October 2017 – Letters from Lisa

In early 2000 I was running a technology company that, by its nature, was constantly changing.  While that was not hard on me, I noticed that it was hard on many of the folks on my team. However, as the leader I had to figure out what to do since we had to constantly change to stay relevant. I read book after book on how to lead change. One of my favorites started with this sentence. People hate change. That’s pretty blunt, but I have found it to be quite true. Based on this reality, I find the below graphic quite fascinating. 


It’s full of change. Does it reflect smart change or stupid change? I am going to leave the millennial discussion for another month and ask you to describe your business three years ago in five words and then describe it in five words today. Do these words reflect smart change or stupid change? Do you need to change some things up?

Change isn’t always bad, and calculated change could be the answer to growth. But HOW? And WHEN? The decision to change course can happen at any time, for any reason — even if it’s just a gut feeling that it’s best for your company. But if you’re on the fence about it, these four red flags could indicate you’re better off making the switch.

Growth is slowing significantly. Every business goes through ups and downs in growth and profits. No matter what industry you’re in, you’re subject to the market cycle, and it’s normal to experience slower periods throughout the year. But if your charts are on a continual downward trend — especially compared to others in your industry — it might be time to re-evaluate what you’re doing.

The competitors you use to be able to ignore are starting to bother you. Old businesses that aren’t changing with the times and newer startups don’t normally seem like too much of a threat, as they may be too old school or small to compete with you. But that complacency can hurt you if you don’t take those companies seriously.

Your customers aren’t as happy as they once were. Keeping close tabs on your customers is a good way to gauge the health of your business. Primarily positive social media comments and customer feedback are indicators of happy customers. If these good vibes start to wane, you might need to make a change. Watch for signs that your product or service is becoming increasingly less significant to your customers, or that your customers no longer view your business as providing a high-value experience. Please note, you MUST know what your customers think about you. There are many tools to help with this and I am happy to help you pick one. Not knowing is just not an option; and don’t ever think you just know, you must ask using an independent means to know.

There are Internal cues from your staff that things aren’t great. These cues can tip you off to the need for a change as well. Are you having a hard time recruiting for the positions you believe you need to move your company forward? Is your sales team telling you that potential customers are no longer excited about what you do or sell? Are they talking about a new product or service that they wished you offered instead?”

Change takes time, and you’re not necessarily going to be able to quit your old ways cold turkey. However, you should make sure the appropriate attention is given to the change, ideally through the use of a task force of a dedicated group of employees who can bring many thoughts to the table and can define the best solution automatically creating buy-in.

Social Media is a Customer Care Tool

The days of waiting for “normal business hours” to get good customer service are gone. You no longer have to wait until 8 a.m. to dial the phone and hope you get someone knowledgeable on the other end of the line to answer your questions. With social media at our fingertips, it is now viewed as a customer care tool as well as a marketing resource.

Responding or not responding to those customer inquiries can be vital to your company. A Gartner study showed that inquiries that are not responded to will eventually lead the company to a 15% churn rate or loss of business. Conversely, if a company engages and responds to a customer on social media, that customer is likely spend an additional 20-40% more with the company.

“Social media is one of the biggest overlooked resources as a customer care tool,” said Caitlin Tye, Content and Social Media Manager for BioZyme® Inc. “Be sure to have a plan to use social media wisely and respond to your customers.”

We’ve listed five best practices to use social media effectively as a customer care tool. Follow these steps for increased customer retention and growth.

Pick the platform that’s best suited for your audience. If you know that your audience is 30-65 year-olds that primarily use Facebook, that is the platform you need to use. There is no need to be on Instagram or even Snapchat. Use the platform you know will have response and engagement from your customers and potential customers.

Monitor social media. This doesn’t mean you need to sit and stare at your computer all day after you make a post or watch and wait for someone to mention your product. However, you do need to check your alerts for comments and direct messages and be sure you are responding to your customers in a timely manner.

