Your Product Should Never Let You Down!

- Rod Osthus

Issues involving product performance are something no company wants to face, but when dealing with a living organism such as seed, they’re likely to occur someplace every year. When your varieties meet or exceed customer expectations, everyone is happy. However, when they disappoint, the customer and those who sold them usually blame the product.

Panic sets in and thoughts of salvaging the business from the customer who had the problem becomes the focus. No one wants to lose a customer, especially due to poor product performance. Losing a customer in that manner often results in permanent separation.

But why the panic? In my 22-plus years of selling seed to farmers, I never lost a customer due to poor product performance. Did I ever lose a buyer because my product didn’t perform to his liking? Yes, but the product was never the problem. I never purposely sold a bad product. It was always the more than 1,000 variables that distorted the expected performance of that living variety.

The combination of grower management and the environment the variety is exposed to produce more than 1,000 variables. Some years there is severe distortion, and other years there is little. The product is almost never to blame. The real problem is, who believes in their product enough to understand that?

Any negative attitudes toward inferior product performance are usually the result of inferior levels of belief in the product, and it starts with the salesperson. When salespeople have total belief in the varieties they sell, they instill that same belief in their customers. They make sure every farmer who buys their seed understands they have one job, and one job only: to protect the performance of the varieties they plant at all costs.

Ninety-nine and nine-tenths percent of product performance issues occur because someone stopped protecting that product during its life cycle. From proper planting to proper protection during the season and into harvest, the grower determines the final outcome.

The grower must understand, before ever planting your varieties, that he is the only one who can protect that variety’s ability to perform to its potential. Once the customer understands his role in ensuring varietal performance, you’ve given him the most powerful tool available to succeed in farming — the undying belief in the products he plants. That means no more product performance issues.