Sales shift

Tony Pope tweaked the way his business development staff was treated, and that change caused more than 50 percent growth.

When business development managers were leaving Ecoscape too often, owner Tony Pope had to make changes at the company.
Photo courtesy of Ecoscapes

When business development managers at Ecoscapes were leaving at a much more rapid rate than any other positions at the company, CEO Tony Pope and his team chalked it up to the nature of sales positions. Pope says the company didn’t have one business development manager who stayed at the Huntsville, N.C.-based company longer than a year. But after one sales manager, whom the team spent a lot of time and resources developing and had promoted, left, Pope and his executive team began to look at the company as the problem.

“We were griping about it and I said, ‘When are we going to take responsibility that we can’t keep somebody here long enough to be part of our team? Let’s look in the mirror,’” he says.

So Pope hired consultant Mike Weinberg to help solve the problem. He found that the sales team felt isolated.

Addressing that has helped the company achieve 57 percent growth and land at number 94 on our Top 100 list, with $20.6 million in revenue.

“It was the culture of making sure the salespersons feel part of the team more,” Pope says.

“Maybe sometimes they felt like they were on an island because operations didn’t have time to help them do this or measure a property.”

The company also switched from doing group sales meetings to individual sales meetings.

The individual meetings lasted no longer than 30 minutes and an agenda was established before the meeting. If sales were good, then the salesperson was congratulated and the meeting was over. If not, then meetings went longer and those involved tried to find out what went wrong.

“You get the group sales meeting and everyone clams up,” he says.

Weinberg also stressed the importance of cold-calling potential clients by phone and in person.

“We’d get a couple opportunities and we’d go 100 percent focus on those opportunities and we’d stop the cold calling because we were trying to sell the jobs,” he says. “If they sold or didn’t sell, once that activity ended we didn’t have anything to replace it because we haven’t been focused on cold calling.”

With all the changes, Pope says there has been no turnover the past 18 months in the sales department.

“It feels like everything is clicking,” he says. “We just needed some tweaking a little. Sometimes it’s good to have an outside set of eyes. Never be afraid to hire a consultant.”

In December of 2016, Pope was acquired by Yellowstone Landscape companies, which is number 15 on our list and headquartered in Bunnell, Florida. Pope will stay on as a vice president, and says the Ecoscape name will not change immediately.

“It’s quite a good fit,” he says. “I’ve enjoyed working with them.”

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