Speed matters. In a survey conducted by The Social Habit, 25% of social users would like a response within the same day, while 42% expect a response within an hour. Tye said it is her goal to respond to customer care inquiries on BioZyme social platforms before the end of the day the message came in, and she usually is a lot quicker than that, depending on the time of day of the inquiry and how much research needs done to respond.

Use the proper tone of voice. Yes, you are typing, but there is still a “tone” to those keystrokes. If someone is upset or has a challenge, show empathy in your response, and don’t ever get defensive. If a customer is excited about the success of a product, don’t be afraid to share in that success, complete with exclamation points and even a smiling emoji! 😊

Know when to move the conversation offline. This doesn’t mean removing a customer’s post, unless it contains vulgar or profane language. However, not all issues can be resolved on social media. Perhaps the customer needs to visit over the phone with a nutritionist or an ASM for clarification or deeper understanding. But remember, direct them to the correct person initially. No one likes getting the run-around and being told they need to talk to someone else.

Customer service is key to retaining and growing your customer base. Make sure you are using the latest technology to answer customer questions and provide them the timely service they have come to expect. Social media is more than a marketing tool, and when used properly can be a great customer service resource.

Invest in Your Team to Grow Your Business

You’ve got product, and you’ve got a sales staff. But according to your accounting records, your product sales haven’t shown much growth lately. Perhaps it’s time to invest some resources into training your team, and start seeing an increase in your business.

According to a Dale Carnegie Training Center study, 40% of employees who receive minimal to no training will leave their job during the first year, stating that they are dissatisfied with their position in the company and overall lack of training, so they don’t feel like part of the team. The same study revealed that employee turnover costs U.S. business owners $11 billion annually.

You can see from those figures that making a small investment in training can save you money and potentially grow your business, as it costs less to hire and keep employees than it does to rehire employees on a regular basis. Your business will be more organized, and your employees will feel more knowledgeable and appreciated.

To put the advantages of a well-trained sales force into perspective, one study showed that once a group of Kinko’s employees were properly trained, that sales force generated three times as many sales of a new product compared to their peers who did not receive training. If you could increase your bottom line by three times, wouldn’t that make the investment of employee training worth it?

Your business will also benefit from training employees through overall productivity. Employees will know more about the products they are selling and how to engage with potential and current customers while being able to comfortably talk about those products. In addition, the employees will be happier, and feel more like part of the team and not just a robot that you’ve got on the staff.

Once you have your sales force trained and start to see sales grow, be sure to let your employees know you value them and their efforts. You might think that a pay check twice a month is appreciation enough. However, a study by the International Society of Performance Improvement on performance improvement, found that incentive programs could increase employee performance by 22% in individuals. There are several inexpensive ways to offer employees incentives for meeting pre-specified goals without cutting into your increased profits.

A few ideas include pre-set commission for predetermined sales above a certain benchmark; paid time-off or flextime for exceptional work or increased sales; host a luncheon in their honor for a big sale or a new customer you’ve been working hard to get – most everyone enjoys pizza or a burger and the added camaraderie is a bonus too; provide them with a gift card to their favorite store or restaurant. Don’t forget the value of the employee’s family. Bonuses and incentives that keep the family in mind include gift cards to the bowling alley or movie theater, a family gym membership or tickets to the rodeo or an entertainer that is coming to town.

Perhaps the biggest incentive for employees to perform to their ultimate ability won’t cost you a dime, but are two simple words our parents taught us long ago:

THANK YOU.

Customers are the #1 Player on the Team

How many times have you seen a football team win by a last-second field goal? The kicker has paced the sideline for most of the game practicing his kicks and keeping that leg ready to go. Although he might not have as much playing time as the quarterback, his participation on the team is of utmost importance.

The same can be said for your customers. You might not see them every day or even communicate with them on a regular basis. Their “on-field” time might seem minimal in comparison with your employees and vendors, but without customers on your team, you’re not even in the game.

Oftentimes you only hear from a customer if he or she needs product or if the customer is disgruntled with a product or service – and that isn’t what you want to hear. It is important to follow up with every customer and ask for feedback, and let the customer know that positive or negative, the feedback they provide is important to your team.

