What Happens When The Pigs Don’t Eat?

Wayne, a feed salesman, pulls into the yard and greets Donny, the farmer, outside his barn. He steps out of his truck and exchanges a hardy “morning” with Donny. After a few comments about the weather, Wayne asks about the new feed Donny has been feeding his hogs.20.8.04 Blythburgh Free Range PorkFree Range growers.

Last month Donny decided to start buying his feed from another salesman because its priced less. Donny says, “It’s going ok.” Wayne, reading the tone and body language from Donny, knows differently. Wayne asks, “How many bags are they going through a week?” Donny replies, “About 18.” Wayne scratches his head and asks, “You are down a few hogs?” “No”, Donny replies. The salesman reminds Donny that his hogs were eating about 25 bags of his feed and ready for market on schedule.

Donny thought he’d be saving some money by buying cheaper feed for his hogs. In fact, it is cheaper but the hogs are eating less. What does it really cost Donny?

Since the hogs are not eating, Donny holds on to them a few months longer to fatten them up to meet the minimum weight requirement. In the past that was not an issue. His hogs came in at 20-30% over the required minimum.

So what does it really cost Donny when he buys cheaper feed? First, his yield is an average of 25% less which means less revenue. He holds on to the hogs longer, postponing income while still continuing the pay the fixed operating costs.

Wayne asked a few more questions of Donny without making him feel “not OK” about making a bad purchasing decision, questions that reveal increased costs and less profit. Donny realizes that the cheaper feed has a lower price, but it costs him more.

Our role as a salesperson is to help our prospect discover reasons, and value, to buy from us by uncovering the costs and consequences. Cheaper feed that the hogs don’t eat will cost the farmer more while gaining less from the lower price. The difference between price and cost is the prospects value.

When you think the prospect is buying on the cheapest price, ask them, “Are you making your buying decision on the lowest price regardless of the cost?” Another way to ask is, “Are you looking for the best price or the lowest cost?” They may reply with a puzzled look, and that’s the beginning of the selling conversation.


  1. I just went through a similar situation with a potential client today. There is a big chance he is going to decide to go with the ‘cheaper’ version of our service from a competitor. Lesson noted. Thanks Scott!

  2. tamara molde says

    great story scott!