Questions Determine Your Success

By Kirk A. Augustine
March, 2015

The NCBA Trade Show was a huge success this year. The record attendance seemed to carry confidence from strong beef prices. Record milk prices have buoyed attitudes and confidence from a dairy perspective as well.

Yet discussions at the various “packaged goods” manufacturer booths seemed lackluster at times.

Reflecting on this perception, I believe the lackluster discussion might be a reflection of how well the booth personnel questioned people as they came to their trade show booth. Many companies use activities, registrations or drawings to start a conversation. While a good draw, converting the discussion to a product or solution topic can be challenging.

Granted, I did not stand in a booth for 7-8 hours while traffic peaked and waned. However, I believe being a bit more interested in the customers’ or prospects’ objectives up front might have yielded more action beyond the free pen, hat or other handouts. I was pleased to hear representatives thank visitors for stopping by.


Gain knowledge
Pat Malone often references the highest decision that can be made for that conversation. In most examples this re- quires we manage ourselves to get out of our own way. As this year unfolds, successes will be determined by ask- ing open-ended questions that engage our customers and prospects to become involved in a discussion that helps you gain knowledge of their decision processes and pro- duction objectives. Perhaps you’ll discover a need you did not know they even had.

Below are some questions you might consider as you plan your calls during the first trimester of 2015.


Attitude of discovery
Our industry continues to face changes from consolidation and ownership. Yet, many of the challenges of interacting with cus- tomers and prospects remain the same. Our industry remains dependent on day-to-day transactional interactions. OTC, ethical, non-traditional, dealers and catalogs alike all require we effectively engage customers in making the transactional choices that – especially in the livestock segments – help them maintain the health and productivity of their animals or clients’ animals.

My grandfather often said, “The wisdom is in the questions, not in the answers.” Sales techniques, promotions and marketers’ math will never replace the value of a question asked well with an open attitude of discovery.



Did you have a good 2014?

Which segment/portion of your business grew the most in 2014?

Do you actively promote prevention with your clients or customers?

Which prevention activities did your customers or clients positively respond to in 2014?

Which parasiticide are you going to use in 2015?

Do you use more than one parasite prevention protocol? Can you share why and how they differ?

Do you need any antibiotics while they are on special?

Looking ahead four to eight weeks, let’s discuss your antibiotic use and the current promotions I have available.

Are you still going to implant this year?

What are your strategies for utilizing growth promotants this year? With steers? With heifers?

Did you get a good calf crop this year?

Where do you plan to make adjustments in order to improve your conception-to-weaning ratios in 2015?

Topics: Industry Insights


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