At my company, I don’t like to hear (nor do I accept) the belief that we lost out on a job because our price was too high. Sure, there are a lot of times we at Grunder Landscaping Co. do, in fact, lose a job due to price. But, here’s the problem: If we allow that to always be the reason, how do we get better? We just cut our price, right?
There’s not enough room in this story to talk about knowing your numbers and your costs but let me say this: Understanding your financials is a critical part of successful selling. Why? When you know your numbers inside and out, you are then empowered to negotiate or walk away from each and every job. After all, we are in business to make money, right? So why would you cut your price, if that price is what you need to make money? Case closed.
But that doesn’t mean price isn’t an important factor to your customers. It’s on their minds, and you can’t ignore it completely. But, if you do these three things during your sales process, your price will not matter.
1. Communicate the value
Give your prospects all the reasons for someone to do business with you. As Sally Hogshead, a talented teacher and speaker I follow says, “Sell me the Coke, not the Coke machine.” So true, but most of us talk about our trucks, our equipment, our building and our tactics. Start talking about what your clients buy, which is a beautiful backyard, a safe parking lot where tenants don’t slip on the ice, an incredible color display at the front entrance of a shopping center that creates a mood and awareness unlike no other, or a landscape that grows in beauty and value and provides a place for the business family to relax. Communicate the value and the results that make a prospect feel good about spending money with you.
In our study, price came up time and time again. It’s a primary motivating factor for homeowners to do landscape work themselves, fire contractors or just never hire them in the first place.
Getting the job is no guarantee of continued service, either. More than three-quarters of homeowners who don’t hire or fired a maintenance contractor said the service either was already or became too expensive. Sixty percent said they had to fire their contractor because their financial situation changed.
For homeowners who fired a landscaper, 31 percent did it because they found another contractor to do it cheaper. Sixteen percent fired their lawn care operator for a less expensive alternative.
2. Solve a problem
In the course of interviewing a client you find out that they can’t use or enjoy their backyard because it’s so wet. You solve that problem and you win. If a client says that, due to budget cuts, they can’t keep a manager on site babysitting a landscaper, you show them how and why they won’t need to do that and guarantee that and you win. It’s not easy to solve every problem, but the most successful selling organizations know how to do it and benefit greatly from this.
3. Show past evidence that proves you are who you say you are.
What others say about you is infinitely more impressive and convincing than what you say about yourself. For years I have collected testimonials and even the names and numbers of happy clients I can have prospective clients talk to for proof we are who we say we are.
Being a successful green industry sales professional involves a constant focus on getting better at the craft. It all starts with knowing who your ideal client is (more on that on page 12) and then following a system. The tactics I just shared work for me and they will work for you.
How to get others to sell for you:
1. Do a great job
When you do a great job for a client, a lot of good things happen. For starters, the client will most likely hire you again. And secondly, they will tell others about your firm. No company in any industry will survive if they don’t do a good job. If you do a great job, you will be the talk of the town. The difference between a good job and a great job isn’t that much. If you do what you said you will do and you follow up in person with the client afterwards, you will see clients telling others what a great job you have done.
2. Ask for help
Ask your happy clients if they know anyone who would benefit from your services. Ask your team to help you sell work by incentivizing them to sell. I’ve seen companies add sales by getting everyone in their company to understand they are all salespeople. If you’re not getting referrals, you either aren’t asking for them or you aren’t doing work that is great enough for someone to feel compelled to help you sell some work.
3. Network like crazy
Make sure each and every week you and your sales team are spending time building relationships with people who either can do business with you or know people who can do business with you.
The author is owner of Grunder Landscaping Co. and a columnist for Lawn & Landscape. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.