Farm Credit Association Sales Leaders "Step Up. Stand Out."
Associations stay market focused and achieve record attendance at the 2009 Farm Credit Sales Leadership Conference.
The title of the conference was “Step Up. Stand Out.” And that’s exactly what 90 sales leaders did for three days in October at the 2009 Farm Credit Sales Leadership Conference in Kansas City.
At a time when many conferences are seeing attendance drop by as much as 50%, the 2009 Farm Credit Sales Leadership Conference had its highest attendance in recent years, reports Steve Iversen, Director of Wholesale Lending at AgriBank. “Because of the economy, we were targeting about 60 attendees. We had 90 attendees as compared to a previous high watermark of 85, an encouraging and positive number. This is a true testament to the leadership and management of Farm Credit Associations, that during tough times Farm Credit remains focused on the market,” said Iversen.
There were a couple of key reasons for the conference’s success in both attendance and post-conference ratings. The first, said Iversen, was good planning. “We had a planning team that was comprised of eight individuals who are sales leaders in their Associations. It was a sales leadership conference planned and organized by Farm Credit sales leaders. I think that’s what made it attractive System-wide. In fact, attendees included about 20 Association sales leaders from Associations in the four Farm Credit Districts outside of the AgriBank District."
The second reason for success was that the topics were timely and on target, adds Iversen. “They all had a focus on the marketplace and sales, but some had a little different slant than years past. For example, Jim Garrison, former CCO with FCS of Mid-America, gave the closing presentation. He talked about how to stay active in the marketplace while recognizing the needs of your Chief Credit Officer. Just a couple of years ago that was a different topic, when loan approvals were more easily attained. Now it’s tougher to get credits approved, so the discussion centered on things sales people need to focus on to make sure that they can serve the needs of their borrowers while also complying with the risk management parameters of the Association,” said Iversen.
One of the program highlights was the Best Practices Panel Discussion of Farm Credit Sales Leaders. “We brought together a panel of leaders who are part of the sales and marketplace operations for their Association, to share with the group proven practices or principles that are significant for their organizations,” said Iversen.
This year, Ron Eichmeier of FCS of America served as the moderator for this session. The panel included Aaron Johnson of FCS of Illinois, Ken Reiners of Badgerland Financial, and Roger Riffel and Jim Aylward of Frontier Farm Credit. The Best Practices Panel is always well received, said Iversen. “The audience hears from their peers, and hears stories that are first-hand and practical in their minds, because they talk about things that everyone has to deal with.”
Another popular panel discussion was held by representatives of Association and Bank Treasury/Finance Departments. Their topic was “Expert Perspectives of Products, Pricing, and Strategies for the Marketplace.” Participants included Jerry Fenner, Treasury, AgriBank; Craig Kinnison, CFO, FCS of America; Tom Nakano, CFO, Northwest FCS; and John Cole, Treasury, FCB of Texas. The focus of this discussion was about meeting the demands of the marketplace with an array of products and competitive loan pricing despite the stressed conditions in the financial markets.
The keynote speaker was Dr. Jeffrey Magee, whose presentation was titled “Performance Execution and Value Added Selling.” Said Iversen, “It was very good, and the most highly rated segment.”
The 2009 Farm Credit Sales Leadership Conference hit the mark at all levels”, said Iversen. “Based on the ratings and comments, Farm Credit sales leaders felt like the conference was a success. This is a big win, in my mind. Because, in the end, this is just one demonstration of Farm Credit remaining market focused during a volatile time which, in turn, helps farmers, ranchers and rural America. And from an AgriBank perspective, our role in supporting this conference furthers our mission – serving those who serve rural America.”