Courage to Ask

It feels pretty good to have a loyal customer base that you’ve built relationships with while growing your business. You know their needs, and they have learned to rely on you to have the products they need when they need them. However, you can’t continue to grow your business if you aren’t constantly seeking out new customers and leads.

It isn’t always comfortable to make that first call, but seeking out new customers is imperative to continue growing your business. Surely not every livestock owner, cattle feeder, horse and dog owner in your sales area is familiar and using BioZyme® products, and if they are, kudos to you! So, find those who are not using the products and reach out to them.

Not sure the best way to find those prospects? Here are a few simple suggestions from Inc.com to find new customers.

Cold-calling. This involves reaching out to someone you’ve probably never talked to before and know very little about. Perhaps you scour the ads in the local shopper paper each week for people who are selling livestock. If you see someone in your area who isn’t a customer, they automatically become a potential customer. Chances are if they aren’t a customer, the reason is because no one has ever asked them before.

Networking. There are several opportunities for networking in the agricultural business world. Perhaps you have a booth at a local cattlemen’s meeting or extension field day. You might even attend the weekly sales at the local livestock auction barn or the county fair to visit with people that you know are not current customers.

Ask for referrals. Ask your satisfied customers to send their friends and customers your way. Perhaps you can work out a deal to get a buyer’s list from a seedstock producer who hosts an annual sale. Peer reviews go a long way, and especially if other producers see positive results, they are going to want to get similar results with their livestock.

Affiliate marketing. Partner with a non-competing ag company like a bull stud or fencing company to share contact names to get the maximum exposure. Perhaps its as simple as inviting their customer list to an open house or producer meeting.

Once you’ve found new prospects, be sure to approach them in a way that that shows you are interested in learning more about them and their operation and offer solutions to their challenges. Mike Wadle, Director of National Sales – North, offers three pieces of advice for approaching prospective customers:

Listen, listen, listen. Ask open-ended questions and let the prospect talk. If you ask the right questions and listen more than you talk, you will learn a lot about the prospect. The prospect will feel like you care, and that you are sharing genuine interest in his or her operation.

Do not go into a call with a predetermined sales route you want to follow. If you think you are going to sell tons of one product without even knowing the needs of the prospect, you will likely have deflated goals. Once you know what the needs are of the prospect, you can start recommending products that best fit his or her needs.

Follow up is very important. Wadle says it is important to follow up with the prospects to show that you care about them and their needs, and the sooner the better. Don’t put off follow-up. Perhaps before you leave the initial call ask when a good time is to reach back out to them to answer any questions they might have thought of.

Finding new customers is all about building relationships. Relationships start with simple questions, showing you care about a person, their animals and their bottom line. Expand your relationships, and watch your customer base grow.

December 2017 – Letters from Lisa

Christmas is my favorite time of year. The birth of Christ and its meaning has been a monumental part of my life, and my birthday is December 24 – that is a story of courage in itself.

There is a much better story of courage that took place at the first Christmas. We often miss it because our focus is on a young mother and a baby. This character heard first hand that his bride-to-be was pregnant, and it was not his child. He experienced a personal message from God because of the extraordinary event. He stood by the manger where the baby was laid. He provided protection for the mother and child during the early years of the child’s life. The man’s name of course is Joseph. What the story of Joseph tells us is that:

1. God gives courage to ordinary people.

2. God gives us courage to overcome our doubts and fears.

3. God gives us courage to face the future.

God provides the same courage to business leaders, but we try to complicate it by making rash, unproductive or irrational decisions.

The word ‘courage’ derives from the Latin word cor, which means ‘the heart.’ Courage originally meant “To speak one’s mind by revealing all one’s heart,”in other words, to speak openly and to act honestly with integrity. It means to tell your story how it is – even at the risk of being rejected, ridiculed or misunderstood. Do you have this type of courage in your business?

The good news about courage in business is that it is not something you either have or don’t have. Courage can be learned, cultivated and practiced.

Six processes can help you start down this path: setting goals; determining the importance of achieving them; tipping the power balance in your favor to precipitate action; weighing costs against benefits and moving forward with that balance in mind; selecting the proper time line for action and developing backup plans.

