita Charge® line that offer the convenience of different forms of delivery, including Vita Charge Stress Tubs that don’t have to be hand mixed with each feeding.

Creamer offers other suggestions for helping promote the Sure Champ line to customers and their kids for their summer show projects.  Creamer said the 10-pound bag of Spark is a good size to have at the counter. When a customer buys any show feed, it is great to start up a conversation about Spark and how to use it in conjunction with the show feed that is being purchased.

Another creative promotion Creamer has encouraged her dealers to try is setting a jar of red hots on the counter and having customers guess the correct number in the jar; the closest guess wins a shirt or a tube of Sure Champ Climate Control Paste.

Creamer also encourages her dealers to engage on some type of social media since the young exhibitors are so in-tune and already having conversations in that space.

Perhaps the most important tool Creamer uses is talking about the Amaferm® advantage, and how it helps the animals grow and gain. And although it varies by region and dealer, most of the products will only cost about 50 cents per animal/day – a pretty easy investment when talking about kids being successful in the show ring.

“A lot of my customers care about the rate of gain contest or carcass contest at their county fairs. I will tell them about Sure Champ and how that will help their animals put on pounds quickly no matter the show feed ration they are feeding,” Creamer said.

Customer Testimonials Reflect Passion for Products

I know what I heard is true. John Doe told Jim Smith who told Bob Black all about his latest news, and I heard it from Bob at the local coffee shop. Yes, word of mouth does spread like a wild fire, but if used properly, word of mouth and customer testimonials can be great marketing tools that share not only good information, but passion for our products.

Chris Kyle, ASM in Arkansas, Louisiana and northeast Texas, says the value in customer testimonials is that the person reviewing or talking about the specific product or experience has nothing to gain by doing so. He or she is merely bragging about something positive that has happened on the farm or ranch and wants everyone else to know about it.

“The people who are talking about our products have nothing to gain; they have achieved some sort of success in their area first, and want others to know they have that feather in their cap,” Kyle said.

Most customers are glad to give a review or testimonial. You can ask for it written, take notes as it is given orally or even use the technology that you have on hand to record a video.

“The customers don’t hold back. I ask them how a particular product is doing and they will start talking and telling me about all the good things they have happen with their animals’ health,” Kyle said.

Kyle said that customer testimonials are a great way to reach potential customers, and even though the days of chatting at the coffee shop still exist, more and more dealers and producers have started using social media as a marketing tool; a very quick way to spread customer testimonials and praises.

Another thing Kyle does is shoot a short video – typically 30-seconds – on his iPad or phone of the customer talking about the products. The visuals of their facial expressions and tones of their voices help exude the passion they have for the products they are talking about. He then shares those videos with the marketing team to post to a social media site.

One of the greatest things about social media is the reach that it has. Once a post is made, any individual or dealer can like, comment or share that message, which can be shared again. An example is a blog post that is posted to Facebook on Monday morning and by Friday, has 350 likes and 50 shares. Fifty other companies or individuals have shared that link to their own pages, making the information spread much more quickly than the hearsay at the local coffee shop!

Early marketer and promoter P.T. Barnum said, “Nothing draws a crowd quite like a crowd.”

Customers who have achieved success will be passionate about the products they are talking about. It is important to remember those success stories when you have a producer meeting or customer appreciation event. If you know of customers who have had great success with the products ask for them to share their experiences with the crowd you have gathered. Their real-world stories and experiences that their neighbors might also encounter will definitely help make a sale.

Finally, when sharing testimonials with customers, Kyle says he drops names of big-time, successful producers in the area. If he knows someone who runs 500 cows has had good results with a product, he might mention their name to someone down the road with fewer cows that is undecided about trying a BioZyme® product. He knows the first call that will be made when he leaves is to that neighbor, whose name Kyle mentioned.

Producers are passionate about the products that work for them. Use that passion through customer testimonials as one more resource in your marketing tool kit.

