Sales Solve Everything

If you are going to survive in business, there is just one thing you need to master – sales. That’s right. You have a product or service that you offer, now get out there and sell it. That seems obvious, but there are definite steps to mastering the art of sales.

According to Entrepreneur.com, there are 10 traits that make a great leader. These traits, combined with the conviction-based selling technique, will attract customers and help you master your sales skills.

What qualities do leaders possess that make them master sellers?

  1. Confidence – They are sure about their skill/product, know its value and are proud of being associated with it.
  2. Commitment – Leaders are committed to their vision, mission or goal. They pursue it zealously, no shortcuts.
  3. Integrity – Leaders possess strength of character and maintain honesty with all stakeholders – organization, employees, vendors and customers.
  4. Above par soft skills – Leaders know how to treat people around them, be it business associates, partners or customers – they treat everyone courteously with utmost respect. Good leaders concentrate on building a relationship first, then on closing the sale.
  5. Continuous learners – Leaders are always on the lookout to update their knowledge and skill set and they share it openly with their associates. Not only this, they also seek feedback and if genuine, they implement it.
  6. Target oriented – Leaders are very target oriented – they plan and execute as per the plan.
  7. Good listeners – They are very good listeners. They pick up on subtle cues and know without explicit communication when a deal can be pursued further or when they need to take a step back.
  8. Good communicators – Along with being good listeners, leaders are well versed with the art of making small talk. A leader effectively uses the ‘you attitude’ to put people at ease and gets them to voluntarily listen to what he has to say.
  9. Problem solvers – Leaders by nature are problem solvers. Instead of letting an issue foster, they deal with it on a priority to sort it out.
  10. Product and market knowledge – last but not the least, they have in-depth product knowledge and they know how the market in which they operate performs and where it is headed – i.e. along with the present they also have an eye on the future.

Instead of using a relationship-based selling technique or even transaction-based selling, leaders use the conviction-based selling method, which exhibits their passion toward their area of expertise, in our case animal nutrition. This creates a ‘pull’ effect; ‘an attraction’ toward the leader, creating a demand for his or her expertise, skills, services and products.

As you review the list of leadership skills that will help you master the art of selling, focus on the areas where you are the weakest. You should see gradual increases in your sales and the numbers grow in your checkbook.

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/249927

Asking Questions To Attract Their Attention

Often, we hear dealers say, “the products sell themselves.” But how do our products get sold to new customers or those who are a little skeptical? We need to know our customers’ needs and understand exactly what they are trying to achieve.

The best way to get to know your customer or a potential customer is to have a conversation with him or her. Discover what goals they have set forth and listen. You will likely need to lead this conversation because most people, especially in agriculture, don’t like to talk about themselves or share too much information. And, your questions will have to be more of a conversation than an interview, seeming more natural than just a list of predetermined questions you have with hopes to make a sale.

People don’t always know what they want. However, they usually know what they don’t want. Use these 10 questions to help you start a conversation to attract new customers to your business.

  1. When it comes to (segment of industry person is in) what is your biggest challenge or hurdle you face when trying to meet your goals?
  2. Which of your needs are not currently being met?
  3. What products/services do you value the most?
  4. How can the products/services you use be improved?
  5. What is one area of your business you need to improve on? And how can I help you make those improvements?
  6. What features of a product/service make you annoyed?
  7. Would you be willing to invest more in a product/service if you knew the ROI would be greater than what you are currently experiencing?
  8. What opportunities or benefits are you willing to pay more for?
  9. At what price does my product or service provide great value to you?
  10. Have you ever thought, “if only a company like ours could do [BLANK] for me, life would be so much easier?” …Tell me about BLANK and how you would find it useful.

Once you have a conversation started, really listen to the potential customer’s answers. Does it sound like you have a product or service that is needed by this person at this time?  Great! Then it is time to start talking about your products or services to make a sale. Don’t talk about products or services that aren’t relevant, but show that you genuinely care and respect the person’s needs and desires by telling them how you can help their operation. The number one thing that attracts new customers is showing respect and a genuine concern/interest in people.

