JUNE 2018 SEEDWORLD.COM / 47 I DIDN’T COIN that title, but when I saw it, it reminded me of the strategy many companies are using to prepare their salespeople for the 2018 selling season. I call it the Titanic Sales Strategy because it creates false confidence in their plans and in their salesforce’s ability to get sales in this highly competitive marketplace. Builders of the Titanic believed their ship was impenetrable because of the extra thick steel plating used to construct the hull. That attitude led to overconfi- dence in a ship, later found to have steel of inferior quality, that was never really capable of holding up to its assumed level of invulnerability. In like fashion, architects of the Titanic Sales Strategy believe they’re developing more competent field sellers by teaching them knowledge skills, in lieu of selling skills. Learning to analyze personality types, seg- ment customers, use digital field mapping programs, and develop business plans do not enhance a seller’s ability to write orders. Salespeople need to learn sales skills, so they know how to capture appointments, get more new customers, stay out of price fights, increase average order size, deflect competi- tor programs, and manage performance issues. They have to know how to control conversations, handle objections, protect margins, and keep customers long-term. How will your sales reps respond this year when farmers say, “It’s too early to order. I don’t know what I’m going to do yet?” What will they say when they’re asked for plot data, free seed for test plots, or simply say you’re too high priced. The Amateurs Built the Ark, Professionals Built the Titanic ROD OSTHUS R.C. THOMAS COMPANY PRESIDENT @RodOsthus • rod@rcthomas.com • rcthomas.com answer is 80 percent of the reps who call on farmers won’t know what to say to keep control of the conversation, there- fore, they’ll lose the sale. Jim Rohn said, “If you let learning lead to knowledge, you become a fool. If you let learning lead to action, you become wealthy.” Get your people into training on how to sell to farmers — training from someone who lives and breathes it every day with sales reps and their customers. Give your sales team the opportunity to win, by giving them the selling skills they need. Build them an ARK of assurance — a sales training system that, no matter how tough the selling environment, makes them highly competent and capable of getting the sale. LIKE A WELL-OILED machine, an efficient manufacturing line contains many moving pieces — welders, car- penters, painters, forklifts, flying sparks, docking semis, hammers and wrenches. A manufacturing line is only as healthy as its employees. That’s why a coordinated Safety Team is vital to the success and well-being of the people who make that business what it is. At Oliver Manufacturing, we take safety extremely seriously. So much so that we have a dedicated Safety Team that meets regularly to review proce- dures, precautions and possible compli- cations. From potential environmental hazards, such as red flag warnings to irresponsible use of company equipment or vehicles on and off the Oliver property, the Safety Team addresses a myriad of issues twice monthly. Oliver’s Safety Team is a collaborative group of seven to 10 employees con- cerned about factory and office affairs, alike. Thanks to the Safety Team’s efforts, Oliver Manufacturing in 2017 had a total recordable incident rate (TRIR) of 1.86, well below 2016’s industrial average of 5.0. But the team wasn’t always quite so effective. It’s important to structure such a council to make sure that the right people are man- aging safety rules and procedures. “Oliver’s always had a safety com- mittee,” says Brandon Dickinson, former Safety Team chairman. “But it’s evolved from a committee to a team over time. It used to be that newcomers or employ- ees with fewer responsibilities would be drafted onto the old safety committee automatically when monthly meetings were held in an upstairs office space above the factory floor. New recruits were never asked whether or not they wanted to be a part of the committee. Not much got accomplished.” Because those lower on the totem pole were forced onto the team, some people weren’t fit for or interested in the Develop the Team that Is Vital to the Success, Well-Being of Your Business CHRISTIAN BURNEY, OLIVER MANUFACTURING MARKETING ASSISTANT christian.burney@olivermanufacturing.com • olivermanufacturing.com job. This cast a gray cloud over the idea of safety. In February 2015, Dickinson and COO Joe Pentlicki restructured the safety com- mittee when it became the Safety Team. It is still working well. Dickinson sought participants who wanted to be team members. The restructuring led to more productive meetings, which began to churn out effective procedures to reduce safety hazards and promote safety awareness. Team members receive a small pay dif- ferential. This attracts people who really want to help and be a part of the team. In addition to keeping the workplace and workers safe, the collaborative effort demonstrated by Oliver’s Safety Team exemplifies the team’s real value from a B2B perspective. “The Safety Team keeps the factory current on our safety ratings,” says Dickinson. “Without this sustained rating, we cannot gain access to crucial customer sights/facilities.”