The Perfect Milk Bonus


The next time you’re preparing to sell to a prospect, ask yourself, “Do I know the ins and outs of this prospect’s industry?” If your honest answer to this question is “not really,” do yourself a favor and take the time to understand what that prospect measures to gauge his/her success in business. Read the relevant trade journals, research the company’s history, and talk to people you know in the industry. The more you know about the industry and your prospect’s place in it, the better equipped you’ll be to demonstrate value that your prospect will appreciate.

I’d like to share a story about the dairy industry. I would have not known what I am about to share had I not done some research and talked to a person who grew up on a small dairy farm and actually worked as a milkmaid.

As you may have guessed if you ever took the time to think about it, the quality of the milk that farmers deliver to the dairy varies greatly. Realizing the value of high-quality milk, dairies pay farmers a “perfect milk bonus” when the milk they deliver is low in bacteria count and does not have a lot of bug parts or feces in it. Hearing this story, I couldn’t help asking what happens to the milk that is at the opposite end of the spectrum. The milkmaid shared that the dairy makes that lower-quality milk into cheese…Think about that the next time you order a ham and cheese sandwich! Yuck. Anyway, back to our story…

When the workers are milking the cows, they know that fluorescent lights attract bugs…and they know that having bug parts in the milk lowers the probability of a perfect milk bonus. So what do they do? They turn the lights off. The problem with milking a cow in the dark is that the worker can no longer see if cow pee or other pollutants are making their way into the milking pail. In trying to defeat the bug problem, they create a new problem for themselves. They lose the perfect milk bonuses they could have had if they had kept the lights on and seen what the heck was going on around them. 

At this point you’re probably wondering what the heck this story has to do with selling efficiency more effectively, right?

Well, if you change the fluorescent lights to LEDs in a milking barn, two things happen that can be more valuable than the energy and maintenance savings produced by the more efficient lighting. First of all, you virtually eliminate the flying bugs, which some dairy farmers hypothesize is the reason that cows can produce up to 6 percent more milk when the lighting is changed from fluorescent to LED. The less a cow has to swat her butt with her tail, the more relaxed she is and the more milk she’ll produce.

Second, if the bugs aren’t in the barn annoying the cows, their parts can’t find their way into the milk…And since the workers can leave the lights on without the fear of attracting bugs, they have a better view of what they’re doing. 

The confluence of these factors produce two important benefits for the dairy farmer: more milk per cow and higher-grade milk that qualifies the farmer for those perfect milk bonuses.

What’s the moral of this story? This is just one example of the level of detail that you can get if you really take the time to understand your prospect’s segment.

So, when you try to convince dairymen to retrofit their barn lights with LEDs, should you be talking about kilowatt-hours saved? No. How about kilowatts saved? No. How about the higher color rendering index? Absolutely not. What should you be talking about? Pounds of milk produced per cow. Perfect milk bonuses. You’re talking about higher milk production and bonuses because those are metrics that your prospect actually cares about.

Many of the blogs I write reinforce one of the major tenets of selling energy efficiency effectively: You need to reframe your offering so that its benefits can be measured using yardsticks that your prospect is already using to measure his/her success. If you do that, your closing ratio will soar. 

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By (Mark Jewell, CEO of Selling Energy | | | planning, research |
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