Invest Your Passion Into Your Business

You have likely heard the saying, “Chose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” That quote carries a lot of weight, and hopefully if you are reading this, you love your job. You might not like your job every day, but hopefully you chose this career path because you are passionate about agriculture and the people involved in our industry, and you want to help them keep their livestock healthy.

Did you know that you can invest your passion into your business? If you truly are passionate about what you do, and we know you are, you can take that passion to build your business, promote your products and build relationships with customers that will help create sales both now and in the future.

Bob Parsons, the founder of GoDaddy said, “Never stop investing. Never stop improving. Never stop doing something new.” It is vital to your business and its success, and ultimately your bottom line to follow those three simple pieces of advice. And it can start with investing your passion into your business.

How can one invest passion? One way is by showing your customers you truly care about them. Follow up your sales with customer calls to make sure the customer is completely satisfied with his or her products. Ask if there are any questions, and furthermore, have a conversation about the customer – his or her operation, family or hobbies. This will show that you are interested in their life, and not just making a dollar. Customers are more likely to do business with those who show an interest in their lives.

Another way to show your passion for your business and share that with customers is to host producer meetings or open houses. Share your passion for the business by highlighting new products in an open house or providing timely information to your customers at a producer meeting. Don’t think of the cost of the meal or refreshments as an expense, but rather an investment in your business and the people who support you.

Are there other ways you can invest your passion into your business? Perhaps you have a large show animal customer base; you can invest in those young people by hosting a feeding and fitting workshop or sponsoring an award at a local show. Offer to have the local FFA chapter have a meeting at your store so they can learn more about your products and at the same time, you will get to know more about the youth in the area.

And never underestimate sharing your passion via social media. Does your company have a website, blog, Facebook or Twitter account? You can share the passion you have for your business with the masses with just the click of a button.

What will these investments bring you? Hopefully, the enthusiasm you show to your customers, employees and others will be contagious. They will see how much you care about the brands you sell and the results that are produced. The investment in your time and energy should return dollars to you in sales. Host events that will make you money, love your job, and you will never work a day in your life.

Passion Fuels Sales

In the world of sales, you are going to hear ‘no’ more often than what you ever imagined. Potential customers can think of many excuses not to buy your products. But do you want to know how to turn that ‘no’ into a ‘yes’? Find their passion and make that your new target.

Selling is all about building relationships, and one of the best ways to build relationships with others is to find a common bond – something you and the customer are both passionate about. Once that person learns you are sincerely passionate about the same thing, the relationship is strengthened, and chances for a sale increase.

Take for instance, man’s best friend, the dog. You might be completing an order for one of your larger cow-calf producers, and you notice there are a few ranch dogs hanging around the barn. Have you ever mentioned to this customer that BioZyme® also offers a line of dog food and supplements? Learn the dogs’ names, and ask the cattle producer if he or she would be interested in getting a bag of food for the dogs. Most dog owners treat their canine companions like royalty, and if they can get their dog food from a trusted source where they also get the supplements that help keep their cattle healthy, that is a win-win.

How do you find your customers’ passion? Visit with them one-on-one! Ask questions and get to know them. Look around their farm or ranch. Did you notice a pen of horses? Do young lambs and pigs suddenly appear in the spring for their kids’ 4-H and FFA projects? And, have you looked at any of their social media outlets? Before you even call or step foot onto their place, it is always good to do a little pre-work on social media. Pictures and posts will tell you almost immediately what they are truly passionate about.

Once you find out what your customers’ passion is, take an interest in it. You might find that you share a common interest for horses. Talk about your love for horses and ask specific questions about their horses while taking notes about their responses. If you notice they have young children who are working on show lamb projects, ask about that project. Even if you don’t know anything about lambs, you will learn something new, and seem genuinely interested in the customer, and even more importantly their kids. Finding their passion beyond what they do for their livelihood, could potentially gain you a new customer or allow you to offer more of your product lineup to your current customer base.

