Real lessons for the real world
The Quincy High School FFA chapter’s Sales team finished sixth at the FFA statewide competition in Pullman last month.
The four-person team, composed of Jacob DeLeeuw, Lacey Gillmore, Nick Hendrickson and Elizabeth Nielson, learned the ins and outs of a product and then tried to sell it to a fictitious customer, all the while fielding on-the-fly questions. The product these four teenagers had to sell was real but the scenario was fake, DeLeeuw said.
“This year, we sold bull semen,” Nielson said. “They gave us six different bulls with all their information, and that’s the product we were selling. It’s the same product every single time, but it’s different how we are selling it and to whom we are selling it. It’s different situations.”
For a foursome of teenagers, it sounded funny to sell such a product, but they took it seriously, and no one got the giggles or a tomato-red face. It was imperative that they keep it serious, as each of them had to improvise a cold-call in addition to the group pitch.
They have been working on their pitch for months, so keeping it serious was not a problem.
“It’s totally different than what it sounds,” Hendrickson said. “It’s as if a sales rep for hay came to us and talked to us about seed. It’s the same thing. You just have to go at it from a business standpoint.”
In addition to that, Nielson raises cows in real life, so she has had to use such a product before and knows it well.
And if any of the four failed to take it seriously, well, there were plenty of folks willing to remind them.
“It’s tough,” DeLeeuw said. “It’s one of the most competitive CDs at state.”
CD stands for Career Development area of FFA.
This is the third year of the sales team. Last year, they “sold” irrigation circles and two years ago, they “sold” tractors.
For Hendrickson, this year’s pitch was the most challenging. He comes from a farming family, too, so he deals with irrigation circles and tractors, but not bulls, let alone their semen.
“I had absolutely zero product knowledge with this,” he said.
Still, this is the first year the team placed at state. The difference, Hendrickson said, was the advisor. Teacher and advisor Mike Wallace “really knows the product,” and the team improved its sales pitch, Hendrickson said.
“Each of us brings something to the pitch that perhaps the others wouldn’t have,” DeLeeuw said.
All four said they would do it again if given the chance. However, junior Gillmore is the only non-senior on the team and the only one who returns next year. The graduates said they hope to use what they have learned at FFA Sales in the real world.
— By Sebastian Moraga, firstname.lastname@example.org