Upselling fungicides

Features - Lawn Care

Create an opportunity by diagnosing customer’s lawn funguses and selling a solution.

May 9, 2011
Matthew Noon

I think we all realize how much the weather and climate at certain times of the year can affect our industry. For example, our lawn care company is located in Massachusetts. This can be a particularly harsh climate during certain times in the year. New England’s weather can change overnight, and since we run a service business that involves the maintenance of turf, trees and shrubs, we need to be able to react immediately to these changes for our customers.

Typically the climatology of New England means that the growing season can start anywhere from mid-March to mid-April. Within weeks of having a foot of snow on the ground, we can be administering our first lawn, tree and shrub treatment. The drastic changes in weather and temperature  can produce lawn funguses. Although funguses wreak havoc on customers’ lawns, it creates an opportunity to diagnose and sell a solution to your clients. By anticipating a customer need, you solidify the perception that you are a lawn professional in the eye of the client.

When a lawn has not been exposed to sunlight for three months, it becomes a breeding ground for diseases and funguses. In March and April when the snow slowly melts, we will see the majority of our clients’ lawns covered with snow mold and pink mold. We create a competitive advantage that differentiates us from others in the industry if we immediately expose our customers to these issues and offer them a solution.
Here are a few tips on how to sell fungicide services.

Pay attention to detail.
I instruct my team to look at every possible danger to a client’s lawn and to sell a solution. I don’t look at snow mold or any other lawn disease as another problem or setback with a “business as usual” attitude, but rather an opportunity that we have to satisfy our clients’ needs.

Not only can my lawn technicians find fungus issues to diagnose, but will also include a complete evaluation of other possible issues.

Motivate technicians. Getting  a team of 15 lawn technicians motivated to get out to your customers’ lawns scouting for lawn funguses to sell a solution is a lot easier said than done. Not only must you coach them with effective sales techniques, but you must also create a buy-in for them. A lawn technician is not just going to increase sales without proper incentive. The incentive can be many different things, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be with money. It can be points that are attained to win a flat screen TV or paid time off for example. If cash is the incentive, then a commission can be used for each sale. Whatever it is, make sure it is creative and lucrative for the technician.

Reinforce expectations.
Think of your lawn technicians and team members as an extension of your sales force.
Be sure to also reinforce the selling concept to them on a daily basis. What are your goals for fungicide sales per week? What progress are you making in meeting these goals? Do you talk about this every morning when technicians walk through the door? Constant reinforcement is critical for a sales campaign to be successful.

Focus on opportunities. Another example of a fungus sales success story was last summer. In the early spring, it rained literally each day. Due to the incessant rainfall, a lot of our fertilizer products were not being absorbed appropriately because there was no sunlight to allow the grass to extract nitrogen. In other words, our lawns were nitrogen deficient and red thread was breaking out everywhere.

The phones were ringing off the hook with numerous complaints. Many companies would get defeated and bury their heads in the sand. Not our company. I looked beyond all of the problems and focused on the opportunity that would arise from the erratic weather. It was yet another chance to fill our clients’ needs in a time of crisis.

We had weekly meetings on the condition of our customers’ lawns and how to educate them and sell them a solution to their problem. When lawns were being overrun with red thread, we sold a fungicide treatment which took the worry away and we assumed the responsibility of eliminating the problem for them at a cost. That summer our June and July sales numbers increased by 30 percent.

Although many times customers will complain about the additional cost of taking care of an unforeseen issue in their lawn, most of them understand as long as you fulfill your promise to eliminate the problem. You must also constantly educate the client. This process often falls to your team and it is imperative that they know how to communicate with the customer to explain the problem and to deliver a solution.

Be proactive. As professionals we have to be proactive with our clients. There is nothing worse than to hear that a competitor of ours told their customer that red thread will “go away” on its own with proper amounts of sunlight and fertilizing. The client wants results and they are willing to pay for a solution. When we do not react to our customers’ problems, they will not value our service and the customers will challenge our expertise in lawn care. Once credibility is lost, you’ve probably lost that customer.

We need to be proactive and anticipate the problem. We, as the experts, must take the control and be ready to take care of the business relationship. By doing so our customers are satisfied, our lawns are green and our pockets are, too. L&L

The author is president of Noon Turf Care based in Hudson, Mass.