Targeted Producer Meetings Offer Unique Approach

Livestock producers get a lot of postcards and invitations to producer meetings, sales meetings and educational meetings through the winter months. It seems like there is always something on their calendars, and sometimes they can’t make every meeting they would like to. As dealers, we need a fresh approach to reach these customers and potential customers where we can leverage our time while gathering an audience, but still take time to have one-on-one conversations that are key to relationship building.

Salem Veterinary Service in South Dakota recently tried a different tactic to reach its customers through smaller, more targeted producer meetings. Guy Rusche, ASM, said the lunch-time meetings were more conversational where he could talk about products with a handful of producers with similar needs over a sandwich and answer their questions, much like he might if he was visiting with them at their own kitchen table.

“The producers were all like-minded so I could fine-tune my presentation, which wasn’t a PowerPoint, but more like a one-on-one producer encounter with several people with similar needs at the same time and place,” Rusche said.

Salem Veterinary Service planned the meetings for Mondays throughout February, and customized the invitation list of its clients by those with similar needs and decision making processes. Because the dealer has established a good rapport with its producers, all invitations came directly from the dealer, and Rusche said 6-12 producers attended each of the four meetings. Topics of the meetings included VitaFerm® Concept•Aid® and looking more in-depth to the advantages of Amaferm®.

“Because the group was smaller, they felt more comfortable asking questions that they might not have asked in a larger producer meeting. I spent time answering those in-depth, technical questions without sounding like I was giving a college lecture,” Rusche said.

Rusche said Salem Vet doesn’t have much space for inventory, but at least one producer from every meeting stopped by the vet clinic to order or purchase product following the meetings, and after one meeting, seven of the nine attendees purchased product, a sure sign of success for the dealer.

Although these small targeted meetings worked well for this dealer and its clients prior to calving, Rusche said they will continue to host a more traditional producer meeting in the fall to discuss other products. The smaller, targeted meetings are just one more way to share the BioZyme® message with a group of current and potential customers.

Proper Employee Training Leads to Increased Sales

There are a lot of animal nutrition products out there, and in some parts of the country, more feed and supplement dealers than there are grocery stores. This means it is vital for your sales staff to keep current on all the products you offer.

“People buy from people, and our company owners have done a great job hiring quality people that care about the products and our customers all the way from the sales staff to the delivery drivers,” said Scott Hardman, Marketing Specialist with Earlybird Feed & Fertilizer, Goodfield, Illinois.

Hardman says the literature that BioZyme® sends out when a new product is introduced is distributed to all sales people, both externally and in the store. He said that they usually can’t get the literature fast enough since customers see information about new products on social media, and start contacting the dealer often before they have the new products on hand.

Another great resource is their ASM, Shandy Bertolino. Hardman said that their sales staff typically meets with Shandy twice a year to learn about new products and brush up on their knowledge of existing products. In addition to offering kudos to the ASM in their area, Hardman also praised the entire BioZyme® staff.

“One of the strengths of the company is there are not a lot of layers if we need answers. Shandy will make the link, but the accessibility of the technical and marketing staff is great,” Hardman said.

And finally, he said the sales staff who attend the dealer retreat each summer come back with a wealth of information to share with others who didn’t attend.

Adele Halsall, a researcher and writer for Customer Service Guru, addressed some key training tips in a recent blog post. Here are three of her tips.

  1. Keep Training Consistent. Be sure to give each employee the same message and resources so the information shared with customers is reliable. Halsall said, “Product knowledge training must also be consistent, engaging and customized. There is no point in re-using the same material twice or giving unnecessary information to those who do not need it.”
  2. Allow Hands-on Experience. While it isn’t realistic that your entire sales force will have a need for a particular product, chances are someone on staff feeds one or more of the products. Get their feedback about the pros and cons of that particular product so you can offer more information to prospective customers.

    Hardman said their sales staff isn’t expected to know absolutely everything about every product; however, they have specific people that are experts about particular species. Earlybird relies on those experts to provide information about particular products to the rest of its sales force.

