May 18 2017 08:00 AM

Dairymen and women appreciate a salesperson that respects their time and needs.

There are some salespeople who call on our farm that I don’t mind seeing. Then there are those that I avoid. Which one do you want to be?

As dairy farmers, we depend on our suppliers, vendors, and dairy support industries to help keep our farm operating as smoothly as possible. I know that I need to use the most innovative, cost saving, and magical product that you have discovered, but is it right for me?

Let me give you some tips to get me to listen to your sales pitch and possibly buy the “Bypass to the Udder Magic Unicorn Horn Supplement” or whatever it is your company sells.

1. Call for an appointment. Yes, we operate a dairy, so we are almost always at the farm, but usually we’re busy trying to catch up on the unending list of chores.

2. If it is a feed additive, no matter how great you tell me it is I am going to let my nutritionist assist me in deciding if we will use it. You might as well call my ruminant nutritionist before you talk to me. I pay people who specialize in feeding cows, as I am busy managing cows, crops, and people.

3. If I decide to use your product on a regular basis, am a loyal customer, and pay on time . . . do not let me run out of product. I use the same amount of pre- and postdips, inflations, pipeline cleaning chemicals, feed, calf milk, and so forth every month. Yes, I got busy and should have called to remind you, but I forgot. I was delivering a calf, milking, had a cow with milk fever, was gone fishing, or I don’t know what. Remind me to check, or check for yourself, but don’t let me run out of supplies that we cannot function without.

4. Over the years, the salespeople who I have enjoyed talking to the most exhibit a few key traits. They seem to want me to succeed as well or ahead of their own company. (For example, I’ve had a salesman tell me that I can buy a part cheaper at the local hardware than the one they sell.) I remember that he told me that, and now I buy all the other parts I need from him and not a competitor.

5. My favorite salespeople arrive on time, with a smile, and maybe with some biscuits or an offer to take me to lunch occasionally. They provide accurate information in a simple format that I can understand. They have already gotten all the info to my consultants and discussed it with them first. They respect my time and do not overwhelm me with a bunch of documentation that I probably will trash as soon as they leave. Finally, they follow up on any questions I had in a timely manner.

Caitlin and Mark Rodgers

Mark and Caitlin Rodgers are dairy farmers in Dearing, Georgia. Their “Father and Daughter Dairy Together” column appears every other Thursday on HD Notebook. The Rodgers have a 400-cow dairy that averages 32,000 pounds of milk. Follow their family farm on Facebook at Hillcrest Farms Inc.