February 2018 – Letters from Lisa

February is the month of romance, the basis of which is attraction. Of course, this stems from the fact that Valentine’s Day was on February 14. Valentine’s Day is celebrated in most countries and is often chosen as the perfect day to express love and commitment. Besides celebrating Valentine’s with our loved ones, I believe we should also celebrate it at work. Celebrating what one loves about work converts to a culture that is contagiously successful. So, if asked “What do you love about your job?” what would you say?

My top answer would be similar to the 40,000 employee respondents in a Tinypluse survey. I love the people I work beside. They are my family. While not surprising, this answer was given three times more often than the next most-cited reason (freedom, autonomy, flexibility). In my opinion, all of our family (employees, dealers and distributors) are a pleasure to work with and an amazing family. And yes, that means you. You are amazing! You are our family!

I love being a part of something that makes a difference. One of the most attractive parts of our company is our motto, “care that comes full circle.” We take care of the animals, and they take care of us. And I am not just referring to the food they provide. The rise of animal therapy is backed by increasingly serious science showing that social support–a proven antidote to anxiety and loneliness–can come on four legs, not just two. Animals of many types can help calm stress, fear and anxiety in young children, the elderly and everyone in between. Don’t laugh at me for sharing this amazing study from Time magazine:

A stressed-out group of adults were told to pet a rabbit, a turtle or their toy forms. The toys had no effect. But stroking a living creature, whether hard-shelled or furry, relieved anxiety. It worked for people regardless of whether they initially said they liked animals. By the way, rabbits love Vita Charge® Liquid Boost®.

I love that everyone on our team is so full of passion. This enthusiasm constantly motivates me to keep going even when I am getting tired. Our employees’ passion amazes me daily, but our customers’ passion motivates me, as I believe passion is the one thing our competition can’t copy. Watch out here we come!

I love the variety. Every day is different, and I get to interact with such varied groups of people assisting with opportunities, challenges and just trying to help out. This variety ensures that I am always learning, and I love to learn and to help others do the same.   

In the end this is love in my opinion – – –  You don’t feel alive once you get off work, you feel alive while you’re at your desk–or, maybe more precisely, in your flow. If you love your job, you hardly ever look at the clock and end the day surprised you have to go home now.

I would like to end by saying how much I love the future. The opportunity the future brings for all of us is mind boggling, but more importantly the opportunity it brings in the life of the animals we all love enough to stay up all night freezing to death or getting up early to haul them, braid them or blow them out (and yes I know what this is) is a gift from our Lord I can’t wait to watch unfold for our family.

Dealer Spotlight: Gro-Tex Supply

Relationships Grow this Texas Dealer

Building relationships and knowing how to best help their customers has been the system for success at Gro-Tex Supply in Groesbeck, Texas. The family-owned BioZyme® dealership that includes brothers Ty and Cody deCordova and their cousin Keith Rand, have formed a partnership that has sold 246 tons in their first six months of business.

Ty had seen Alan Lee, Director of National Sales – South, at some Superior Livestock sales in the spring and early summer. Alan tried to convince Ty to become a BioZyme dealer or at least try a few of the products. But, Ty, already busier than he wanted to be, said he did not have time to add one more “job.”

“That’s when my cousin Keith started talking to me about the products and said he was interested in being a dealer,” Ty said. “My brother and I know a lot of people in the cattle business, and Keith does a lot of the leg work, so we make a great partnership.”

The deCordova family also owns and operates the sale barn in Buffalo. Ty is a rep for Superior Livestock Auction, and he said his family helps market a majority of their BioZyme customers’ calves. Never having used the products before mid-2017, Ty said they are now big believers in VitaFerm® Concept•Aid® and HEAT®, and have their cow herd on those products during the appropriate seasons. 

Due to their hectic schedules and size of customers, marketing to those herds that have 500-2500 cows, Gro-Tex relies heavily on customer testimonials and word-of-mouth to help sell the products. They also don’t have to control inventory because they have none on hand. Most of their orders are for truckloads of product going directly to one customer at a time.

“There might come a day when we keep some products around, but for now, this is the more efficient way for us to do business.  Some of our customers are a little way away from us, so having them order a large quantity at a time is good for them and us,” Ty said.

