Michael Duncan, Account Manager & Youngstock Specialist

1-5-2020

Department: Sales


"There is an air of uncertainty in the dairy industry at the moment and as a result I’m trying to communicate and work even more closely with my customers to help them re-evaluate their priorities."

Room to grow

“I grew up in Ayrshire, Scotland and have always had a keen interest in farming and livestock. After finishing at Glasgow University, I joined ForFarmers in September 2015. For the first two years I was the Youngstock Specialist for Scotland and the North of England. The Youngstock team is a national team and we all have individual areas and sales teams which we support. The team are able to offer support around the VITA Nutritional Programme to produce healthy productive livestock on farm and hit targets such as Target 24.”

“As I’m out and about seeing different farms and setups, I’m constantly learning on the job and in 2017 I became an Account Manager. I began taking on dairy customers from my local area in Ayrshire and have now worked all the way down the South West of Scotland. I am part of the Penrith ruminant sales team and continue to assist with any youngstock queries.”

Out on the road

Afbeelding: MD - Calves

“I plan my week ahead and aim to allocate each day to a specific area. Time is precious and by being organised you can see more customers and save travelling time."

"I always begin my day by checking my emails, once this is complete I head out on the road. On local days my first appointment is around 9:30am and I am back late in the afternoon to catch up with emails and office tasks. Queries from customers come in at all times of the day, so I always check my phone last thing at night and first thing in the morning. As farmers are working almost 24/7, it is important to be contactable and responsive.”

“When travelling further afield an early start is required. I normally leave the house around 7am and I’m usually home at 6pm. I enjoy working with farmers to help them improve herd nutrition, farm efficiency and provide advice on our wide range of products and services.”

Adapting to working at home

 “I have been using remote access technology to keep track of my customer’s dairy herds for quite a while now. This has been really useful during this lockdown period as I can log in and check on the analytics and outputs.”

“I’m spending more time on the phone to customers and prospects than ever before. This has advantages and disadvantages, for example I can now speak to more customers each day, however there’s nothing like seeing the cows and their condition with your own eyes. We are still offering the same level of service and able to send customers kits to carry out tasks themselves in order to get the results and analysis needed eg silage testing”

“Some customers have been really proactive at adapting and have been weighing and recording their youngstock. They then send me the results via email. I then evaluate them in a report and make any necessary recommendations. Typically youngstock setups don’t fluctuate much once they are set up on a good programme such as VITA. I schedule in a phone call every other month with these customers to ensure all is well and ask if there is anything else I can do.”

“There is an air of uncertainty in the dairy industry at the moment and as a result I’m trying to communicate and work even more closely with my customers to help them re-evaluate their priorities. Feeding whole milk to calves is becoming a popular option with farmers. I therefore have to advise on incorporating whole milk into their feeding regime. This is quite new to me as usually we promote milk replacers, however with the current environment adapting to cost-effective options is key and as an Account Manager helping your customers reach their goals is paramount.”

Taking customers on a journey

“I came into the industry because I respect farmers and I found that many were struggling due to bad decisions, bad advice or perhaps bad luck. ForFarmers was a company that I felt offered a platform to help farmers as well as develop my career and skill set. There is a great bunch of people behind the scenes with a lot of knowledge and enthusiasm to share. Together the regional and national teams all pull together especially when challenging times arise.”

 “Increasingly customers are seeing their “feed advisor” as much more than a provider of feed. Alongside their trusted vet, ForFarmers Account Managers across the country are being increasingly asked to advise on key business operating decisions, for both feed and the entire herd management system. Being a trusted advisor and decision maker is more important now than it has been in years, perhaps since the 2015 low milk price. Building relationships with customers and taking them on a journey by implementing step changes is vital. Seeing customers achieve their goals is so rewarding.”

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MD - Calves on farm

One team

 “The Penrith sales team and the Youngstock team are part of my everyday life; in fact I think I speak to them more than my own family! I feel lucky to be part of two teams, they are both small, well-knitted and knowledgeable. There are quite a few character’s but that makes things interesting and everyone works together to keep the wheels turning. During times like this, it is important to have a supportive team and leaders behind you, but hopefully we can all come out stronger together at the end of this.”

“I work closely with the customer service department at Brydekirk and I must say they are the backbone of what I do in my role. They are always willing to help and I would be pretty lost without them, so thank you.”

“ForFarmers has given me opportunities to learn and take on more responsibility. This investment in people can be seen all over the business. As an individual I have grown so much in the last five years and I was lucky enough to be recognised at our annual sales awards and won Most Improved TRANSLAC Sales. This event plus many other initiatives highlight that the company really values its people and therefore provides the training, development and guidance needed to make great individuals and teams.”

“I really enjoy my role and hope that I can continue to develop my knowledge and skills, offering more services to the customers and colleagues who have been so good to me.”