Of all the questions I get asked, the one I get asked the most is: How can I get the job even if my price is higher? This month’s column will focus on how you communicate the value you bring to the table.
For starters, it is a big mistake to say, “I lost that job because our price was too high.”
What do you learn if you assume that is the reason you did not get the job? I feel you learn nothing from accepting that as the reason. If you accept that your price was too high and that’s just the way it is, all you can do to improve is lower your price to combat that issue.
Sure, you could figure out a way to be more efficient; you could cut costs by using cheaper materials and the like. To be blunt, there’s not a landscaper in America that can’t find a way to lower their costs and be more competitive.
That should be a daily quest. It should be standard operating procedure to look for new, better and consequently cheaper ways to do business. A better answer to losing a job to price is to say, “I must not have fully communicated the value I bring to the table and that’s why I lost the job.” Smart green industry sales professionals know, first and foremost, clients do business with people they know, like and trust. As I often say, when you make friends, you make sales. But those relationships are kept rock solid by a daily dose of value.
The foundation to winning a job is to deliver exactly what the client wants on your proposal and the only way you can find out what that is would be to ask them what they want at the initial visit. I see many landscapers that really mess this up. When you initially engage someone about your company, you need to ask them the following questions:
1. Where did you hear about us? (The answer to this question lends insight into the mindset of the prospect.)
2. What timeframe do you want to complete this job?
3. And the most important question: What is the process you are going to go through in hiring a contractor?
And then you need to be quiet and listen.
The questions should be asked on the phone call. No appointments should be set up on the phone without this screening. To improve your closing ratio, you have to make sure you are meeting with buyers that fit the definition of your “ideal client.” Just running out to see every person that calls you might be a big part of your problem. Improve your chances for success by meeting with prospects who fit what you are looking for.
The biggest part of being successful in sales is knowing who your ideal client is and then methodically going about finding those people who fit that mold. In the short term, the hardest word for a landscape sales professional to say is “no.”
In the long run, it’s the easiest word to say when you find out how much more successful you will be by spending time with the prospects that best match your criteria. If you find while screening they are a good fit for an appointment, then you set it up but not before then. Hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars are wasted annually by green industry selling professionals who just go out and meet with anyone.
Just the other day I went through my whole process and as I got down to setting up the appointment, I told them our minimum job was $1,500. She replied, “Oh, no way, we only have $1,000 to spend.”
This was after she told me she wanted a paver patio and a fire pit. Now, maybe I scared her off with my minimum, but who in their right state of mind thinks you can get a patio and a fire pit for $1,000? Had I gone on that call, I might have been able to convince them to do more but it was not likely.
To find that out, you must screen the leads you get. The above-mentioned questions will enable you to do just that and to come up with a plan that will touch on what the buyers’ needs are and have a successful transaction.
Read Marty’s column next month where he will prepare you to present irrefutable evidence to every prospect and client that you are the best choice for landscaping.