Make the Ask: Planning Producer Meetings

The crisp fall air is upon us; harvest in most parts of the country is in full swing, fall calving is under control, and there is a short break in stock shows. It is a great time for BioZyme® dealers to start planning and preparing for producer meetings.

Ask – Invite producers

First, as a dealer, you need to set a date, time and location for your meeting. Make sure it is on a day that doesn’t conflict with something else in the area that would diminish attendance, such as a sale or the state football playoffs that your local team is in for the first time in decades. Send out invitations so the producers get them a week or two in advance. And if possible, follow up that invitation with a phone call the day before the meeting.

“It is super important to call everybody you invited, even if you sent them a postcard,” says Dorothy Orts, North Dakota Area Sales Manager. “You won’t have a successful turnout if you don’t call and ask them to the meeting.”

Once you have a date set, be creative in picking a location away from your store. It makes them feel appreciated to see you meeting with them outside of the normal place they do business with you. Orts, and her counterpart in Oklahoma, John Jeffrey, agree that the meeting should be held at a restaurant or a small community building and in conjunction with a meal. Jeffrey says if the food is good, people will show up. And Orts has learned by experience to keep the room small for a more comfortable setting where everyone can hear. She says if the room is too big, the acoustics might suffer, and if producers can’t hear, they are not going to pay attention.

Ask – Encourage interaction

Orts likes to make the meetings interactive and asks questions of the producers to get them involved and relaxed. She then asks for any current customers to provide a testimonial about the BioZyme products, saying that most producers will share their passion at the spontaneous response. And she also makes sure everyone knows about the Amaferm® advantage.

Allow sufficient time for discussion after the meeting, as most speakers will stay to visit with producers. Both Orts and Jeffrey say what happens after the meeting is often just as important as what happens during. Jeffrey described a recent noon-meal meeting where just a handful of producers showed up. Jeffrey and the dealer sat down with them in a more conversational manner

and people stayed for nearly three hours to learn about the products and share ideas.

Ask – Collaborate with others

It is a great idea to plan a meeting with other groups or businesses with similar goals. Jeffrey says he has piggy-backed with local cattlemen groups or pharmaceutical companies to share costs. When working with a drug company, he says they showed research that mineral usage increases the effectiveness of vaccinations – sharing both messages at once. And with the new Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), it is timely to coordinate meetings with pharmaceutical companies.

Ask – Follow up

“You just have to ask,” Jeffery says. “You can’t sell something to people if you don’t ask them to buy it.” Jeffrey says when coordinating meetings with dealers, he likes to run a short special for those in attendance, which also encourages the producers to visit the store or place an order within the first week after the meeting.

Orts likes to send each meeting attendee home with a sample of Vita Charge® Liquid Boost® because it will likely save one life and help gain customers. Both area sales managers say to follow up and call those who attended.

“No two meetings are ever the same,” Jeffrey says. “Just be sure to ask for the sale. You never know if you will get a new customer that day or two weeks from now.”

Added Value Should Mean Added Profitablity

Having multiple product lines may allow a growing business to diversify risk and capitalize on its established reputation. Multiple product lines can also strengthen competition in its industry, while at the same time enhancing the company’s checkbook.

Certainly after reading that statement, everyone is interested in expanding their products or product line(s). However, while it may be beneficial to expand a product line or bring in a new product within a line, those benefits do not come without considerable work before the sales start rolling in.  Please note, any one of these 17 steps could cause the ones before it to be reevaluated making the process at times overwhelming.

  1. First, get an idea of what to expand.
  2. Determine the specific needs of customers in that market segment.
  3. Identify the product features that would be most attractive to them.
  4. Assess the market size and the competition.
  5. Create/formulate the product based on science and market research results.
  6. Get team buy-in.
  7. Figure out the best distribution channels to achieve the highest market penetration.
  8. Determine the price to make sure it will be competitive and profitable. (note: many times this step forces you to go back to step 5 or before)
  9. Test the product to determine its effectiveness.
  10. Create a unique value proposition.
  11. Decide how you’ll position the product in the market segment you’ve identified using that proposition.
  12. Make sure that doesn’t conflict with any other products, product lines or brands in your portfolio.
  13. Create the name and “look” to support the positioning.
  14. Create the marketing materials.
  15. Plan the initial launch.
  16. Strategize the actual marketing plan to support it after its launch
  17. Execute, execute, execute and PRAY. Pray the product is positioned and priced correctly, works correctly and sells in the time you predicted.

Of course you are not interested in doing this entire list, so how can making the decision of adding a new product or product line be made in a more simplistic approach? Consider the following:

1. Evaluate the product itself

  • Has the product been thoroughly tested?
  • Did the product deliver consistent results?

2. Identify and evaluate the target market

  • What are the ideal customer’s characteristics?
  • Is there a market for the product?
  • Is there enough of a market to support the product?
  • Does the market available to you have a place for the product?

3. Evaluate the competition

  • Who are the top market competitors?
  • How are their products the same or different?
  • What are their marketing techniques?

