The Gift of Knowledge by Angela Vesco

Knowledge is power. How many times have you heard that in your lifetime? How many times have you seen it come to fruition? Knowledge about an industry, a specific subject, or whatever is usually what gives people the power to succeed. How do you acquire knowledge?

I am sure that I would hear a different response from everyone. But what it really boils down to is that you acquire knowledge by being studious. You take the time to read, to listen, to absorb, to think, and then put it into practice.

So why am I talking about knowledge? Well, we are coming up on the spring bull sale season and there is a lot of data that goes into putting a bull sale together. When you print your catalog,
you probably have expected progeny differences (EPDs), some genomic-enhanced EPDs, percentile rankings (at least I hope all seedstock suppliers print percentile rankings), and ratios. But, what good is data if no one understands it?

The beef industry continues to advance and finds more ways to select for higher quality genetics and as a result we have an ever-growing repertoire of genetic selection tools. How many of your
commercial producers fully understand how to effectively utilize those genetic tools? That is where you, the seedstock supplier, can give the gift of knowledge.

Educating your customers on the genetic tools you offer is one of the best things you can do from a customer service standpoint. You want them to be able to make educated decisions when they are buying your bulls. The more knowledge commercial producers have, the better they will be able to select bulls and manage their cowherds. Is it not one of the goals of the beef industry, which you are apart of, to make the fastest genetic progress possible? If your commercial customers understand EPDs, know that genomics enhance the reliability of EPDs, and why you print ratios for weights rather than actual weights, then they can help move the industry closer to that goal of genetic progress.

So how many opportunities do you have to educate your customers? Well, you have your catalog, for one. I know that adding more pages to your catalog can increase the cost, but I would encourage every seedstock producer to have a page explaining what each EPD is and its intended use. Also, a great time to visit with your customers is the night before the sale. Many of them are traveling in the day before to look at the bulls first thing in the morning so why not take that opportunity to hold a free dinner the night before; everyone likes free food. This provides a great opportunity to go over your process for selecting the genetics and other relevant information. Bull delivery is another opportunity to visit with customers and answer any questions they have.
Of course, not one of your customers is like the other. There are varying levels of knowledge so you will have to adjust your conversations accordingly to ensure that you are giving them the gift of knowledge.

Now, in order for you to give the gift of knowledge, you must possess that knowledge first. Giving yourself the gift of knowledge is also very valuable. Educate yourself on what is happening in the industry. Read those magazine articles, attend meetings within your county or state, read the proceedings and attend the Beef Improvement Federation annual convention, attend the national conventions of your breed association. Do all that you can to understand all the aspects of our industry.

As Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”