Lawn & Landscape
By Marty Grunder
Every year I partner with the National Association of Landscape Professionals to deliver sales boot camps for green industry professionals who want to sharpen their skills and improve their closing rates. I just got back from events in Dallas and Philly where we had a great turnout of super-engaged salespeople who kept me on my toes by asking a lot of really intelligent questions.
Afterward, I spent the flight home jotting down my thoughts and looking for the commonalities, and I kept thinking of this quote from Warren Buffet: “It is not necessary to do extraordinary things to get extraordinary results.” Because the truth is that you don’t need big gestures or expensive gimmicks to win at sales. You can get extraordinary results through ordinary actions if you’re smart and intentional about it. Here are three simple approaches you can start taking right now:
1. Know who your ideal clients are and craft your sales strategy to find and convert them. Fishermen don’t head out on the water without knowing what they’re fishing for. Why? Because they need a different setup to catch trout in a Missouri river than they do pompano off the coast of Florida. The same is true for snagging your best prospects.
At my consultancy, we take the landscape pros we work with through a step-by-step exercise to help them find the intersection between clients they enjoy working with, those whom they make the most money from and those they can work with again and again. Once they have a list of who that is, we work with them to identify the characteristics these individuals share. Where do they live, work and shop? What’s their average age? What do they value? What are they looking for? What do they read or watch or listen to?
Knowing – and noting – all of these factors helps you clarify what you should sell, and how and where you should sell it. It helps you filter out those whom you shouldn’t work with, and get really intentional about your long-range strategy. We have all had the unfortunate experience of saying yes when we should have said no, and we all know the headaches and heartaches that ensue.
2. Take time to screen prospect calls effectively. My team at Grunder Landscaping and the hundreds of clients I’ve coached through my consultancy have learned that they’ll have a much higher closing rate if they take the time to screen prospect calls carefully. We might spend as much as 30 minutes on the phone in our first contact with a prospect, asking them a series of questions from how they heard about us to how they’ll select a contractor. Their answers help us decipher whether they’re a good fit for us.
Some of you may think this is a lot of time to spend doing this, but at Grunder Landscaping, we’re focused on the high-end market and screening rigorously up front actually saves us time by helping ensure we are pursuing only the strongest leads who have the best chance of becoming our ideal clients.
3. Bring your A-game to the appointment. As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Dress neatly, arrive ahead of time and LISTEN! Whenever I go on a sales call for Grunder Landscaping, I first tell my prospect I am going to listen more than I talk, and then I hold myself to that (which anyone who knows me knows is a real struggle). Your prospects have called you because they have a problem and they think you just may be the one to solve it. Let them tell you all about their wants and needs, while you gently steer the conversation with intelligent questions and record what they say. Then you can return with a highly detailed proposal that addresses all of their concerns.
This active attention can be the difference between a sale and a rejection, and it can overcome objections to price. Last fall I sold a $12,000 drainage job, despite my prospect receiving quotes from two other companies that were less than half of what I proposed. How? “Even though you are twice the price, your proposal spoke to me,” my new client told me upon signing our contract. “I feel like you were the only one who listened.”
Take these ordinary steps to extraordinary results, and I’ll see you next month.