Changing our lives, and eventually creating an entire culture of courage, starts with small acts which then produce micro-changes in each of these processes.

As we enter into the Christmas season, do you need the courage of Joseph to boost your business? Joseph took what he perceived at the time to be small steps, but those courageous steps made our world and our lives a better place.

Featured Dealer: Dailey Ag

Mike and Nancy Dailey weren’t initially looking to get into the farm store business. Nearly eight years later, the farm couple from Oskaloosa, Kan.,
has built a successful farm store that carries everything from fertilizer
and fencing supplies to fuel and feed, including a complete line of
BioZyme® products.

“Our old co-op went out of business and we bought it so we’d still have access to fertilizer and the other resources we needed to continue farming,” said Nancy Dailey. “And the business just kept growing bigger.”

The family-owned and operated business also includes two daughters, one a student at Kansas State and another in high school that both help as their schedules allow; a son who farms and helps as he can, and a future daughter-in-law, who also works at the store. In addition to the family members who help as they can, Nancy said she has a great team of employees who live by the store motto, “Ag is a Dailey Job.”

“I enjoy seeing my children interested in our business. We want to
continue to build a business that we can be proud to leave them
someday,” Nancy said.

As the Daileys see a need in their rural community, they try to fill it. When the local gas station closed, the Daileys bought those tanks and started offering both off- and on-road diesel. And the same can be said about the BioZyme products. A local livestock producer inquired at Dailey Ag about VitaFerm® HEAT®, and so the Daileys did the research and became dealers
to meet their customers’ needs.

“We didn’t have to do too much advertising. I put on our sign out front that we were VitaFerm dealers, and people would come into me and make their requests. We started with HEAT, and then added Vita Charge® Stress Tubs and now carry a full line,” Nancy said.

Nancy says they have seen tremendous growth in the sales of the BioZyme products since they became dealers in 2016. One advantage she says their dealership has is they can keep their prices lower and pass that cost savings to their customers since they are located about an hour from St. Joseph, and often send their own semis to pick up orders.

She has also taken the opportunity to work with ASM John Jeffrey to learn from him and use him as a resource. At a producer meeting Dailey Ag hosted in August, Jeffrey took the time to talk to customers and potential customers to educate them on the benefits of BioZyme products and to answer their questions individually. Nancy said she appreciated the information as well, and at least two customers told her it was the best meeting they have been to where information, rather than a pushy sales talk, was presented.

“People are familiar with the BioZyme products and they like them. If there is something they need or want they will come in, and we will get the product for them,” Nancy said.

With a customer-service attitude like that, Dailey Ag is sure to be a business to thrive for generations. For more information about Dailey Ag, visit www.daileyag.net.

Displays That Excite!

Customers shop with their eyes, and their eyes need to land on a display that is exciting enough to entice them, yet simple enough to understand as well as being simple for you to assemble in the limited space that you have available. Here are a few ways you can spice up your displays to make them eye-appealing and useful to the consumer:

Keep things at eye level. No one likes to bend down to read a product label, so it is important to stack product high enough that customers can see what it is without getting on their knees. With that said, be sure to stack bags at a safe level and neatly so they don’t slide around and fall over.

Group like products together. Keep similar product lines together, so customers can see the various options that are available to them. They won’t want to go back and forth between products to compare labels.

Place small pack products up front. These smaller, usually less expensive items sometimes get left behind in the stacks of 50-pound bags and tubs. Place smaller items up front and train employees to suggest them as customers are checking out, especially if they complement other items customers are buying or are in season. Is it calving time? Be sure to suggest some Vita Charge® Neonatal or Vita Charge Paste. If it is the summer show season, and a customer is buying Sure Champ® keep Climate Control near the counter, and remember to suggest they add a few tubes of that to their order.

Displays don’t have to be extravagant to be eye-catching. Some signage is nice, but flashy neon signs and streamers aren’t necessary. Contact Kristi Stevens, Marketing Project Manager at (816) 596-8795 to order pre-designed, eye-appealing signs with the brand logos on them to hang above products your store offers. These vinyl signs are easy to clean, easy to read and will lead customers to the products they are looking for.