Ty said their biggest seller has been Concept•Aid, and customers have been pleased with the results. One Brahman operation jumped their conception rates from 70% to 92% after making the switch to Concept•Aid. Although they have primarily focused on the cattle sector, he said there are several large horse operations in the area, and their goal is to start marketing Vitalize® to those horse enthusiasts.

“The easiest way to sell the product is to know the people you are dealing with. It all comes back to relationships. Know who to target. Know how to help them, and know who will accept your help,” he said.

Develop A System to Market Your Business

Often, we hear or read the words “marketing plan” and we automatically think of print advertising, signage, social media, radio spots and more. And yes, all those channels are important to having a successful way to reach your customers with your message. However, have you thought about individual plans for each product segment? You’re not going to market a mineral program for a cow-calf producer the same way you market supplies and feed for a small-scale poultry producer.

Think about each product segment of your business. Perhaps you are an on-farm BioZyme® dealer, and mineral and supplement programs are the products you market. Split those products into the various species you represent, and then separate them again by the time(s) of year each product is relevant.

If you have an actual store front, divide your products by larger categories – feeds by species, minerals and supplements, fencing supplies, tools, bedding, tack, show supplies, etc.  Once you have each of these categories determined you can move to the next step.

Regardless of dealer type or the kinds of products and services you offer, you need to know your profit margin and the potential for growth in each of the categories. Once you know that, determine which areas you want to grow your business, and focus your promotion and marketing efforts toward those. Perhaps the most important factor to consider when planning your marketing program is your budget and your return on investment. According to a webstrategies.com article, most businesses spend 7-12% of their total revenue on marketing strategies. And an ideal ROI for your marketing spend is 5:1. You should see $5 of income for every $1 invested.

Once you know which products to focus on, determine what time of year and method of promotion you will use to market each segment. If cattle producers in your area are going to wean in May, focus marketing efforts in April on the VitaFerm® Sure Start® Weaning Program. You know that baby chicks will arrive in the spring, so perhaps you want to have a big promotion for poultry feed and Vita Charge® Liquid Boost® in the month of March to prepare people for chick pick-up.

After you plan your marketing calendar, decide which methods of marketing are most cost effective for each product line you plan to promote. For example, you know that the primary users of the Sure Champ® line are younger people who are avid social media users. Promote those products via social channels, and spend minimal marketing dollars. If you have a new product or big promotion, it might be wise to invest in a direct mailing piece like a post card or flyer. Invoice stuffers are another great form of targeted advertising because you know exactly which customers are going to see which message.

Although many companies focus a majority of their marketing on digital efforts, it is still important to think about those making the buying decisions in our industry – those older than 58 years old – who might not be connected daily to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Marketing with print and radio mediums are still good investments in agriculture.

Get your marketing system in place to promote your business. Decide which goods and services give you the greatest ROI and focus on those products. Determine your marketing budget and which platforms will work the best to share your message. And tell everyone about the great products and customer service you provide.

Systems That Lead To Profit

It’s the American dream – own your own business and work for yourself. But don’t let that dream become a nightmare when you are working 18-hour days and then laying awake at night wondering if you are going to turn a profit this month. Yes, owning a business takes hours of effort, but make sure that your effort pays off by posting a profit.

According to Patricia Sigmon, author of the book “Six Steps to Creating Profit,” two-thirds of small businesses either didn’t post a profit last year or did not increase their profit from the year before. Let’s look at how strategizing your business systems will help you turn a profit and grow your business.

Evaluate Operating Procedures. The key to increasing revenue is to increase sales and decrease expenses. Think about up-selling or cross-selling or bundling products to increase sales. To decrease expenses, examine all recurring costs to see if there is something you can eliminate or cut back on. Do you really need an extra full-time employee during certain days or hours? Could a part-time employee get the same amount of work accomplished?

Stay Visible and Connected. Using the marketing strategies you have already put into action, keep your business name top-of-mind, especially when you have direct competition in the area. Use signage, advertising and social media to stay connected with your customers and potential customers. If there is an agricultural event in the local area, consider having a trade show booth for maximum personal exposure.

