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.

March 2017 – Letters from Lisa

At BioZyme®, we track our market share in all the different markets where we are trying to grow. While the sales team would tell you that I use market share as a part of my slave driver approach to growth; it is actually not true. I use market share to motivate our entire team (you too) around the significant opportunity that still awaits us.

Our growth has been impressive and would not be possible without each of you. This growth makes it easy to ask how many more years is this really possible? The answer to that is objective and easy when you assess it from the market share perspective. At the end of 2016, our market share in the cow-calf sector was 1.5%. On a state-by-state basis it ranges from 10% in Indiana down to 0.2% in Texas. Just to give you some comparative perspective, McDonalds has 17% market share in the fast food industry, while the strongly misguided Chipotle has 2.2%.

Increasing market share is one of the most important objectives of business. The main advantage of using market share as a measure of business performance is that it is less dependent upon variables such as the state of the economy or changes in tax policy. Market share is said to be a key indicator of market competitiveness—that is, how well a firm is doing against its competitors. Similarly, within a firm’s product line, market share trends for individual products are considered early indicators of future opportunities.

I am sure by now, you are thinking let’s go grow market share. And because you are thinking that right now, I am hugging you. It is my job to keep the team focused on how to continue to grow that market share. It’s actually not that easy, but there are a few things one should constantly consider:

Stay relevant through innovation. One great way to gain market share is to spot new trends ahead of competitors. Listen carefully when you’re chatting with friends, watching the news or listening to kids talk about what they like. There may be a change in the wind your business can jump on.

Respond to customers – fast. Remember when leaving a voicemail recording that said, “I’ll get back to you within 24 hours” seemed responsive? Not anymore. In this age of real-time, shoppers are increasingly loyal to the company that can fix their problem right now. Check out how fast your competitors respond, and then be faster; customers will take notice.

Keep an open channel for customer ideas. One of those ideas might be your next hit product. So, let’s hear from all of you. What should we be considering as an add-on to our product line up??

Snap up competitors. Sometimes the easiest way to get more customers is to simply buy them. Watch for competitors that might be up for sale and purchase them or their customer lists.

Let’s go get that market share – our BioZyme goal is to get to 2.5% in the next 2 years. WE CAN DO THIS!!

Dealer Success Stories: Customer Service is Key

Webster defines success as a “favorable or desirable outcome.” This group of dealers epitomizes that success, growing their sales significantly over the past year. But success doesn’t just happen. Ask any one of them, and they will attribute their success to having a great product, providing top-notch customer service and having great people to work with – customers, employees and BioZyme® support.

Bowman Grain
Bowman, North Dakota

Education and communication are two of the keys to a successful BioZyme dealership, according to Bob White, manager of Bowman Grain in Bowman, North Dakota.

“Having producer meetings is important to us,” White said. “We try to keep the area producers informed about changes in the industry like VFD, and hold meetings during different times of the year to discuss breeding and weaning.”

White says providing outstanding customer service has been key to their sales success. Bowman Grain offers delivery, makes sure their customers know about volume discounts, and follows up with their customers to make sure the products they have purchased are working for their livestock operation.

And the best thing about being a BioZyme dealer, according to Bob, is the support received. “The dealer support we get from our ASM and the company is great. Our ASM goes with our sales staff around the country to talk to potential customers about the benefits of VitaFerm® products.”

Circle L Feed
Quitman, Arkansas

People helping other people is what helps make the sale at Circle L Feed in Quitman, Arkansas. Although they are fairly new BioZyme® dealers, Circle L has been in business for 18 years, and owner Mike Lagasse gives his employees tremendous credit for knowing the products they sell and listening to the customer to find out his or her needs.

“We do take care of our business and don’t worry about the competition. It will always be there,” Lagasse said. “We have professional staff who greets everyone when they walk in the door, answers questions and then sells something that will help the producers make money. BioZyme has a lot of choices for that.”

Many of the Circle L employees have been with the company for years, and Lagasse said they are all cross-trained to work in any part of the store. When they begin selling a new product, the employees learn about it so they can best help their customers.

Dealer Success Stories: Producer Testimonials Sell the Product

Webster defines success as a “favorable or desirable outcome.” This group of dealers epitomizes that success, growing their sales significantly over the past year. But success doesn’t just happen. Ask any one of them, and they will attribute their success to having a great product, providing top-notch customer service and having great people to work with – customers, employees and BioZyme® support.

 

Mike Damon
Knoxville, Iowa

For Mike Damon, becoming a BioZyme dealer seemed like a natural fit. He’s been feeding the product to his own livestock since the 1970s. His dad’s cousin, Deverne Dixon, used to work as the dealer in the area around Knoxville, Iowa, where Mike and his wife, Barb, live today. And, Mike said it is vital to his business success to be available for all producers.