The book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team states that “when people don’t unload their opinions and feel like they have been listened to, they won’t really get on board.” The first step is to begin the conversation, which you or your sales team can do in a follow-up conversation after the sale. Here are three things that companies can do to bring customers into the conversation and engage them as part of the team:

Always be receptive and responsive to feedback. Regardless of the timing or channel, organizations who are prepared to receive and acknowledge customer feedback will have more loyal and engaged customers. This includes phone calls, letters, emails and even social media.

Create an environment built on trust. This means when asking for feedback, clearly state why you want the feedback and what you intend to do with it. In the agricultural world, trust is the foundation of all we do. If your customers don’t trust you, they likely won’t be a part of your team for too long.

Empower customer service teams to solve problems and seek feedback simultaneously. Since most dealers are smaller and not staffed by a sales team and a customer service team, training all employees about the products and how to work with people is more important than ever. A great way to do this is through the new Master Dealer program. For more information about this program, visit www.biozymedealer.com and click “Master Dealer” in the menu.

Once you receive customer feedback and review it, follow up. Customers offer a fresh perspective, and perhaps their idea will help increase sales or bring in a new customer. At the very least, knowing that you acknowledged their feedback will help encourage a positive business relationship and should help your team keep a winning record.

Source: http://blog.macquarium.com/are-your-customers-on-your-team/

September 2017 – Letters From Lisa

Location, location, location, or is it relationships, relationships, relationships? Definitely relationships. Find them, nurture them and watch sales soar.

At BioZyme®, that last sentence is key to how we view our responsibility to each of you. This is what really differentiates us from the many options you have in selecting a company’s mineral program to bring into your dealership.

At BioZyme, we believe our relationships will become your relationships and vice versa if we find, nurture and soar.

Find

To reach our full potential we all need to find meaningful connections with a very broad palette of folks who see things differently than we do, ask very different questions and imagine very different possibilities. BioZyme is committed to finding these meaningful connections so we can connect you. Our exclusive partnership with Superior is one of those connections. As the data continues to roll in and the exclusive value-added nutrition VitaFerm® Raised and Gain Smart® emblems equate to significantly more per pound (currently a 7 cent per pound advantage), the connection will help sales soar.

Nurture

Eighty-one to 90% of customers research your business before they make a purchase. Researching your business means that they go out of their way to learn about who you are and what you do, try to figure out if they can trust you enough to solve their pain points and watch your ‘moves’ to see if you truly deliver on the results you promise. In today’s business, it is important to establish and nurture a relationship from the very first contact through a carefully crafted process, up until the customer is ready to trust the products enough to make a purchase. BioZyme is committed to making sure at every one of these touch points information is easily and readily available, the products do exactly what we say they do and new products are added that assist with their pain points. We strive to help make business more sustainable – yours and theirs.

Do you have a nurturing process in your business that leads your customer up to a sale and other repeat businesses? If not, take the time, find a way.

Soar

An important ingredient in business is celebrating each and every triumph—and forgetting about each and every failure—both with the people around you and with yourself, too. BioZyme is committed to helping you remember just how amazing you are each and every day.

The defining attribute of a great business relationship is when each party has an emotional stake in the other’s success. That defines this team. So all we need to do is . . . .  Take the Time.  Find a Way.

“You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”-Zig Ziglar

Featured Dealer: W.T. Carnes

W.T. Carnes Grows His Business with Sub-dealers

In the heart of the Ozarks, there’s a BioZyme® dealer enthusiastic about the product he sells and the people he works with. W.T. Carnes said he’d been feeding the products to his dairy cattle for several years, and in the fall of 2013, decided to become a dealer.

He has taken initiative to grow his business, and says his sales have doubled every year since he started selling products. As an on-farm dealer, he embraces a basic business principle – making a sale is as much about who you know as it is the products you’re selling.

“People buy from people they know,” Carnes said. “My sub-dealers know more people than just the people I know. They can help me move more tonnage.”

Carnes currently works with five sub-dealers, friends that he said used and believed in the products, just as he did. Two of them live within 30 miles of him, but the others are quite a distance from him, expanding his network and opportunity for growth even more.

