The big ideal

Features - Cover Story: The Sales Issue

Figuring out what you want out of a client will clear your mind and allow you to focus on your business.

January 18, 2013
Marty Grunder

Steven Covey, the late, great thought leader, taught all of us to “begin with the end in mind.” Those simple words, if taken to heart, will help all green industry sales professionals improve their selling efforts. Specifically, when we know what an ideal client looks like, and we focus all our efforts on attaining those types of clients, we will be more successful than if we simply tried to do business with anyone we come in contact with.

Let’s talk about two ways to improve your selling successes. The two ways are broadly defined as: screen and pre-work. 

Screen. You should screen each and every prospect to make sure you are meeting with a prospect who will buy. There are three questions all of us should ask prospects before going to see them:

1. Where did you hear about us? The ideal answer is, “I was referred to you by Mrs. So and So who loves your company.” When you hear this, you get excited as it most likely means they know a little bit about your work and how you work and, hopefully, even your rates. Most importantly, this referral means you have a relationship, even though it’s once removed, that could and should help you sell the job.  If they say, “An Internet search,” that’s okay too; just know what that means. It means that there’s no relationship to start this potential sale off on the right foot.

2. When did you want the job finished? The ideal answer to this is, “Well, we have a wedding (or something like this) in about four months, so we want to get a plan together.” You want prospects to call that have thought about what they want done and are serious about doing something.

3. How are you selecting a contractor? The answer to this question will provide you with the information you need to: a) see if you want to go meet with this person, and b) gather information that will most likely help you make the sale. If the answer to this question is, “We’re getting 31 estimates to redo our entrance here at the office park and the lowest bid gets the job,” why would you want that job? 

Too many green industry sales professionals don’t prepare for their sales calls. They just “show up.” Stop doing this. Review the reasons your clients tell you they do business with you.

Review the area of expertise you are going to talk about with the prospect or client. If it’s a call to talk about pavers, have that information with you and be ready for the “test.” If it’s a call about snow removal, have your iPad ready with videos of your trucks at work and chock full of testimonials of happy clients.

Follow these steps, and you’ll know who your ideal client is, and have much more success in 2013 and beyond.