“If I don’t know the answer to a customer’s question, I’ll try to find out,” Mike said as he complimented his ASM for always providing assistance. “The guy who has five cows thinks he is just as important as the guy with 500, and when it comes to sales, he is. Because the guy with five cows can be really positive and help you sell just as much as the guy with 500.”

Mike said some of the best parts about selling BioZyme products are the people and helping the producers. He has left mineral at some farms for years, and never has seen a person, but a positive experience creates a chain reaction, and that producer tells his friends, and then Mike adds two or three more customers.

High Hill Supplements
Schulenburg, Texas

Cultivating relationships and targeting progressive producers has helped High Hill Supplements grow their BioZyme® business during the past year. Kevin Warnken, Schulenburg, Texas, said he works hard to find larger, progressive producers, explains the benefits of using the BioZyme products, and sells them the products that will work for their ranch.

He shared about one customer who had a 92-percent conception rate on 1,200 cows. Warnken convinced the rancher to use VitaFerm® Concept•Aid® the next year. The rancher’s additional $8,000 supplement investment increased his conception rate to 96-percent, which produced about 50 more calves, and put more money in his pocket. He was sold.

And producers of all sizes are singing praises to Warnken, who just received a note from a smaller customer who had used Concept•Aid: “Just wanted to say thanks. 100% calf crop in 2016. 45 out of 45.”

Warnken said that while testimonials from peers will help gain customers, hard work and customer service helps him keep a customer. He said delivering the product and following up with the producer is important, and last year he delivered nearly 450 tons in his pickup.

“We make the deliveries ourselves, ask them what they want and give them twice what they ask for,” he said. “The only thing I’ll sell is something that works. It’s not a glorious life, but it is a great life.”

Dealer Success Stories: BioZyme Support is Vital

Webster defines success as a “favorable or desirable outcome.” This group of dealers epitomizes that success, growing their sales significantly over the past year. But success doesn’t just happen. Ask any one of them, and they will attribute their success to having a great product, providing top-notch customer service and having great people to work with – customers, employees and BioZyme® support.

Tappen Farm Supply
Tappen, North Dakota

For Kurt Bodvig, owner and manager of Tappen Farm Supply in central North Dakota, the combination of a great product from a reputable company and having product readily available is what continues to sell BioZyme to his customers. In his small community of approximately 200 people, there are probably 10 different people who sell animal nutrition products, so keeping customers happy is important.

“Most guys are happy with the product, and as long as they are happy, we are happy,” he said.

In addition to tracking what his customers use and keeping inventory for them, the feed store hosts an annual producer meeting each February, with the assistance of ASMs Dorothy Orts and Katelyn Wendel. Producers enjoy a good meal, and the chance to visit one-on-one with the ASMs to learn more about the products and their benefits, Bodvig said.

K Triangle Feed
Glendo, Wyoming

Keith Micke, Glendo, Wyoming, is a dealer who uses his resources to their full potential, and he never gives up. He says the tools that BioZyme® offers dealers, from the online dealer center to the staff who help him over the phone and in person, are valuable to his success.

“Their nutritionists have come out for producer meetings. And ASM, Britney Creamer has come and helped me at various shows around the state, including the Wyoming State Fair, where she even brought fresh peaches to share with customers,” Micke said. “The folks at BioZyme are great people, and you need to use them to benefit your business.”

He also mentioned the online record keeping tools are valuable to track previous sales, maintain a mailing list and see what products customers ordered at certain times of year. But perhaps just as important as the resources BioZyme offers, he appreciates that it is a family-oriented business that strives to help producers succeed.

Coal Valley Feeds
Cherokee, Kansas

Jackie Coltrane is passionate about the livestock industry. It doesn’t matter if he’s telling you about his three-generation Angus seedstock operation, selling semen for Select Sires, or representing BioZyme, his excitement for helping others succeed can’t be masked.

“Having a product that does what it is supposed to do and a company that will support you are the best parts of being a BioZyme dealer,” Coltrane said. Coltrane gives respect to his ASM John Jeffrey and Erin Creason, Inside Sales Coordinator, for helping him with any questions he has, and continually providing him information.

“Erin is a huge asset to us, as she fills our artillery with educational materials to pass on to customers and potential customers,” Coltrane said.  He added that she is readily available via phone call or text and always responds promptly to his inquiries.

Another resource that Coltrane appreciates is the product education they provide. With so many products, he said it’s nice when they put out new research or educational material so he can best help his customers find the product that will best fit their needs.

February 2017 – Letters from Lisa

“ACTION IS THE FOUNDATIONAL KEY TO ALL SUCCESS.” -Pablo Picasso

In mid-January, our area prepared for an ice storm compared to nothing we had seen since 1993. I don’t remember the ice storm of 1993, but it must have been bad as they were predicting a ½- to ¾-inch of ice in this storm, a very disruptive amount. A disruptive ice storm is typically one of  ¼- to ½-inch of ice accumulation. This amount of ice starts to damage trees and power lines. As a matter of fact, a  ½ inch accumulation on power lines can add 500 pounds of extra weight.

