Your appearance impacts farmers' market sales

Allan Nation

Fox Fire Farms in Ignacio, Colorado, sells approximately half of the grassfed lamb they produce through the Durango and Telluride farmers' markets, so a successful sales technique is extremely important to the ranch.

Brent Walter, sales and marketing director for Fox Fire Farms, told attenders of SGF's Sheep Production School in Durango that your sales representative's appearance is extremely important.

"Your potential customers will size you up in 30 seconds or less," he said.

"You need to have a clean, washed, appearance.

"If you look clean and washed, people will assume the food you are selling is the same."

Style of dress is also important.

"You need to dress like your customers," he said.

"If they wear cowboy boots and hats, then you should.

"However, if they don't, you shouldn't either."

Walters said very few of their farmers' market customers dress Western so they don't either.

He said most farmers' market customers were educated, upper-income people.

"Upscale people want to buy from people who reflect their values," he said.

"This means a proper haircut, clean fingernails, good clothes and a deferential but firm authority about your product."

He said that when a customer approaches, you should take off your sunglasses so that you can make eye contact.

"Never say, 'Can I help you?'" Walter warned.

"This will lose you sales 90% of the time.

"People don't want to hear a sales pitch.

"What you want to do is to start a conversation.

"Comment on the weather.

"Ask if they were at the local baseball game the night before?

"Do anything to get them talking and then show a sincere interest in whatever they say."

He said to try and find out what kind of meal they are planning before discussing product prices.

"You need to know if they are planning an intimate dinner for two or birthday party for 20 people, as this will greatly impact upon the price range of the product you can sell them."

Walter said it was important to not discount your farmers market prices in order to move overstocked items.

"Use restaurant, deli and health food stores to balance inventory. Keep your farmers market prices constant."

Product samples are an important tool to entice people to stop at your booth.

Evan Parry, a recent graduate of the California Culinary Academy, keeps a grill going in Fox Fire's booth with sizzling bite-sized pieces of lamb for consumers to try.

"The smell of the samples cooking really draws people in," Parry said.

"A lot of people will duck in and grab a sample and quickly walk away without looking at anything because they don't want to hear a sales pitch.

"However, once they bite into our sample it normally stops them dead in their tracks.

"Most will then come back and talk to us about our lamb.

"If you can get them talking, you've got them."

by The Stockman Grass Farmer


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