Add product information to your displays. Information is power, and it is always a good idea to add support materials like a product brochure or spec sheet close to the products you have on display. You might be busy with another customer, and the brochure might have just the information a customer was looking for to make the decision to buy the product.

Be sure to add any special pricing or promotions. Once again, signage doesn’t have to be extravagant, just easy to read with a clear message.

Display at least one of every product you offer. You might not have a large area to bulk stack multiple bags of the same product. Then use a table to put out one of each product or literature on the products you do have available. If the customers don’t know you have it, they can’t buy it.

Making an effective display takes time and energy, but it doesn’t take an advanced degree in artistic design or carpentry. Use the resources available to you, make it easy to see and add signage and supporting materials to provide information.  Keep small-pack products close to the front where they can be easily discussed at check-out, and keep items out on a seasonal basis. Follow these basic reminders, and you will be able to show everyone the great products you offer.

Do Customer Promotions Pay?

Motivation is the little extra nudge of encouragement that people need to take the next step in the right direction. You are probably continually looking for ways to motivate your customers to buy or try new products or motivate your sales force to increase your sales. There are ways to motivate both your staff and your customers to help your sales figures increase; however, you need to make sure that your budget will benefit and not break from these incentives and promotions.

Although promotions can certainly be useful, be sure your business is benefitting from the promotion. Promotions are not effective if all you are accomplishing is reducing the profit margin on products you would have sold anyway. If you do run a promotion, make sure it is for a new product that you are offering or one for a product in which you truly want to increase sales with new customers. A promotion isn’t effective if you are only selling a popular product at a reduced rate.

According to marketer Gary Sanchez, “Promotions should be a well-planned, seasonally relevant focus on themes or solutions wrapped around your products that your customers will take note of and value, and that prospects will be enticed to try for the first time.” Promotions should encourage your current customers to try new products and help prospective see enough value in your products that they want to give them a try too.

Will all sales promotions be effective? No. But, here are five simple tips to help ensure your next promotion is a success:

1. Target Audience
Studies have shown that over time loyal customers spend nearly 10 times the amount spent by average customers. Do you focus your efforts on existing customers or do you try to recruit new customers with your promotion? Perhaps you could offer a loyalty program to those customers who have been with you for the long haul.

2. Measurable Goals
As with all marketing goals, you need to have goals that are more specific than just to increase sales. Do you want to increase sales of a specific product? Do you want to see more customers start using more of a program like the Gain Smart® Stocker Program? Write out your goals where you will see them daily and design your promotion around those goals.

3. Limited Availability
Behavioral psychologists have found that human beings tend to assign greater value to things they perceive as being scarce. If your promotion runs for half the year, is it really a promotion? But, if your promotion runs for 30 days, your customer is more likely to jump at the chance to take part. If part of the promotion is a giveaway, and the promotion states, “while supplies last” customers will take part in the promotion earlier on to be sure they get the added value of the promotion.

4. Sufficient Promotion

Be sure to let your customers know that you are having a promotion. This might be through your regular advertising efforts, in-store signage, email or on your Facebook page. Remember, you are trying to make added profit during this promotion, so adding a lot of extra advertising probably isn’t the best idea. Studies have shown that email marketing is a low-cost, effective tool. Emails to interested parties have a very high rate of return, with 44% of email recipients making at least one annual purchase based on a promotional email.

5. Value
When the promotion is over and the customers have made their purchase, will they find value in the goods or services they bought? Be sure the promotion you are offering has value to the customer now and will in the future.

After your promotion ends, refer back to your intended goal to determine if it was met. Did you increase sales of the particular product you were trying to promote? Did you get loyal customers to try new products they weren’t currently using? If you met your goal, and calculated a positive ROI, your promotion was a success!

Online sources:

https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2015/08/5-key-elements-successful-sales-promotion.html|
https://www.garyasanchez.com/9-benefits-of-sales-promotions

Good Things Come in Small Packages!

Routine is a comfortable place to be. Most of us probably follow the same pattern every morning as soon as the alarm goes off, and if we miss a step, our entire morning is just off. We often sit in the same pew at church, park in the same space at work and usually order the same toppings on our pizza any time we call for carryout. Your customers probably have a routine when it comes to ordering and buying products too. But have you suggested they try something new or different?

