My thoughts on the Ag Sales CDE: Tips from the Judge's side of the table

July 07, 2012

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.

What Your Students Should Know for the Sales Call 

  1. What are you selling?  (Know your product!)
  2. How do the features benefit the customer?  (What would the customer gain from using this product?)
  3. Who is my customer?  (Are they a business owner? A producer? A homeowner? Why would they use this product?)
  4. What questions can I ask to determine the customer’s needs/wants?
  5. What objections could a customer have?
  6. How can I ask for the customer’s business?  (How can you close the sale?)

What Should My Students Practice?
- shaking hands and repeating the customer's name 
- making eye contact 
- their opening dialog
- asking questions
- restating customer's needs 
- stating features and benefits in different ways
- asking questions that get a "yes"
- sharing testimonials (both personal and from 'previous customers')
- rephrasing and answering objections
- closing the sale and thanking the customer

Make Sure Your Students Are Not Afraid To...
ask the customer to repeat their name
- say "if I understand correctly, what you are saying is…"
- ask for the sale: "so would you like to place an order today?"  (known as a trial close)

Remember the most important part of preparing for the CDE is practice.  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.  Good Luck!



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