The Ag Sales CDE is one of those contests that is hard to participate in just from reading the CDE guidelines. Much like the Parliamentary Procedure CDE, until you've seen it demonstrated you don't really "get it". However a few suggestions can go a long way towards taking your team from just showing up to placing.
These tips apply not only to the individual sales practicum but also to the team activity. The team activity requires the students to perform the same skills in their group presentation to the judges.
Practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more. Have your students practice with each other and as many different types of people you can rope into taking 5 minutes to participate in a mock sales call. You might be surprised how many other students, teachers, administrators, and Alumni are more than willing to help your students practice. One advantage of the individual sales practicum is that it doesn't take any special knowledge to be the customer because the salesperson will be asking the questions. Also, unlike Parliamentary Procedure, you don't have to have all the team members together to practice. Yes, it helps, but practices can be limited when you try to make everyone's schedules mesh every time. So make the most of a spare 15 minutes here and there and just practice parts of the sales call. One time it might just be the opening dialog and another you might see how many questions your student can list in 2 minutes. A little bit adds up over time.
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Being an Ag teacher means you're hard on stuff. You don't mean to be. It just comes with the territory. Dirt, dust, sweat, rain, manure, students...none of these things mix well with technology. Over the years, my cell phones have succumbed to a number of hazards associated with being an Ag teacher. So when I finally got an iPhone this Christmas, I wanted to make sure to protect this valuable little gadget from the hardships that my other phones have endured.