How to Sell to Farmers…

In this week’s post, Lorna Sixmith outlines the dos and do-nots for those hoping to make a sale with a farmer (or his wife!).

It started out as ten tips and then became 14 or 15 – I promise I can count!

    • Never ever ask ‘is the boss about’ of the farmer’s wife. She will either snarl ‘you’re looking for her’ or tell the farmer if he places an order with you, he’ll never eat a hot dinner in that house again.
    • Never call to the house at mealtimes. It might be the only time a busy farmer gets to see his kids in the day and have a decent chat with his wife over a cup of tea. She’ll be looking daggers at you and the order placed will be negligible.
    • If the farmer invites you into the house for a cuppa out of the cold wind while you chat about fertiliser and feed, always accept. He’ll be more inclined to place an order while he gets his first sit down of the day.
    • Even if your boots look clean and the kitchen floor looks like it hasn’t been washed for a month, take off your boots. The farmer’s wife will appreciate the gesture and she’ll get around to washing the floor before your next visit.
    • Never say ‘any chance of a cup of tea’ – as you’ll get a lukewarm cup. Wait till you’re asked and you might get a slice of cake with the cuppa.
    • If you’re asked ‘would you like a cup of tea?’ always reply with a ‘Yes’. Don’t ask for coffee instead as you are probably in a tea-drinking house and will have to avert your eyes as she searches the cupboard for a jar of Kenco (or even worse, Maxwell house) and bashes at hardened granules before making a watery cup of coffee for you – which you will have to drink every drop after all her efforts.
    • Never talk about other farmers. If you want to relay a story, say it happened to an farmer from X direction. If you talk about other farmers, it suggests you’ll also talk about the farmer you are chatting to – you might never get another order! (Unless of course, the farmer you are selling to, relies on you for gossip.)
    • Never park your car outside the house for over an hour, especially if the farmer is known to be away at the mart – no matter how good the chat, tea and cake are. You’ll set tongues wagging amongst the neighbours!
    • Never poke around in a farmers shed thinking he isn’t there, looking for evidence of products purchases from your competitors.
    • If there is another car there, don’t hang around. It’s good etiquette not to wait until the rep there before you has left.
    • Know your product – don’t just hand the farmer a leaflet when he asks you a questions about your product.
    • Don’t refer to your BSc as if you are a fountain of knowledge – the farmer you are chatting to might just have a PhD in it!
    • My husband is of the opinion that all reps should phone for an appointment. Mind you, when you’re a dairy farmer, they all seem to call on the day the milk cheque arrives in the bank accounts.
    • Know which door you should call to – the front or the back. In some houses, the back door won’t have a doorbell and you’ll be knocking for ages in the hope of being heard so go to the front door. In others, the only person who goes to the front door is the priest/clergyman so you’ll give the farmer’s wife a heart attack if you knock at it.
    • If you want farmers to use your product instead of the product they are used to using, be prepared to give away a free sample. Don’t say ‘Would you like to try x’ and be surprised if they don’t buy it when they reply ‘Yes, I’d love to’ and you refuse to send a free sample.
    • Don’t wear a really sharp suit and immaculately polished shoes, especially if you look about 17. You’ll look like you’re fresh out of sales school with no practical experience whatsoever. At least, wear a ‘farmerish’ coat over the suit.
    • Don’t rubbish your competitors!

This is a true story – we recently had a new rep call selling dairy detergent. He was smoking in his van and talked with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He was selling a dairy hygiene product and yet the outside of the containers were dirty. He spilled some on the yard while trying to show Brian how good it was. When Brian said he would have to think about it, he said he f**king wouldn’t come back. Who on earth would hire someone like that?!

I hasten to add that all of the reps that call here are lovely, all male as it happens and perfect gentlemen (or maybe they are just scared of us!).

What do you think? Am I being ridiculous or do you have any to add?

Lorna Sixsmith is an Irish farmerette and writes at a blog of the same name. She is also a social media consultant and trainer at Write on Track and We Teach Social as well as co-organising Blog Awards Ireland. Living on a dairy farm with her husband and two children for the past 11 years, Lorna is currently writing a book ‘Would You Marry A Farmer? Confessions of an Irish Farmerette’. With plans to self publish, pre-orders for the book can be placed on her Fundit campaign (http://www.fundit.ie/project/funders/novel-would-you-marry-a-farmer) during the next month. Lorna will feature on AgriLand.ie each week.

 

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