by Trey Nosrac
My pal seemed a tad aggravated, “What’s the point of this nonsense? Selling a stallion breeding is insanely complicated. Salespeople are fishing in a very small pond of owners with an available broodmare.”
I sighed and answered, “Back in the Obama administration, something happened, nothing earth-shaking, but it stuck in my brain.”
“I was last-minute shopping for a stallion breeding. I wrote down a list of three stallions in the $3,0000 to $5,000 range. I punched in the number of the farm that stood the first stallion on my list. I used the phone because Trey always tries to avoid leaving a paper trail.”
“Who did you speak with?
“Not sure, it was a quick conversation. In a cheerful voice, I remarked that I’d like to breed my mare to your stallion, and I would pay $1,500.”
“The guy on the phone sounded annoyed and grumbled, ‘We don’t do that.’’”
“Your feelings were hurt?”
“Hell no, Trey is used to rejection. I’ve been rejected by the best. Rejection for me is like when the experimental radioactive spider bites Peter Parker and turns him into Spiderman.”
“Then what happened, Spidey?”
“I gave the farm 24 hours to call back with a counter offer. My phone didn’t buzz, so I called stallion farm number two on my list and repeated that I’d like to breed my mare to their stallion. I would pay $1,500. Their swift answer was – ‘Okay.’”
“Did you get a foal?”
“Yep, a nice colt that raced well. Everything worked out fine on my end, but the first incident perplexed me. Why answer, no? What was the downside for the owner? The following year I looked up the stallion from the ownership that rejected my offer. The sire had something like a dozen registered breedings that year. He is no longer even standing stud.”
“Maybe you talked to the wrong person,” He said.
“That’s possible. But even if the person I spoke to did not have the juice to reduce the fee, the offer should have reached the ears of the person with the juice.”
He nodded and said, “A simple reply would have been appropriate. Maybe they didn’t want to set a precedent.”
“Maybe, but it’s not like I was going to run out and tell anyone. Trust me, many of my dealings are in the shadows. The way I see it, an owner of a stallion can sit and wait, they can deal and hustle, or they can throw the book at any and every possible customer.”
My pal said, “Selling is complicated, no matter if it’s movies, or software, or phones. Selling stallion breedings is such a weird niche product.”
I nodded, “It’s a niche in a niche. Nevertheless, I have a couple more schemes on the drawing board. See what you think.”
“Let’s use Nothing But Class for our example. He is standing at Dublin Farms in central Ohio.”
“Any particular reason?”
“I visited Dublin Farms several years ago to check out a stallion and had a nice visit. They have an intriguing trio of stallion possibilities for breeders. Nothing But Class is a newish kid on the block. Checking out his page, it shows that he did most of his racing in Europe, which makes him a bit of a wild card and gives him a bit of panache. He was not a record-breaker on the track, but he has a strong female side, and you know Trey loves the ladies. NBC looks like an underrated stallion that will have empty seats on the breeding bus.”
“What are these plans?”
I said, “If seats are available in March, this advertisement will appear.”
Do you have a trotting broodmare?
Are you looking for a quality sire at a reasonable price? Want to try the Ohio racing program?
Consider our new “Late Season Clearance?
Make a deal, your best deal, for Nothing But Class (click here). If your mare catches in April, you pay the contracted price. However, if your mare does not catch until May, you take an additional 10 per cent off the contracted price, and if your mare does not catch until June, you take yet another 10 per cent off the contract price.
“Meh,” he said.
“Meh…what the heck does that mean?”
“It means I don’t think it’s a game-changing idea, which is a polite way of saying your idea stinks.”
I snorted a laugh, “Yeah, that one was lame.”
“What’s do you have behind door number two?” he asked.
“This idea should have been started in the fall, before the breeding season. It could get squeezed in this year, but it definitely would be better with the clock not ticking. The idea is labor-intensive, which is out of character for me. I would look hard for owners of potential broodmares, say a couple of dozen. Then I handwrite each owner a personal letter in cursive, using a fountain pen. The letter would say:
This letter comes to you out of leftfield. I believe you will find an opportunity grazing in the grass.
After painstakingly researching your broodmare (insert name), we are truly impressed with her potential and the potential of a crossing with Nothing But Class.
Now Michael, PLEASE DO NOT SHARE THIS letter or offer, confidentiality is important to us at Dublin Valley. To be safe, even though it took me about 20 minutes to write the dang thing, you might want to burn this letter after reading.
In your case, due to the quality of your broodmare and since you are a new (or old) customer to the terrific Ohio racing program, we are going to take $1,000– off the listed stud fee. And since we like your mare…maybe more.Let’s talk.
Nothing But Class Team
He gave a mini-clap and said, “Much, much better. An approach that is proactive, humorous, personal, flexible.”
I gave a signal like a referee after a successful extra point, “Yes, not a Meh. My thinking was that a handwritten letter would be a novelty. You want to know where this idea came from?”
“During my dance in the breeding arena, I needed a dozen stallion breedings for a pair of quality mares. During 12 years as a potential customer, exactly ZERO times, has any farm, any stallion owner, any syndicate, any representative, or any entity, sent me a personal letter, email, text, or phone call.”
He quipped, “Perhaps your reputation has preceded you.”
“Dude, I figure the worse I keep my reputation, the easier it is to maintain.”
He nodded in agreement and said, “A horse breeding is a big-ticket item. It’s a unique product that costs the buyer thousands of dollars, that combination could make it worth the effort to personalize a pitch.”
“Exactly. Despite my efforts to maintain a low profile, it is public information that I own a broodmare and that I have bred in different state racing programs. An unpredictable broodmare owner like me was on the table, yet nobody knocked on the door.”
“Are we done with this nonsense?”
Shaking my head no, I went for the switcheroo and rudely imposed, “Why don’t you take a swing? How about a few ideas from the real world of big-time commerce, tips from your conglomerate sales wonks, ideas that could apply to the semi-real world of stallions and breeding.”
After a few seconds, he said, “In my world, we don’t have time to make personal pitches, but we do have principles for selling problematic products to the public.”
“Whoa, you used a plethora of P’s.”
“Let’s hear a plan.”
“I’ll get back to you.”
I shook my head, “That’s what they all say.”