Maximize your Cash Flow. This might be the most important and yet most challenging step to getting your system to turn a profit. Cash is what keeps your business thriving, but so many people like to be billed, only paying once a month. Offer small discounts to customers who pay cash upon delivery of their products. Another way to manage your cash flow is to control your inventory. Excessive inventory that sets in a backroom or warehouse for weeks at a time is money that isn’t moving.

Streamline Management Costs. Are your employees reaching their highest potential? How much are you owed in accounts receivable? How many new sales leads have you generated this week? These are all questions you should be able to answer at the drop of a hat. If you can’t answer these questions immediately, you need to automate some of your systems, and provide employees access so you all are kept current on what is happening. An automated system, such as customer management software, will help you keep current on who your sales team has contacted, who needs to be contacted and what your financial status is.

Raise the Marketing Bar. Your marketing system must be one that is effective, immediate and measurable. Are you getting the best ROI for your marketing investment? Are you using effective marketing channels that reach your audience? Because of social media, today’s marketing initiatives are much more immediate than even five years ago. Start using social media to announce new products, new promotions or educational producer meetings. But be sure to measure the effectiveness of your marketing. Ask customers where they heard about a product if it is the first time they purchased it. Find out if you are spending your marketing budget wisely.

Make everyone a Salesperson. And a customer service rep. A stock person. An educator. A marketing guru. And a janitor. As technology replaces so many of the jobs humans used to have it is vital to cross-train everyone that works for you, and provide them with the skills they need to sell the products and provide customer service all at the same time. Teach them to make a pretty display, shoot a photo of that display and post it on your social media channels, all while waiting for the next customer to approach them. Teach them to stock shelves with products from the warehouse, but to be friendly and answer customer questions. If your employees are cross-trained, that means more flexibility for you.

Yes, the American dream can become reality, and it can even be profitable. Employ the proper sales, marketing and administrative systems and let your business work and grow for you. Not only will you start to see a profit, but your business will be more marketable in the future as an entire entity when and if you ever want to sell it.

5 Key Steps To Quality Customer Service

You know most of your customers’ names and greet them with a warm hello, but do you truly provide quality customer service? Although resolving issues and helping your customers find the products that best fit their needs is important, it is just one of the five key components to a system that provides great service.

In addition to contact resolution, here are four other customer service goals that will have an impact on your customers’ experiences:

Creating an emotional connection

Preventing future issues

Up-selling and cross-selling

Input into the Voice of the Customer (VOC) process

When businesses deliver on all five of these objectives, they often earn the reputation as the place to do business with. In a growing and competitive marketplace where brands must differentiate on experiences instead of product or price, customer service is one experience you can’t let slide. Let’s explore each of the five customer service goals.

First Contact Resolution. First contact resolution or getting a customer’s question solved within one communication touch is key. Studies steadily indicate that customer satisfaction will drop 10% or more if a customer must contact a business more than once to get its challenge solved. You might feel like your FCR is on point because once you answer a question, you don’t hear from that customer again. Remember, that is just one reason a customer doesn’t return. It could be that he or she is totally dissatisfied and decided to take business elsewhere. Be sure to track your customer communication and ALWAYS follow-up to make sure the questions were answered and challenges were resolved.

Emotional Connections. Product and price are not always the biggest factors in customer loyalty. Experiences are just as or more important, and 80-percent of consumers will pay more for an outstanding experience. Can you think of a time when you had a less than desirable customer service experience? Did the sales person or customer service rep sound like a broken record reading from their script, how they are sorry for the unpleasant experience, but they would take your contact information and relay it to the management? Nothing makes a customer feel less emotionally connected to a brand, product or business than feeling like a number rather than a person. Train your staff to form emotional connections with all customers. Replacing a faulty product now might cost you a little money, but losing a customer will cost you more in the long-term.

Preventing Future Issues. Being proactive is a better problem-solving method than being reactive. Making sure you have answered questions fully and provided enough information about the products you’re selling before the customer makes a final purchasing decision should help eliminate the need to solve further questions. Have you been selling Vita Charge® Stress Tubs to a producer prior to weaning? If so, you might also suggest the Vita Charge Drench to make sure the calves stay healthy from the get-go.