Changing a routine isn’t always necessary, but sometimes it can make life better. Most of the BioZyme® products are developed to be a proactive way to manage animals’ health and well-being. But let’s face it, animals will stress, become sick and go off feed, and when that happens their owners are looking for a quick-fix. That is where the products like Vita Charge® Liquid Boost or Paste or Vitalize® Equine or Dog Recovery Paste can help. These small pack products are easy to use, low risk and have a quick response time. Animal owners might not always think of these smaller items as time savers that can help their animals quickly, but remember good things do come in small packages.

If you have these small pack products on-hand, but don’t feel like your customers know the benefits of using them or if they even exist, it is time to get creative in your education and marketing efforts. Consider bundling like-items together for a slightly reduced price. You might bundle a tube of Vitalize® Equine Recovery Paste with the Vitalize High Performance or Vitalize Protein Pellets. Is it summer show season in your area? Bundle a tube of Climate Control with Sure Champ®, and ask your customers to report back to you with the positive results they have experienced after trying Climate Control.

In addition to bundling the products for a reduced price, be sure to display the small pack products in a prominent location. If it is farrowing, lambing or calving time, you could create a catchy display that features the Vita Charge® line: Liquid Boost, Recovery Paste and Neonatal, all near the front of the store. Be sure to have some point of sale information close by, and make sure all employees know how to describe and discuss the benefits of the products.

Offer a promotion. Everyone appreciates a good deal, so offer a limited time, promotion to make sure your customers know about these small pack products. This can be done several ways – online, in conjunction with an open house or producer meeting, or in-store. Be sure to put extra effort in promoting the products, their benefits and how they complement other products your customers are currently using.

In addition to being easy to use and having multiple applications, these products are low risk. The Vita Charge and Vitalize products are all-natural nutritional supplements that show no negative drug interaction, but are still very compatible with antibiotics. These products are safe because customers can’t give their animals “too much.”

Finally, as the dealer selling these products and helping your customers, you are also helping your bottom line since these products also offer a higher profit margin.

It might seem more advantageous to sell Stress Tubs and 50-pound bags of supplements as we are so accustomed to focusing on tonnage, but don’t forget to suggest these smaller items to your customers too as the profit margin and benefit to your customer makes it all worthwhile. There are small products for every specie and every season, so your customers should always have some of these in their feed room.

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.

Featured Dealer: Fayette AG Services

Fayette AG Services Finds Opportunities for Growth

It’s no surprise that Fayette AG Services has operated successfully for 43 years in Northwest Alabama. Although its name has changed during the years, the full-service farm store listens to its customer’s needs and wants, provides follow through and works to become knowledgeable about the products they offer.

Mike Renfroe, a salesman at Fayette AG, located at Fayette, Ala., was one of the first BioZyme® dealers to complete the new Master Dealer Training Program that launched in June.

“I just wanted to know more about the products so we can better help our customers,” Renfroe said. “The Master Dealer training has helped me distinguish what mineral customers need for their programs at given times of year.”

Renfroe added that other employees are hoping to complete the Master Dealer Training, as soon as all computer challenges are solved and will allow more than one person per dealership to participate. In the meantime, their staff is appreciative of the support and education that BioZyme provides.

“We get on the website pretty often to read up on products and learn more about the products we don’t know as much about,” Renfroe said. “BioZyme is a really good company when it comes to training and providing information. They are one of the better companies that we’ve dealt with.”

And although Fayette AG has a long history, their tenure as a BioZyme dealer is relatively short – just starting to sell the products in February of this year. Renfroe said they had customers who called and asked them about the BioZyme products. After doing some research and talking to ASM Rowdy Pope, Renfroe said they decided the products would be a good fit for their store.

The store carries a complete line of products, and has had satisfied customers feed each product line from Vitalize® equine to the VitaFerm® HEAT®.

“Once a customer tries one of these products, they rarely swap out and go back to another mineral program,” Renfroe said.

Their sales have reached nearly 100 ton since February, and their ultimate goal is to reach VIP Dealer status. Programs like the Master Dealer Training are helping them meet their goals so they can better equip themselves to sell the products their producers need.

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.