  3. Take Training out of the Office. Hardman mentioned the bi-annual meetings with Shandy and the dealer retreat were two of their valuable training tools. Halsall agrees that it is always good to give employees a fresh perspective and allow them the opportunity to network with others to learn helpful sales insight.

Making the sale is imperative to your bottom line. Keep your staff knowledgeable and excited about your products, and the sales will come readily.

How to Use Promos Effectively

Everyone is looking for a deal, but does that mean you need to offer regular “deals” or promotions on your BioZyme® products? No, there is a definite time and place to use promotions, and having a regular sale isn’t always the best way to make a sale.

The value of BioZyme products is that they are high quality products that do exactly what they say they do. The products keep your animals healthy, and healthy animals grow faster and more efficiently. If a potential customer is skeptical, share the research or other customer testimonials with them. Chances are, you are going to gain a new customer who becomes a repeat customer.

But, your competitors down the road offer regular sales on their supplement products, and your lack of a “good deal” is the topic of conversation at the local coffee shop. Here are few ways to offer smart promotions, should you feel the need to do so.

Offer a short-term discount on something everyone can use. Most of your customers have a dog, so offer a discount on dog food with the purchase of a certain amount of VitaFerm® or Vitalize® mineral. This gives them the opportunity to try something new they might not have even known BioZyme offers, and makes you look like the good guy for offering a promotion.

Don’t offer a discount on in-season products. Did you order too much VitaFerm® HEAT™ mineral and you are approaching the cooler months? That would be a good time to discount that inventory to get it out of the warehouse, and perhaps customers will want to order more at regular price next summer.

Remember to advertise a “limited time promotion.” If you don’t, your customer might actually like the dog the food they bought last time with their supplement order, and will want you to honor that same price again. Remind the customer that it was a one-time promotion, but you are glad he/she liked the product, and will be glad to sell it to him/her at regular price.

Add value in other ways. Host a producer meeting to share the latest industry information. Invite your customers to a special VIP open house with refreshments and door prizes after store hours. Offer delivery. There are many ways of adding value to your products that won’t hurt your profit potential.

If conducted properly, promotions can be a good marketing tool. But plan them when they will help you, the dealer, boost sales, and use them wisely.

An Investment in Nutrition Prevents Common Animal Disease

In a region of the United States where Anaplasmosis is a cause for concern in the cow herd, Bob Black doesn’t worry about his herd catching the infective blood disease that can decrease performance, cause weight loss, abortion and ultimately death loss. The fifth-generation cattle producer focuses on managing his herd’s immune system function and investing in a sound nutrition program. And in addition to ranching with his brother, he owns Elk County Veterinary Services at Howard, Kan., and has been a BioZyme® dealer for nearly 18 years.

The Blacks run a cow-calf operation in southeast Kansas where they concentrate on raising cattle with a high carcass quality to provide the consumer a safe and favorable eating experience. The brothers wean nearly 300 calves each year, and Dr. Black says he can’t remember treating any animals for Anaplasmosis since they have been feeding VitaFerm® products.

“We’ve been feeding VitaFerm for at least 25 years, and whatever we invest in pays off in the end,” says Dr. Black. “Amaferm does a great job of breaking down the forages, and the organic minerals keep the cattle’s immunity up.”

The cow herd on the Black’s operation eats a forage-based diet with minimal supplementation. However, the VitaFerm products they do feed offer maximum nutrition in key trace minerals of copper, zinc, selenium and magnesium.
In addition, Amaferm is a great resource to help break down the forages and convert them to energy.

Dr. Black has used LONGRANGE® to control parasites such as ticks that spread Anaplasmosis for the past three years. In addition, he manages their body condition score to keep cows between 5-6 BCS, with a goal of 90% conception rate. He says if the cows get too much condition, they lie around and don’t graze, and therefore are not as healthy.

“It all comes down to proper management and animal husbandry” Dr. Black said.

Although he has chosen to ward off Anaplasmosis by proactive management techniques, he does sell CTC to some customers. Dr. Black’s goal is to use his personal successes to demonstrate the Amaferm advantage to sell more BioZyme products.