Having an action plan around this ice storm was important to my survival success, as I am responsible for a very famous horse, two rabbits and three dogs. Our daughter came home so I had to make sure she was safe too. With all that in mind, Bob got an electrician to set up a generator wired to the house for basic power, we (along with everyone else in St. Joe) went to the grocery store and got enough food to last at least a week. We bought every heated blanket and small heater they had left at Target, and I slept on the couch so I would hear the storm hit. I did this for three nights. The ice never came. Was all this action a waste of time or did it have value?

We don’t ever expect to have to deal with an ice storm, a flood or a tornado but when they do happen, the difference between life and death is often determined by how prepared we are for action and how much of a plan we have. The same is true in business.

Here are three easy steps to ensure you maximize the value of your business with planned action.

Pick Your Three “Focus Areas” – Focus Areas are the most important areas for your business to spotlight, the areas that will really help you develop your business. Stick with no more than three, as too many priorities mean you have no top priorities. Sure, you’ll still have to take care of your company’s day-to-day operational needs, but focusing on a few key chunks will actually produce value for your company. Potential focus areas could be:

  • Increasing your lead flow
  • Improving your sales conversion system
  • Speeding up your collections cycle
  • Making a key hire
  • Developing a new product

Define Success for Each of Your Three Focus Areas – generally, you should pick criteria of success that you have control over (or, at the very least, you have a great deal of influence over). It’s important to look for criteria that are as objectively and quantitatively measurable as possible. Pick one “Key Performance Indicator” to track. Your KPI for each Focus Area gives you a yardstick against which to measure progress as you go. By laying out your criteria of success for each Focus Area, you’ll have clear clues for what action steps you need to take.

Lay Out Your Key Action Steps and Milestones – the final step is to lay out the key action steps you need to take and milestones you need to reach to accomplish success for each Focus Area. Try to break down each Focus Area into five to seven action steps. For each action step, pick a team member to be responsible for executing the step by a definite date.

Remember, action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.

Dealer Spotlight: Tennessee River Music

It is easy for Tennessee River Music to market and sell BioZyme® products. They have seen great success with many of the products on their own cattle enterprises, and John and Randa Starnes of Fort Payne, Ala. say the success they have had with the products helps sell them to other producers.

“If we didn’t believe in the products we wouldn’t use them or sell them,” Randa says.

John says they started selling BioZyme products nearly four years ago when they had seen positive results on their purebred Hereford and Angus operation. There wasn’t a dealer nearby, and the products they wanted were not always readily available. They decided to become BioZyme dealers so they would have the products on hand, and they could help other producers in the area secure a high-quality nutrition package.

“We are our biggest customer, but we have several smaller producers in the area that know we keep products on hand in our commodity shed,” John said. “We don’t have a retail store, but people know we are usually around if they need something, and as long as it isn’t midnight, I’ll help them load up what they need.”

John says Tennessee River Music’s customer base covers about a 100-mile radius, with a few customers further out. John, who has a master’s degree in ruminant nutrition, wanted to provide a service to area cattle producers while having another venue to network with them. Adding BioZyme products seemed like a natural fit.

John says the products really do sell themselves, and once a producer tries a particular product, repeat customers become the norm. At their bull stud, they put a 50 lb. VitaFerm® Concept•Aid® Protein Tub in each pen, something that bull owners from across the southeast take note of. He also says that this year, with the extreme heat and drought, the VitaFerm HEATTM mineral is a perfect fit for their operation.

HEAT helps their cattle shed off, tolerate the midday heat and is fed to their spring calving cows that are bred in the summer time heat.

“During this time of extreme drought, the protein tubs have proven to be a cost- effective way to add supplemental protein. This year, we have seen these products pick up in sales due to the ease of handling, where most people aren’t set up to handle loads of feed, and the devoid of pasture in our area,” John said. “When we start explaining to producers that it’s 20% natural protein that contains a mineral package that also includes Amaferm® and all of its proven benefits at a one pound inclusion rate, it really is a cost-effective option. We look at is as a three-in-one product – mineral, protein and Amaferm.”

Another favorite product is the Vita Charge® Stress Tub that John puts out for the first few weeks of weaning. He says these encourage calves to have a steady appetite, and in all the weaning seasons he has used them for, both the fall and spring calving herds, he has not had to treat a single calf for bloat or respiratory illness.