“The products really sell themselves. Once a producer hears about the products and tries them, they are usually hooked,” he said.

Carnes said he didn’t always have a network of sub-dealers, but his former ASM, and now Key Accounts Manager, Ken Gillig suggested sub-dealers would be a good way for him to grow his business after being a dealer for almost two years.

Carnes, who recently completed the Master Dealer Training Program, said another valuable tool to growing sales is hosting a producer meeting. He hosted his first meeting last fall, and sold a semi-load of mineral that night. He said that everyone that attended the meeting became a customer or has continued buying from him. The producers appreciated hearing from Mike Wadle, Director of National Sales – North, and being able to ask questions to further understand the products.

Currently, VitaFerm® HEAT®, Concept•Aid® and Gain Smart® Stocker mineral are his best-selling products. He offers two pieces of advice to newer dealers and their sub-dealers looking to grow their business, “If you can get producers to try the product, it will sell itself.” And he suggests keeping inventory low to promote freshness of the product.

A sub-dealer network has helped W.T. continue to grow his sales the past few years by multiplying his efforts and his reach all because of relationships he had with others who use and believe in the products. Are you ready to expand? Perhaps creating a sub-dealer system is the next step for you. For more information about reaching out and working with sub-dealers, contact your ASM.

Use Social Media to Boost Your Business

You’ve built your company’s Facebook page, and hopefully you found the tips in last month’s VISION useful as you begin or enhance your social media presence. But did you know for pennies a day, you can boost the amount of exposure your company gets on Facebook?

One of the most effective tools on Facebook is a button that allows you to “boost” a post or geo target specific customers with specific messages. Once you have created a post, you can click the “boost post” button, which allows you to create parameters to target a very specific audience including:

LOCATION: You can add the specific town or zip code you want to target, drop a pin or add multiple towns, say if you were hosting producer meetings in multiple locations. Once you have a location added, you can add a radius between 10-50 miles around the town or area you want to target.

AGE & GENDER: You can target only men, only women or both. You can target ranges of age groups between 13 to 65+ years old. Even though you can target 13-year-olds remember, Facebook does not allow you to target sales to anyone under 18-years-old. However, if you were hosting a youth livestock clinic, you might want to target 13-21, since that would be the group most likely to participate.

TARGET GROUP: Search by keyword to find a very specific target audience. Are you trying to promote Vitalize® to horse enthusiasts in your area? Type ‘horse’ in the keyword search, and the following will appear: horse, horse training, horse breeding and horse riding. You can click and select the groups that fit your needs, and anyone who has shown interest in those groups, who match the age, gender and location target you have selected will see your post. They don’t have to be your current customers or even like your page.

COST: Remember you set your budget, and you determine how much you want to spend. You can spend $10 for a post to show up for a month or you can spend $10 for the same post to only appear for a day.

“The more money you put toward your post, the more opportunity you have in reaching a larger percentage of the selected audience,” said Caitlin Tye, Content and Social Media.

If you are a dealer, and there is a cattle show coming to your town, you might create a post to promote you have Sure Champ® and Sure Champ Climate Control on hand. When you type ‘cattle’ in the keyword search, the following appear: Angus, Hereford, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, cattle rancher, Cattlemen’s Steakhouse. You would select all of those except Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, because you would more than likely get someone who is a beef eater, and not a show participant seeing your post, which does not encourage engagement.

Boosting a post is an efficient, inexpensive way to reach a large group of potential customers who have a core group of interests. If you have more questions about how to create a targeted post, contact Kristi Stevens, Marketing Project Manager, at (816) 596-8795 or email her at kstevens@biozymeinc.com.

What Do You Need to Grow?

Companies of all types and sizes typically want to grow in one way or another—whether it’s in terms of revenues, profits, number of employees or customers, market share or number of locations. And while not every business owner has aspirations to build the next Google, almost every business wants to see progress from one year to the next, even if it’s just in the amount of money one can take home to the family. Research shows that trying to grow when the business is not ready is a leading cause of business failure. So, knowing if you and your business are ready to grow is very important to its success. The first google item that pops up for this topic makes it look so easy.  Just buy an “all-in-one platform” and it will scale business growth.

