Why you Should get Rid of Every “Veteran” in Your Company

- Rod Osthus

If you’ve been reading the handwriting on the wall, you know that every ag company is under attack — not by their competitors, but by their own customers. Never in the history of agriculture have so many farmers been encouraged to turn against their suppliers and take more control of what they buy.

Farmers are being told that everything they need for growing a crop is a commodity — from the seed to the sales rep who calls on them. If they’re allowed to continue this path of insanity, the only difference between brands in the future will be price.

That entire attitude is a result of having too many veteran sales reps calling on farmers. When I say veterans, I’m not talking about the few, highly successful reps who’ve been selling for a number of years. I’m talking about the many field sellers who’ve been mentally dead since the day they graduated high school or college. These veterans, regardless of how long they’ve been on the job — one day or 20 years — decided to stop learning and changing since graduation. Veterans are a huge liability to their company, not an appreciating asset. No wonder customers see them as irrelevant to their businesses.

Rookies, on the other hand, never lost their desire to learn. Whether they’re in their first day on the job or have been selling for years, they know they need to constantly challenge themselves if they expect to be successful. Rookies deliver so much value that customers would never even think they were smart enough or forward thinking enough to take the leadership role when buying inputs. Rookies have their customers so focused on maximizing yields that cutting costs is not their first priority. Rookies would never allow their own value to drop so low that customers would want to push them away and stop seeking their help in growing their business.

How many veteran sellers do you have? You can’t afford to have any. Make sure ALL of your salespeople are being trained as if it’s their first day on the job. Make sure ALL of your salespeople believe they’re the “weakest sales rep in the training room” so their only focus is getting better.

And finally, ask yourself the only question that matters to your company’s success: are my salespeople 10-year veterans, or are they simply reliving their rookie year the 10th time?