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Kenyon: Why I won’t be a salesman

Management: News Roundup from the April 2017 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

For years I have been teaching at schools and presenting at conferences and seminars. I’m not sure how that ever happened but I love the educational side of my business.

I teach about many different parts of my business. This includes grazing, fencing, economics, winter grazing, human resources, water systems and numerous other topics.

Throughout my travels, I have been asked many times to be a salesman. I’ve been approached to sell fencing equipment, water systems, supplements, and livestock supplies, just to name a few. Right from the start, I have always promised myself that I would never sell any products associated with my teaching.

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I could very easily be a salesman but there is one big reason why I don’t. Trust. Every relationship is based on trust. If I am recommending to producers to set up a grazing cell to improve their grazing management and then I turn around and offer to sell them the electric fence, how much trust is left?

If you have ever heard me speak, you have probably heard me say that what I am selling does not come in a box, a bag or a bottle. I am selling ideas. I am selling management. I am selling my mistakes.

Our industry is full of symptom solvers and Band-Aid fixes. If agriculture has a symptom, you can bet someone has come up with a quick fix to cover up the symptoms. I believe what we really need is long-term solutions to the problems.

We need to do our own research and be able to sift through the piles and piles of marketing and see what the real product is and does.

Do we really need this? Does it actually follow through with its claims? And the big one for me, what else does it do? Don’t get me wrong. There are good products out there that are very beneficial and may work great for your operation, but there are also a lot of symptom solvers that are a waste of money.

There are lots of companies that make similar products, even the products that I like and recommend to people. And every salesman will tell you theirs is better.

The brand of electric fencer, for example, does not matter if you don’t understand the basic grazing concepts.

New products or fads come along every year and producers are excited about trying new technologies and products, trying to get that quick fix or that magic bullet. The majority of the time, that quick fix can’t replace good management.

I have found that managing the business side of my farm will usually get me a lot further ahead than buying into the newest fad.

Running a gross margin analysis will show me how well that fad will work on my farm pretty quick.

Working with nature will be less costly than fighting against it year after year.

You will never catch me selling fencing equipment or water systems, so please, don’t ask. The information I am selling is far too valuable to jeopardize the message because of a lack of trust.

Sustainable management is key to the survival of our industry, our way of life and our planet. To quote a great mentor of mine, Allan Savory, “Ultimately, the only wealth that can sustain any community, economy or nation, is derived from the photosynthetic process- green plants growing on regenerating soil.”

That’s what I’m selling — a sustainable future in agriculture. If we don’t buy into it as an industry very soon, I’m afraid it will cost us dearly.

About the author

Contributor

Steve Kenyon runs Greener Pastures Ranching Ltd. in Busby, Alta., www.greenerpasturesranching.com, or call 780-307-6500.

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