We spend a lot of time on numbers. We talk numbers with our customers and future customers, our friends and consultants. We talk number of acres, yield, rate of gain, total number farrowed, weaned and finished, bushels, lean mass, pounds and tons. In marketing we look at the numbers as well and define people as targets, segments, hits or market share.
I don’t believe our industry to be unique in this way. Where we are unique is how small Agriculture truly is, allowing us the opportunity to get beyond the numbers. We get to know the individuals, their preferences, problems and passions. We can take away the labeling of targets and segments and look at our strategy plans and talk about growers, producers, retailers, veterinarians and so forth. We can talk about their problems and our solutions or connections to solutions. If we put away the numbers for a little while, let’s think about what that would do to our relationships.
This past week our organization has celebrated the life of our “numbers person”. Sandy Fabian, taken too soon by a car accident, supported Beck Ag for a long time in the role of Corporate Accountant. She touched everyone associated with Beck Ag in one way or another. As we have posted memories on our internal social media site, no one has mentioned the numbers. I have no idea how many invoices she processed, reports she ran, taxes, W-9s, 1099s or W2s she completed, or how many of our errors she corrected. What I do know from my own experience and from reading the memories posted, she served in her role…with a smile. She served with compassion and grace, seeking to understand first, and then helping us understand. She was passionate about her role at Beck Ag, but more importantly her role as a mother and a wife. Sandy lived our guiding principles. Though numbers were her life, her relationships came first.
I’ve thought a lot about Sandy this past week, about her husband Chuck and their son Wyatt. And, I’ve thought a lot about what relationships really mean and the impact of what true relationship marketing and sales strategies could have with our customers. I know the impact Sandy had in our organization…because to her, the numbers really didn’t matter.