Ag Spectrum Associate from Ohio Knows How to "Sell the Sizzle"
On any given night in the winter, you can find Bill Barga wearing black and white stripes and meandering into the gymnasium of a number of area schools around Rossburg, Ohio. Barga, an athlete himself, regularly referees local high school boys’ and girls’ basketball games.
Refereeing is just one of Barga’s many hobbies, however, Barga’s time is often spent working as an Associate for Ag Spectrum Company.
Much like the exciting tension-filled atmosphere that a crowd creates for a rivalry basketball game, Barga thrives on working with the same thing that makes doing business with Ag Spectrum special: the people.
In It to Win It
Before a basketball game’s tip-off, Barga sets the groundwork with each team. As he runs through the rules with each of the team captains and has them shake hands, he also reminds the players that both teams have the same motivation in common: winning. Rather than distinguishing himself as the ‘referee,’ Barga treats the players as friends and builds a relationship with both of the team’s captains.
“We all have to show respect to each other. When we all share the same understanding going into a game, we are able to work toward the same goals.”
Practice Makes Perfect
Similar to the approach he takes when he referees, when meeting with a new customer, Bill focuses on learning about the goals of an operation and what they foresee in the future. Barga doesn’t lead with the benefits the Maximum Farming System could have on their operation. Rather, he learns about the ins and outs of the operation, such as where they want to be in five years, if they want to grow, and even if they have a succession plan in place for the future.
By laying the groundwork and working to understand a grower’s motivation, Barga is better able to relate and build a relationship that could potentially lead to a sale.
As he drops in on a farmer to make a visit, his positive, happy personality is apparent.
“I like to show respect on all fronts when visiting customers. I’ll wash my truck, drive slowly down a lane, dress up, and always, always make sure to never wear sunglasses. I think it’s incredibly important for a customer to see my eyes. It creates a feeling of trust.”
Making a Play
By first understating the basics of a farmer’s operation he is able to deliver options, information and ideas that can help customers become more competitive, increase yield, and save, or even make, more money.
“Too many times we want to come in on the first cold call and market our products. Farmers aren’t ready for that. I usually introduce myself, leave my card, and let the grower know that I will be back.”
To some, it might seem risky not taking advantage of a farmer’s time, but it’s all part of the plan for Barga.
“I’m old school. I never lead with products and don’t talk about Ag Spectrum to start with, I just talk about that person. Even if I don’t have a place to be, I’ll stop in and let a farmer know that I just have a few minutes to spare.”
Barga knows that ‘how’ he sells matters much more than ‘what’ it is he’s selling. The uniqueness of the Maximum Farming System allows Barga to educate his potential customers about the importance of applying the right nutrition at the right time, in the right form, while still challenging their thinking.
When Barga comes back for the second appointment and is prepared to talk about the Maximum Farming System, Barga sells growers on the excitement of the System. He’s able to show growers the scientific benefits that the Maximum Farming System can have on their yield, soil health and bottom line, but he’s also selling the enthusiasm.
Games are Won in the Off-season
A true team player, Barga has developed Maximum Farming clients that range from grain farmers to wheat and alfalfa farmers, to diversified vegetable producers. He has also had great success working with dairy, beef, swine, and poultry livestock producers.
In the peak season, Barga can be seen visiting customers frequently from planting through harvest, but he chooses to take his business-relationships a step further. Barga credits the time he spends with his customers in the off-season as some of the most valuable.
“I like to know what’s going on with my guys. I’ll make notes about events they have coming up so I can ask about them later. I think the customers really appreciate it when I ask about their daughter’s prom, or their trip to Mexico. It builds trust.”
Benching a Player
A 17-year veteran of Ag Spectrum Company, Barga’s upbeat personality has allowed him to build successful relationships with growers and win many sales. However, he’s not afraid to walk away from a potential grower who is not the right fit for the System.
“If I sit down with a guy and walk through the goals he has for his operation and find that in the end, we don’t see eye to eye, I let him know. It wouldn’t work for either of us to work for a cause we don’t both believe in. I’ll be the first to say, I don’t think this is going to work.”
Bill’s perception and ability to read people is a skill he’s learned over the years while working for Ag Spectrum.
“I have lost customers over the years for several reasons. Sometimes the System just isn’t the right fit for them. Other times I’ve had customers who have had other issues to deal with. I want to be there for them even in those hard times.”
Because of Barga’s ongoing support, willingness to help, and encouragement he provided his client even after terminating the use of the Maximum Farming System, Barga was able to gain that customer back.
“It’s important to show (your clients) you respect them. I knew he was going through some tough times and I wanted to be there for him as a friend and support him along the way. Even though he wasn’t using the System and was no longer a client of mine, I still wanted to be there.”
Preparing for Next Season
“Enthusiasm and passion are the driving factors for what we do as salespeople for Ag Spectrum. We’re able to make a difference in a grower’s operation, health of their farm and longevity of success that allow future generations to continue a farm’s legacy.”
Although the memories of specific games or growing seasons might become fuzzy, the lessons learned and the friendships gained along the way will always remain the same.