Up-selling and cross-selling. Once you feel like you truly know your customers’ goals and have formed an emotional connection with them, you can start up-selling and cross-selling. Growing your customer base is important for sure, but it is also just as important to make sure current customers realize the benefits of how all products work together. For example, you might have a customer that needs Sure Champ® for their show livestock projects heading to the winter jackpots or major stock shows. You might also want to suggest Sure Champ Climate Control or Vita Charge Liquid Boost® to help keep their animals healthy and eating on the road.

5. Voice of Customer (VOC) input. Getting input from your customers is vital to your business’s success. VOC can assist your business in making decisions about products, services and marketing strategies. There are various ways to gather input from your customers. You can have a short 2-3 question survey at the end of each transaction. Change up these questions monthly or quarterly to get more information from your customers. You can also email or mail a short survey out to your customers and attach a coupon or other incentive to the survey as encouragement for completing it. Pay attention to the VOC and analyze what your customers are saying on a regular basis. It will make them feel valued and can also add value to your business.

Follow these five steps for a quality customer service system. Your customers will feel valued, and you will see benefits to your business as well.

Source: https://www.astutesolutions.com/blog/articles/whats-the-point-5-key-objectives-for-customer-service-systems

January 2018 – Letters from Lisa

Ready or not, it’s a new year. I am not going to go into the whole New Year resolution thing, because I am no expert on that tricky little mind game. However, the other day when I was going through my usual late December routine reminding myself of my much-needed resolutions, I wondered why it is so hard to start “new” things.

Habits are powerful. We persist with many of them because we tend to give undue emphasis to the present. Trying something new can be painful: I might not like what I get and must forgo something I already enjoy. That cost is immediate, while any benefits — even if they are large — will be enjoyed in a future that feels abstract and distant.

In business, we often find ourselves in a similar catch 22 situation. We have no time to work on the business because we are too busy working in the business. And we can’t get away from the business because we haven’t developed the documented systems and processes needed to make such a concept a reality. So, we’re stuck in a business that has become a self-made trap. The only way out is to make time to create and document the business systems. And for most of us that means doing something new.

Business systems start with documented procedures and processes that allow your business to run without you. And yes, you read that correctly.

There are two major reasons why business systems are ignored by many small business owners:

Reason #1

Business systems are “back office” functions. Unlike the latest
marketing strategies, sales techniques or other highly visible aspects of business, good business systems are considered by some as boring. While building them may indeed be boring, the incredible power they give is anything but.

Reason #2

Business systems are neglected because of a perceived lack of urgency. When a business is small there are seemingly much more important things to do like sales, marketing and order fulfillment. With all of these important things vying for our increasingly scarce time, business systems seem like something that can be put off until later. However, just like any other accumulation of neglect over time, it rarely ends well.

There are numerous benefits to implementing new systems in business. Here are some of the most important:

It supports consistency

Consistency is one of the keys to delivering an excellent customer experience. You may not like the food at McDonalds, but one thing you can say about them is that wherever you go they deliver a very consistent experience.

It stimulates creativity

Ask any highly creative person how they continue to innovate and express themselves in new ways – they’ll tell you the key to their success is a commitment to trying new things. When you try new things, you put your brain into unique situations that force it to really think. This stimulates creativity, which eventually rubs off in other areas of your life. As a result, you begin to think about everything in a new light.

It makes money

When you and your staff don’t have to waste time and effort re-inventing the wheel each time, you improve efficiency and reduce costs.

It builds a valuable asset

It’s nice if your business gives you a great cash flow to fund your lifestyle. But wouldn’t it be fabulous if one day when you decided it was time, you could sell your business and have the biggest pay day of your life? You can only do this if you build the value of the business, and that can only happen if it is based on a system that can continue running without you.

Whether you realize it or not, you spend the majority of your day doing things you’ve already done hundreds or thousands of times before. Very rarely do you actually try new things. There are many benefits to doing new things – don’t cheat yourself out of them.