4. Consider the product from your customers’ viewpoint

  • What service or product do they choose currently?
  • What are the key differences that would compel customers to select your product over another company’s?

5. Evaluate launch readiness

  • If the launch is successful (and let’s face it – the reason you’re launching a new product is because you want it to be successful) can your company facilitate the increased demand?
  • Do you have resources for handling customer education, inquiries and needs?

In the end, if you do your homework and move forward with an analytical eye, your product or line extension will increase sales, help you reach new markets and build market share overall for your growing business. Go be a “rocket” star!

Tools to Target the Right Customers

Every successful partnership requires each partner to give 100% effort. That includes the new exclusive partnership that Superior Livestock and BioZyme® have entered to market VitaFerm® Raised and Gain Smart calves through Superior.

The newly formed alliance targeted to stocker and feeding operations requires that either VitaFerm or Gain Smart be fed 45 days prior to marketing calves on Superior AND through delivery of those calves. Since nutrition is a key factor to herd health, gain and stress relief, this is win-win for all partners in the endeavor – the cattle feeder, BioZyme and Superior.

“This is a big win for our dealers when it comes to marketing the new Gain Smart product,” says Alan Lee, BioZyme Director of Sales. “But it is a more important win for the producers, who should see the value of feeding our product twice. First, they will see increased gain and faster growing calves, and again when they market their calves through Superior, they should see the premiums as being part of this new value-added program.”

Promoting the value of a nutrition program and the Amaferm® advantage, is already a great marketing tool, especially when customers see the financial benefits penciled out. Your customers need to sell those calves, and if they aren’t already Superior customers, the value-added partnership is another great arsenal to add to your marketing plan. Superior is the leader in marketing cattle, and chances are your bigger producers already use Superior.   

One way that Lee suggests dealers can discover larger producers in their sales area is to watch the Superior Livestock sales or read their catalog online, to see who already sells their cattle via Superior.  Another benefit of this simple research might be discovering a new customer who doesn’t feed BioZyme products but sells on Superior.

“Every dealer I’ve suggested this to who embraced this, has picked up at least one new, big customer in the last two weeks,” Lee says. And he adds, if an alliance or group of producers is selling cattle, the BioZyme dealer can potentially add several more customers.

Reaching out to your area Superior Livestock rep is another way to build a customer base. Superior has nearly 400 representatives across the United States who work on commission of selling actual load lots of cattle. They are another great source when promoting the BioZyme programs. Superior reps and their telephone numbers can be found online at www.superiorlivestock.com.

“Through a collaborative effort between the BioZyme dealers and Superior reps, we want this to be a long-term partnership,” says Jason Barber, manager of Superior’s purebred division. “We want the dealers and sales staff to reach out to reps and consignors to network while educating the consignors about the importance of a great mineral program.”

Lee says the dealers need to be proactive in approaching larger customers, and the new Gain Smart program provides dealers with the great information to approach larger feeders and stockers with. “Gain Smart provides greater performance, increasing gains from one-quarter to one-third of a pound per day. So, not only will they see added gains, they will receive premiums when selling through this value-added program.”

October 2016 – Letters from Lisa

Just like a trapeze artist must take a risk when letting go of one swinging bar to catch the next, growing your business year after year involves risk. This month I want to focus on the trust involved in taking those risks – much like that trapeze artist trusts that the next bar will appear just as he lets go of the one he is already clinging to in mid-air. Some risks are easy to execute but take a decent sized bank account while others are hard to execute but don’t take much money at all. I am going to rattle off a list of these options, and then you can decide which one to choose so you don’t need the net.

1. Carve out a new corner of your market
Expanding into new markets provides the advantage of building a larger customer base.

2. Partner with other businesses who are growing in your market
By forming strategic partnerships with other growing businesses that offer complementary products and services, you can cultivate a mutually beneficial relationship that will help both of your businesses grow.

3. Diversify your product offerings
A diversification strategy opens up new possibilities. You can diversify your product offering or your target markets. Think about the things that go along with the items you sell: boots, apparel, shavings and nutrition services for example.

4. Leverage a strong position with your existing core customers
The ability to leverage your existing customer base should be core to better engagement with new prospects and how you funnel them through the sales process more quickly. Don’t take them for granted—your existing customer base can be the key to advancing both marketing and sales activities that lead to significant growth.

5. Acquire or merge with other businesses in your market
Perhaps the most aggressive growth strategy is to buy a company that makes products related to yours. We’ve seen that a lot lately with tech companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon that continue to acquire smaller businesses. If you cannot acquire another business perhaps you can arrange to merge with it.

Choosing the best option for your business is hard work that involves risk. It is no different than the trapeze artists high above the crowd gracefully letting go of their swinging bar flying through the air being caught and then letting go again.

Author Henri Nouwen once had the opportunity to travel with the Flying Rodleighs, a troupe of trapeze artists. Their conversation inevitably turned to flying and how they could possibly do what they did. Nouwen summarizes risk: ͞

A flyer must fly, and a catcher must catch, and the flyer must trust that his catcher will be there for him.

So outstretch your arms; let go, and trust the option you select to grow your business.

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