Sniff out a bad lead early in the process and avoid losing a serious job offer.
The past several years have been very exciting for our fast-growing lawn care company: Noon Turf Care based in Hudson, Mass. We have grown by an average of 50 percent per year since 2008 and most of the success is attributed to the way we sell and market our services.
Beginning in late 2008, we invested heavily in marketing and sales to attract new business as other competitors cut back on their business development expenses.
We acknowledge that sales leads can be generated from all type of media, but our goal is to acquire new customers at the lowest possible cost. These avenues change depending on the season but overall we found that the internet, phone and direct mail are still the best methods of gaining new customers. Referrals are fantastic and they show that your company’s service is of quality, but there is no way to grow significantly in a short period on just referrals.
Lead generation is only the beginning, using effective phoning techniques by our trained sales staff is the most essential part of making the sale.
The process. The sales department receives an average of 30 sales leads through marketing and referrals on any given spring day. These leads are great and they show interest that need to be qualified, since some are just looking for some free advice so they can manage their lawn. Others are just shopping their current lawn service to verify pricing. To create an efficient pre-qualification process for the sales team, we created what we call The Smartlawn sales process. This process entails asking the prospect a very specific set of questions to ensure that they are in fact intending to acquire a service. This process is performed over the phone without the assistance of an outside sales team and it takes minutes to complete.
Noon’s tools needed to sell a new lawn customer over the phone:
- Inside sales expert (this can be you the owner/manager) with product and industry knowledge. These sales professionals should have a hunter type personality that will always be closing.
- Sales manager to hire new reps and manage group to hit sales goals
- An updated and filtered marketing list of homeowners for your current market
- Be simple and concise
- Google Earth to measure lawn size
- A sales and service lawn care software to track client information and sales leads
- Various sales scripts based on current sales campaign and season
- Marketing plan so sales group can contribute where needed
- Existent customer up sell campaign offering clients added benefits for certain products (tree and shrub, flea and tick programs, etc.
- Closing rate metrics to grade phone employees and scale department
The first team member to set foot on a new client’s lawn is the lawn technician. This eliminates days of wasted time running unqualified sales leads and providing free evaluations to prospects that might not intend to use our service at all.
We believe in utilizing the telephone to connect the gap of interested lawn consumers to new lawn service contracts. It eliminates the step of visiting the lawn by giving a solution to the customer by telephone. This process provides the efficiency to get the first spring pre-emergent fertilizer application to the client in a timely manner. Sales leads may call in for a lawn estimate or fill out a form online for a pricing request.
This is a one-step sales opportunity that we close immediately. Our clients are busy professionals, so our goal is to make it easier to sell to qualified buyers and eliminate the rest. Urgency is the key in any sales process and especially for a seasonal lawn service. Our program is customized to customer need that creates additional value to the client.
With the Smartlawn sales process, we make it simple and every new sales inquiry is answered by our staff of sales consultants, who are equipped to respond instantly with a quote on pricing. This is accomplished through using satellite technology that measures the property to obtain the cost of service.
The sales staff consists of lawn care consultants that all have four to five years of experience selling in the lawn care industry. It enables the team to educate prospects with technical and professional information and to recommend a customized lawn program that is best tailored to their needs. Below, we outline the sales process steps that have made our company successful.
Again, there are many different methodologies in our industry to grow a residential lawn care company and we have experimented with many, but this has proven to be the most successful for us.
Step 1: Ask the prospect how they heard of our service. This allows us to turn data into information that can then be used to spend wisely on our marketing budget to maximize marketing dollars.
Step 2: Measure the prospect’s lawn on Google Earth and only measure the treatable lawn area so you are as accurate as possible.
Step 3: Offer per treatment price based on size of lawn and explain benefits of our seven- step process and superior service. Educate the prospect on our sales and service process. Our lawn consultant will identify any extreme issues while delivering the first treatment.
Step 4: Create a clean and concise sales script for the sales consultants used to close the prospect on the initial contact.
Step 5: Our sales team asks for the sale and guarantees the best price and service. They also stress how on our first service delivery, the technician will complete a lawn evaluation for the client.
Step 6: Once the prospect is sold, set up their new account with accurate detail and customized notes for the lawn technician.
The author is co-owner of Noon Turf Care.