We all know this is not the way sustainable growth works and that we need to spend some major time setting the stage for growth for it to occur successfully. The below questions can help get the plan moving forward.

What is your long-term goal and how does that impact your growth decision? No goal, no glory. While we can’t predict the future, we can certainly plan for it.

Are you prepared financially? In our personal life, they say you should have six months of expenses saved “in case.” Growth is an “in case,” so that same basic rule applies to business. On top of this amount, one needs to add the estimated additional expenses from the growth plan. Don’t implement the plan without the cash.

Do you have the space and capacity to grow from a facility standpoint or will you need to expand? You must know the full capacity of your current operation before you begin this growth endeavor. You then must know what percent of that capacity you are currently operating. This is imperative to the decisions ahead.

How will you fund the potential expansion? Growth financing is every bit as hard–if not harder–to obtain than startup funding. Do regular cash-flow projections so that you know how much credit you’re going to need well before you have to start writing checks. Develop and maintain strong relationships with your funding sources and be sure to have primary and backup sources available. In today’s financial climate, it’s harder than ever to predict credit availability, so stay on top of your cash and financial needs to give yourself plenty of room to maneuver when it’s time to borrow.

How much human capital will be required to meet your growth goals? Where will you find it and how will you pay for it? The team that can successfully run a $1 million company is not the same team that can run a $50 million company. If your goal is growth, hire people who can perform in the size company you want to be–they’ll help you get there.

Will your existing customers remain loyal during the growth pains? No company can do without customers, and if you don’t stay close to them, you’ll lose them. Know what they need, but more importantly, know what they want and do everything you can to give that to them. Most important though is to communicate. Never let your customers wonder what’s going on. Tell them–whether it’s good or bad.

Will the work required to grow bring unavoidable stress into your life that could potentially deter your ability to successfully operate your business with your best foot forward? Be honest here and make sure you really think it through.

The better prepared you are for growth, the better your chances for success. Devise a plan that helps you get to where you want to go. Make sure you think of your plan as a GPS system. Don’t think once you are on the route that you know better than the GPS. And remember, the more specific your plan, the less chance you have to get lost.

Last but not least, don’t forget to focus on your core business and don’t get distracted. Stick to the business your company knows best. Be sure any diversification or product line expansion you do makes sense. If it has nothing to do with your core business don’t get into it just because it seems like a good opportunity. Otherwise, you’ll you confuse your customers and your employees–and you’ll likely find that dividing your efforts reduces the quality and profitability of everything.

Just as you plan for when things go wrong, also plan for when things go well. When you’re prepared for growth, you can better manage the changes it brings and let it take you to the goal you set when you started.

Grow Your Customer Base in 7 Simple Steps

Growing your customer base can seem exhausting. But without customers, our business model and our businesses are pointless. Former Goldman Sachs CEO John Whitehead offers his top tips in growing a customer base quickly in a recent article on Inc.com.

  1. Don’t waste your time going after business you don’t really want. Is there a producer who has tried every supplement brand around only to feed one or two bags and find something he or she is dissatisfied with? Are you the next target on the list? Perhaps your time is better spent talking to other potential customers who you know would benefit from your products and services than investing much time into the person in the “mineral of the month” club who won’t likely be a long-term customer.

  2. The boss usually makes the final decision. When calling on a potential customer make sure you are focusing your efforts on the right person. Maybe your buddy is the cowboy at a large feedlot, but chances are he isn’t going to be making major decisions about animal nutrition or health. However, he might be able to introduce you to the manager, who does make the decisions, and he can still serve as a resource and save you some time.

  3. You never learn anything when you’re talking. Ask questions of your customers, and listen carefully. If you are talking more than 50 percent of the time, you are talking too much. Listen to what goals are for their operations or what challenges they are experiencing. Then offer products that can help them meet their goals or overcome their challenges.

