Local FFA members placed eighth among 20 teams from across Ohio in a March 3 competition demonstrating agricultural sales techniques.
Wellington High School senior Alex Fehlan took first place in the state as an individual competitor.
High-schoolers were tasked with forming strategies to build customer referral bases.
“There’s three parts of the contest: a written exam, a sales demonstration where you try to sell a product to the judges, and a scenario we we had to try and gain new customers,” Fehlan said. “At districts we were selling seed but at this last competition it was a leaf blower.”
The WHS team placed second in district competition to earn the trip to Columbus, which isn’t new for Fehlan. In December, he competed in the state finals for parliamentary procedure, with FFA teammates Sarah Park and Hannah Downs joining him on both trips.
“Farmers are hard to sell to,” Fehlan said. “They find a way to do something and they continue with that way. What’s changing, though, is the modernization. More seeds are modified now and you have more exact planning techniques. Agriculture is evolving as a whole but each part is doing it in its own way.”
Fehlan plans to study finance in college and thinks all FFA lessons — whether they involve learning the formal process of a government meeting or how to sell products to farmers — have given him an early primer.
“Finance is so broad,” he said. “I don’t know if I want to go into sales specifically. For those who do, my advice would be to build rapport with your customer. The best part of sales is the conversation. Talk to someone like they’re your friend. Become their friend. Identify their needs and find a way to address them. No one likes being sold to, so you have to find the perfect way to go about it.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.