“The uptick in the market the last few years has helped, but getting our foot in the door is the big challenge,” he said. “Once a client switches over, and they see the Amaferm advantage in their cows, they are usually hooked. We are seeing good conversion.”

Keep Records Now, Save on Fines Later

You invest a lot of time and energy helping your customers develop nutrition programs that help them put more dollars in their pockets. But, with the introduction of the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), now is the time to make sure your records are in order so if you are audited, your checkbook doesn’t take a hit with heavy fines in the future. Have you filed with the FDA? Do you have a person in your dealership to track the directives? And did you know software programs exist to help you track sales of medicated feeds?

All distributors of VFD feed must notify the FDA prior to selling any feed or supplements. Any changes of feed dealership name, ownership or address must be submitted to the FDA within 30 days of the change.

Thsidebare only way you can sell VFD feed or supplements is with a complete written order from a veterinarian, similar to a doctor’s prescription. Once the order is filled, you must retain the directive and proof of sale/distribution. All records must be kept for two years, and be readily available to the FDA if requested for inspection/audit. The BioZyme® staff has created a sample form to make sure that you have a complete directive, and everything is in order before you sell any medicated feed. Visit the Online Dealer Center at www.biozymedealer.com and click on “Regulatory Center” to download the sample forms.

A simple Google search will result in several software and online options for feed distributors to use to track records when selling VFD feed and supplements. You can also create your own document in Excel to track sales and record the directives. However, according to Kevin Glaubius, Director of Nutrition and Technical Sales for BioZyme, an actual paper trail needs to exist, and dealers will need to have hard copies of directives on file, not just electronic versions.

Remember, staying on top of your record keeping now, can save you time, headaches and dollars in fines in the future. A proactive approach to good record management will hopefully prevent a check-writing reaction in the future.

A Coordinated Effort Will Help the VFD Transition

It’s pretty likely a majority of your customers have heard of the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) that went into effect January 1. If a livestock producer has read an industry publication, attended any type of producer meeting or even picked up some literature at his or her local farm store, he or she knows that the VFD is here. But, do the producers understand what VFD means and how to coordinate efforts with their veterinarian and feed dealer for a smooth transition?

“Bring up the VFD in conversation, and encourage producers to have an established relationship with their veterinarians,” says Kevin Glaubius, Director of Nutrition and Technical Sales with BioZyme®. Even though the VFD has been talked about during the past year, it is imperative to have a well-established Veterinary Client Patient Relationship (VCPR) before your animals get sick.

“There have been a lot of changes in a short period of time,” Glaubius says. “Don’t wait until a health outbreak occurs in your herd to establish a relationship with a veterinarian.”

In addition to encouraging producers to create a working relationship with a veterinarian, Glaubius suggests educating producers about the importance of proper nutrition.

“Proper nutrition can help animals through times of stress to prevent sickness,” Glaubius says, adding that supplementing with the Vita Charge® Drench on arrival and a Vita Charge Stress Tub in the pen along with good nutrition in the bunk is a preventative measure against sickness during the weaning period that leads to improved animal performance as well.

Once the VCPR is established, the vet will write the directive, which the producer will bring to the feed dealer. Although the directive can be faxed or submitted electronically to the feed dealer, he/she must store a hard copy for two years.

Finally, the dealers need to make sure all forms are filled out properly before selling the medicated feed or supplement. Once paperwork is in order, the sales transaction can be completed.

“Be patient. Be proactive. Make phone calls. Work with your veterinarian as much as possible,”Glaubius suggests. He reminds all dealers and producers there will be a learning curve in the first few months of 2017, as the VFD regulations are new to everyone.

You can find a full list of frequently asked questions and example VFD forms in the Regulatory Section of the Online Dealer Center at www.biozymedealer.com. In addition, any dealer or producer with specific questions should contact Dennis Delaney, Director of Inside Sales, at 816-344-5748 with questions.