  4. The respect of one person is worth more than an acquaintance with 100 people. Treat each customer like he or she is your number one priority. Know what is important to them. Is it their family, the local football team or even their old ranch dog? Treat customers with respect, and you will earn their trust and respect in return. And they will likely tell their neighbors about that great BioZyme rep they do business with.

  5. When there’s business to be found, go out and get it! As mentioned in last month’s VISION, there is potential everywhere! Talking to existing customers about other product lines they could use is a great idea. Does that cow-calf producer have horses or a dog? Be sure to sell them the Vitalize® line of products. Or does your existing customer have a friend or neighbor that raises another species that you can help them with? Ask existing customers for names of potential customers and watch your customer list grow.

  6. There’s nothing worse than an unhappy client. Did you have a customer that was upset with his or her results. Customer satisfaction is key to keeping customers and growing your customer base. Make sure you solve any issues that arise with unhappy customers as soon as you can. That way when they are gathered around the local coffee shop, you become a hero, not another no-good sales person.

  7. If you get the business, it’s up to you to see that it’s well-handled. Follow-up is imperative, especially with new customers. Call them a few weeks into using the products to see how things are going. Do they have questions you can answer? Do they need more product? Happy customers will be repeat customers.

Growing your customer base is key to growing your business. Potential customers are everywhere. Make it your goal to grow your customer list each month.

Discovering the Six Keys to Success

Most everyone remembers who wins. Olympic gold medalists are honored with the playing of their country’s national anthem. Rodeo athletes are interviewed after they win their respective sports. World Series Champions are honored with parades in their hometowns. Football fans watch the NFL draft each year to see who the first-round picks are so they can continue to watch their favorite college players in the pros. But have you ever watched the 12th round of the draft to see who is the 310th pick? Unless you are related to that particular football player, probably not. But not everyone can be first, and even when you are the 310th choice, you can still work hard, show dedication and become successful.

That was the message former Denver Bronco Karl Mecklenburg shared the final morning of this year’s BioZyme® Dealer Retreat as he reflected on his 12 years in the NFL. The 310th pick in the 1983 draft never gave up and became a Denver Broncos Captain and All-Pro Linebacker. His career included six Pro Bowl and three Super Bowl appearances and he became one of the NFL’s most versatile players, playing all seven defensive front positions – often during one game.

Mecklenburg had a dream, and he never gave up.

“Success is overcoming obstacles on the way to your dream,” Mecklenburg said. Now as a motivational speaker and author, he encourages others to follow his six keys to success.

1 – Teamwork. Leadership is the ultimate expression of teamwork. As a leader if you are clear and consistent with a team commitment, the rest of your team will follow.

2 – Courage. Mecklenburg encourages others to have the courage to try new things. This might be expanding your product line, reaching out to new customers or even hiring an employee if you are a one-person dealer. “If you take the first step in the right direction before anyone else, all the angles change in your favor.”

3 – Dedication. Don’t ever quit. If Mecklenburg had been discouraged by his 12th round pick, he might have given up and never played in three Super Bowls. If you are dedicated to your business and your customers, you will realize your potential and continue to grow your business.

4 – Desire. If you have the desire to succeed, you will work to succeed.
Talent won’t get you near as far as desire and preparation. If you are getting ready to meet with a potential customer, do your homework. Find out about that producer, what makes that producer “click”, what does he or she need to make the operation more successful? If you have the desire to succeed, and put the work and preparation into your desire, you will succeed. “There is nothing holding you back but yourself,” Mecklenburg said.

5 – Honesty. The only way to make improvements is to be honest with yourself and others. You must know where you are today to know what goals to set for the future.

6 – Forgiveness. “Anyone who has lived a lot has made mistakes,” Mecklenburg said. Forgive those who make mistakes so you can keep those friendships, business relationships and support systems. It is especially important to forgive if someone admits they made a mistake.

It is vital to keep these keys for success in mind – in everything you do. Today, you might feel like a 12th round NFL draft pick, but with courage, dedication, desire, honesty, forgiveness and a team like BioZyme backing you, you will be a success! Take the time. Find a way.

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