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Bull Seller’s Study Guide – Tips for Optimal Marketing

Published February 9, 2020

Many news articles about bull buying season focus on what buyers can do to make the best selections possible, but what about those who market and sell bulls – how can they be more successful? Bull sellers may define their success by the success of their customers in reaching their herd goals. Bob Weaber, professor and extension cow-calf specialist at Kansas State University, explains that sellers can be top marketers to their clients by following three main steps: (1) Start well before sale day; (2) It’s a matter of need, not want; and (3) Have good, knowledgeable help available to your customers.

1. Start well before sale day.

If you are marketing bulls, the best thing you can do is develop solid relationships with your customers, and focus heavily on talking to customers before sale day, Weaber said. Bull sale season is a busy time of year for a variety of reasons. In addition to developing relationships and getting ready for your sale, you may also be in the midst of calving season, too. However, building relationships is what keeps you in business.

As a seedstock vendor, the more knowledge you have about your customer’s operation, the better job you can do directing them to the right genetics, Weaber said. Even consider taking a visit to the customer’s operation to visualize their environment. Have conversations with customers throughout the year on what’s going well and what they are working to improve – from breeding systems to management tactics. That will make the next sale day an easier, more productive day for all involved.

“Get to know how your genetics are working in their program, what their marketing goals are, if goals have changed and what environmental constraints they have,” Weaber said. “Is it time consuming to visit the (customer’s) farm? Yes. Is it expensive? Maybe. Is it worthwhile? Definitely.”

Most of the time, you will know what bulls are going to be in your sale months in advance. Before customers get the sale catalog, talk to them about ones you’ve picked out that may work well for their operation, based on prior conversations.

 “Ultimately, make sure the best genetics get to the customer to meet his or her goals,” Weaber said. “Make sure you are meeting and even exceeding customer demand. Our customer satisfaction goes up if we have been engaged in their decision.”

2. It’s a matter of need, not want.

Customer need can come from a variety of angles and include items such as genetic improvement, management improvement and even rethinking crossbreeding strategies. Engaging with customers to meet their needs also helps better inform your own seedstock production decisions; you will be able to understand your customers better and be able to ask and answer the question, “What genetics are you going to build and sell in the future?”

Perhaps your customer is new and wants to explore a different breed or composite hybrid bull into his or her operation to improve performance through crossbreeding. Before deploying a new breed into the operation, customers may need help understanding the genetic composition of their current cow herd.

Ask them, “What does the last six or so years of their bull purchases look like?” If those are all the same breed, they have a large percentage of that breed in the herd. Think about what your bulls can offer to improve heterosis. Also, talk to your commercial customers about their herd size and managerial constraints before recommending a crossbreeding system.

Weaber said breed complementarity in a cow herd means mixing appropriate British and Continental breeds together for profitability. Help commercial producers stay open-minded and understand what breeds offer.

“A breed in 1985 is not the same breed in 2020. All breeds have changed over the years in terms of calving ease performance, birth weight, weaning weight, yearling weight, milk and carcass,” Weaber said. “All the important traits we have EPDs for have genetic trends that are favorable in about every major U.S. beef breed.”

It’s important to know the benefits of your breed and how it contributes currently to commercial beef production.

“Sometimes, it may mean I don’t have a product to best fit my customer’s needs at that time,” Weaber said. “Understanding that provides you an opportunity to build a product that does, or give them good advice to find a spot they can go purchase that product.”

“If you direct a customer to another supplier for a bull, don’t write that person off,” he added. “Front-load that relationship by communicating with the other vendor about your customer to make sure your customer gets what he or she really needs. Follow up on your recommendation, and continue engaging that client; keep them as your customer.”

3. Have good, knowledgeable help available to your customers.

In theory, as a bull seller you want to get to know your customers and their needs prior to sale day, but realistically, sometimes the first chance you have to talk to new customers may be the day of the sale.

Seedstock producers need help, particularly on sale day. If you have potential new customers show up on sale day, you likely won’t get to have one-on-one conversations in the midst of everything else happening. Having a few others with intimate knowledge of the bulls on-site or others to free you up will help tremendously in intercepting customers and assisting them, Weaber said. Bull buyers who have a good first experience will likely be repeat customers.

For more information about marketing tools for Limousin breeders, visit the marketing tab at https://nalf.org.

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Limousin cattle deliver to your bottom line. With superior genetics, a simple crossbreeding plan and state-of-the-art selection tools, the Limousin breed will serve profit-minded cow/calf producers. In today’s competitive markets, taking advantage of all available opportunities is key. The Limousin breed offers a variety of options from Fullblood to Purebred to the Lim-Flex® hybrid (Limousin x Angus cross) to match your program’s needs and market goals. Crossbreeding for the right blend of muscle, maternal ability and profit is easy with Limousin seedstock.

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