'Always under-promise, but over-deliver'

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Editor's note: This Practice Builder was contributed by Marcelo Oberto, veterinarian and nutritionist from Ft. Wayne, Ind.

Complexities of the dairy business and the current economic crisis have created new challenges for consultants to focus on the real value our clients are looking for.

When I graduated from veterinary school and went back to the family dairy, I realized that we needed a better nutritionist instead of an on-farm vet. That is when I decided to study animal nutrition and become a consultant.

I was adding value to my career by entering a new field of work that would open another door of opportunities.

As consultants, we face the challenge of pursuing new business, and then being able to keep it for as long as we can. This implies creativity, and many struggle to develop it, which creates a high turnover rate for consultants on farms.

In my practice, it has helped me a lot to identify the personality of my clients and prospects in order to adapt myself to them and be able to deliver what they really want. And, in many cases, it is not high production, healthy cows or cheaper feed costs.

Just recently, I created value for a client who was under a lot of pressure to secure his corn-silage needs for the coming year. This is a 2,000-cow dairy that purchases all of its feedstuffs, and the crop farmer the dairy buys from was demanding half of the money up-front in order to fill up the bunker.

At the same time, another dairy client was telling me that he would make more money by selling corn silage than shelling his extra corn. After thinking for a while, I proposed the idea to both of them that one client — the one looking for corn silage — would buy it on a weekly basis, paying a week's worth ahead of time out of his cash flow and my other client would deliver the corn silage on a daily basis from his bunker.

After closing the deal, I realized that I created more value for both of my clients than I ever had before. The client buying the corn silage is in a lot better situation now to fight this crisis than a month ago, and my client selling corn silage is going to have the extra return he was looking for.

Creating value often sounds easier than it actually is. My rule-of-thumb is to always under-promise, but over-deliver, thus providing the value my customers need, which means they will recognize, appreciate and ultimately reward me.

At the end, this is a business of personal relationships where you will create value if you show your clients that you really care for them, their money, their risks, their time and their families.

Respected investor and multi-billionaire Warren Buffet once said, "Price is what you pay, value is what you get."

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