One product that John and Randa have found fairly simple to market is the 50 lb. Concept•Aid Protein Tub. John says a couple of factors play into that product’s popularity. First, the average herd size in their area is less than 25 cows. The tubs are the perfect size for the smaller producers. Next, many farms in the area rely on the wife to take care of the livestock while the husband works off-farm. The 50 lb. size is much more manageable for a woman than a 200 lb. tub. And finally, the popularity of raising and showing goats in the southeast has risen in the past few years, and the 50 lb. tub is just the right size for goat raisers according to John.

“Believe in the product you are trying to sell and know why it is better than brand X,” John said.

Marketing the New Cow-Calf Mineral

It’s no secret that times are tough. Producers are constantly looking for ways to stretch their dollars. And luckily for them, BioZyme® is always developing new products with its producers’ best interests in mind while still utilizing its key ingredient, Amaferm®, in all products.

As BioZyme rolls out its new VitaFerm® Cow-Calf Mineral, producers will now have a lower-cost mineral option available to them during “belt- tightening” times or during times of the year when they choose to maximize savings.

“This mineral package was designed for the price conscious producer looking to lower their input costs,” said Alan Lee, Director of Sales – South. “But it is still a better option than other economy mineral lines because it contains Amaferm.”

According to Lee, many producers will sacrifice quality to buy the cheapest product at a local farm or box store. And in the end, those producers discover they get what they pay for. While the new VitaFerm Cow-Calf Mineral does not contain the same level of vitamin and minerals as all other VitaFerm mineral products, it does still exceed NRC requirements. The big ticket to marketing the VitaFerm Cow-Calf Mineral is to remind customers they will still see the Amaferm advantage when using this product.

“Producers can keep their cows on Amaferm at a lower price point,” Lee said. Lee encourages producers to continue feeding VitaFerm Concept•Aid® during the critical times of production like breeding and prior to calving to get the most return on their investment. However, he says due to the Amaferm being included in the lower cost mineral package, producers should still see increased appetites, initial gain and increased feed conversion from VitaFerm Cow-Cow Mineral in the down time.

The introduction of the VitaFerm Cow-Calf Mineral to the BioZyme line of products is a good way to capture new customers, according to Lee. He encourages dealers to find those producers who have been buying the $18-20 bags of mineral from competing brands and introduce them to this mineral and the Amaferm advantage. He says once they try this mineral, and see some small results, they are likely to try some other products, see big results and be hooked on the BioZyme products. He also recommends marketing this to less-progressive producers who don’t demand great results immediately. Lee adds that the price point of this new mineral option makes it a great product to have on hand, so fill the truck with it to take advantage of better freight rates.

“All dealers have those price conscious customers. This is a good product to put before them, but remind them, they do get what they pay for,” Lee said.

Two Ways to Maximize Profits

Listening to his customers’ goals and watching them learn from their experiences are two of the ways that Don Bush, manager at Powell Feed and Milling, tries to help his customers minimize expenses and maximize their profits. As a BioZyme® dealer in north central and northwest Arkansas, Don tries to use the proactive approach of reaching out to his customer base and identifying their needs.

“We try to get on the phone with our customers as much as possible to find out their goals and understand what they are trying to accomplish with their operations,” Bush said. They have an outside sales person who also tries to get to each of their eight retail locations weekly to maximize personal contact with the customers as much as possible.

The first way that Don helps his customers maximize profits is with one of his most popular products, the VitaFerm® 30-13% Protein Tub, which he says his customers appreciate as a complete mineral package.

“It offers a protein source that works really well in our part of the world, and it has a complete mineral package,” Bush said. “When compared to a traditional tub and bagged mineral program, it is more efficient. Research has proven that a higher percentage of cattle consume mineral on a regular basis when it is in a molasses-based tub versus a dry bagged mineral. So, more of the cattle get the mineral and protein they need, consistently. Consistency is very important in rumen health and efficiency. Amaferm® being part of the package is just like putting a supercharger on a good engine.”

Don says he is excited to market the new VitaFerm Cow-Calf Mineral as a second way to help his customers maximize their profits with a lower-cost option that still offers the Amaferm advantage. When his customers chose a lower-quality product, their cattle don’t perform to their expectations, and they soon realize that the Amaferm advantage saves them money in the long run.

“Amaferm is the key to the products,” Bush said. “The new VitaFerm Cow-Calf Mineral will give us a product to market to producers that offers cost savings without wrecking their cows. This mineral will allow producers to roll back when times are tight, and Amaferm is magic.”

Bush notes that there are multiple ways a complete mineral package saves producers money over time. With a product like Amaferm, producers see increased appetites, increased gains and more productive cows that breed back more efficiently. He adds that a good nutrition programs keeps calves healthy, which lowers vet and animal health bills.

“BioZyme has never had a low-cost option before, and this product should help those producers who want to save money,” Bush said. He hopes that more producers will take the proactive approach to implementing a quality nutrition program, even in tougher times. “This market has caused everyone to tighten their belts and cut costs. But a quality nutrition package will save and make producers money down the road.”