At the recent GIE+EXPO convention, Monroe Porter’s session on “How to Win Jobs and Close Deals” was jam packed. Porter offered insights on sales in his light-hearted and fast-paced program.
Porter illustrated the misconceptions of sales pressure by comparing the clerk booking your hotel room or the waiter taking your order at a restaurant to the landscaper asking for an order at the end of a presentation. In all cases, Porter said, the customer has demonstrated a need for the service, so the landscaper (or clerk or waiter) should not hesitate or feel as if they are being pushy. Monroe said that selling is nothing more than communicating your trade and craft to solve customer problems and fulfill their needs.
Porter also said that selling is about trust and communication, not talking people into something. He said that a professional salesperson should adapt his or her communication style to match the customer’s personality, rather than expecting the customer to adapt to the salesperson’s way of communicating.
He compared the selling of landscaping services to a doctor’s visit. Patients don’t know the science behind the pill they are prescribed, but they trust that their doctor does. In the same way, landscapers must listen to the customer, diagnose their problem and build a working relationship around trust and competency.
DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY
Porter also discussed how it is important not to take the negotiation process personally. It is the customer’s job to flinch at the price tag. If the customer were to say you had the perfect price, you would stay up all night worrying about what you left out of your estimate.
In another session, Monroe Porter discussed “How to Survive, Prosper and Grow Profits in the Landscaping Business,” where he focused on the importance of business administration.
Porter said that if entrepreneurs want to grow their personal income, they need to delegate some of their administrative duties. Business owners need to focus on the tasks that bring the most value instead of on the scheduling, ordering and bookkeeping that can be handled by someone else.
The solution is not to hire more marketing and sales personnel, Porter said. If the company has inadequate admin support and adds more sales and management personnel, it will simply make the inefficiency larger. Porter argues that the most efficient response to this is to delegate tasks to qualified administrators.
Porter said that such people can be hard to find. The right candidate needs strong computer skills and must be well organized and personable with people over the phone. They should schedule your appointments, help order materials, phone customers, handle complaints, process paperwork, and stay on top of bookkeeping. Such a person is going to make close to what a foreman would earn, which would be $15 to $25 an hour in most markets.
“If you hire the right person, they are going to tell you what to do,” Porter said.