Featured Dealer: R&L Feeds

Adolescence can be a scary time in a young person’s life. High school is busy with homework, FFA and cheerleading. Serving as the Northeast Kansas FFA Vice-president, Kansas Angus Association Ambassador, working cattle with family and going to shows takes up a lot of time. Those activities might seem like enough to keep a junior in high school busy, but add in a BioZyme® dealership, and you’ve got the life of 16-year-old Eva Hinrichsen of R&L Feeds near Westmoreland, Kan.

Eva, whose parents, Ron and Lynne, have been BioZyme dealers for nearly five years, decided she would like to take over the dealership and make it her FFA SAE (Supervised Agriculture Experience).  She had total support from both her parents and her FFA advisor.

“My dad has been in sales pretty much his whole career and I always thought it was interesting,” Eva said. “I wanted to develop more sales skills and help with my business management skills and this is a different way to get an opportunity to do that.”

While it was slightly daunting for her at first, Eva said the positives definitely outweigh the bad. She has honed in on her sales skills and increased her product knowledge, which was the biggest challenge she faced.

“I was a little nervous at first because I was so young to be doing this,” she said. “I didn’t know how it was going to work out trying to talk to producers about changing their mineral. It was a little nerve-wracking. I just try to convince them to spend a little more money so they have a better return on their investment, and I think I’ve been pretty successful at that. It’s been a great opportunity, and it’s been fun to do that.”

Eva has set goals for both R&L Feeds and her SAE. For her business, she wants to increase the total tonnage she sells on annual basis and expand her product line. For her SAE, she wants the project to be successful and show some revenue. She said there is a lot of records to keep with both.

Initially nervous, Eva says she now talks to producers with ease, and that they have been pretty friendly. She takes advantage of the weekends and evenings to do most of her work for the dealership, and makes contact with a lot of her customers at the cattle shows she and her family compete at on weekends. One of her highlights so far, has been attending a new dealer orientation.

“Getting the knowledge has been beneficial to me owning cattle myself.  I went to Saint Joe and went to a class with other dealers, and I learned about the Amaferm® advantage and how that can increase the digestibility, and how gut health increases immunity. All that helps increase genetic potential. So that has been helpful for me when developing my own feed rations,” she said.

Eva encourages others who are interested in starting a business or becoming a dealer to find the courage to do so.

“It’s a little scary at first because you know you aren’t going to be as good as the trained, older dealers, but it is fun, and I’ve really enjoyed being able to do this.”

Courage to Compete

Competition is not a bad thing. In fact, competition is important to the overall growth of your business and has the potential to impact your bottom line. As more competition surfaces, it is important to tell everyone why they should buy their animal nutrition products from you, and to have the courage to set yourself apart from others in the business.

Be innovative.

Chances are you aren’t the only livestock nutrition company in your town or county. You are going to have to get creative in ways to draw those customers in to your business and keep them coming back. You will likely need to adopt new business services or marketing strategies to get customers to try your products. Is the local cattlemen’s organization having a meeting? Offer to provide part of the program in exchange for some time to talk about whatever
product best fits the season.

Provide service.

It’s one thing to sell an outstanding product. But how does your customer service stack up again the competition? Outstanding service will go a long way. Do you live in an area where there are “hobby” farmers who work a 9-5 job? Stay open late so they can pick up their products after work. Delivery is a big service that many offer, but making sure that the product is delivered on time to the proper place is important.

Know your customers.

Even though you think you are in the feed business, livestock business, equine business, nutrition business, the number one business that everyone is in is the “people” business. Building a relationship with your customers shows that you are genuinely interested in them and their program. Often business relationships evolve to friendships that evolve into long-standing customers. Know what products your customers need and when they will need them.

Tell your story.

It is ok to “toot your own horn.” You’ve got a good product, so let others know about it. This might be on your social media channels, a sign along the road or even at the local auction barn. Get out and spread the word, and encourage your customers to tell their neighbors if they like the products too. Positive peer reviews are a positive marketing tool.

Get motivated.

The fact you have competition should motivate you to be a better business person. You will need to be highly motivated to remain the better business owner. Be proactive, alert, creative and above all focused. Always think of better ways to satisfy your customers.

Staying competitive in the marketplace does take a certain amount of courage. But if you remain innovative, build relationships and provide outstanding customer service, you will edge out the competition.