How good are you at selling yourself, your Company, and your work? What is your current sales process like? Do you have one, or just wing it? Have you ever studied sales, or taken any sales courses?
Selling yourself is something that many of us don't fully understand.
We think it is associated with the gift of gab.
Don't get me wrong, that does help, but selling yourself is actually related to your knowledge of your job or task.
Knowledge gives you self confidence
The relationship between selling yourself and knowledge we give below is information for people who are interested in starting a mowing business, or starting a lawn care business.
The lawn care business is one of the fastest growing sectors in the landscaping industry, and I have found myself answering many questions for people looking to get into it.
The first thing I always ask them is:
How much time have you spent studying what you need to know?
Are you good at selling yourself?
Here is how we tie the two together.
If you are new to the business, can you answer questions like this from a homeowner if you are looking for a new client?
Of course there is always how much?
This list could go on and on. These are just a few of the more common ones that you may hear from a customer. If you can't answer these, you are dead in the water before you even get to pricing.
If you don't know anything about the landscaping business how can you sell yourself? Selling yourself requires self confidence. Self confidence requires knowledge of your task or job at hand.
Many people starting in the landscaping or lawn care business have not spent enough time studying to answer client questions confidently. This makes it difficult to succeed.
The point here may be a bit harsh but, if you don't know what you are doing, the information in this article will be of little or no use to you. At this point in time it will be better to focus on educating yourself, before you can move on to developing your sales skills.
Visiting some of our our how-to modules first can help you. We also have some links to other great sites for information for you. We want to see you succeed.
The landscaping and lawncare business is also very competitive. If you wish to charge the same rates as good experienced companies, you need to be able to provide the same high quality service.
So, let's move on to your current sales process.
Let's start by noting that some business will require multiple visits. Don't mistake what is being said here for something that will work for every situation. It won't. However, there are many times (sodding jobs in particular), that can be closed on the first visit.
The key to good quality landscaping is always prep work right? The same thing goes for sales. Gathering as much information as you can before your first meeting, will help you determine what sales process will be most effective for that customer. You will know more about your customer, and be able to help them with their needs. "Helping" people is another winning ingredient in sales.
I was pretty fortunate to have seen how many landscapers operate to get their work. I was frequently invited to tag along with sales calls and analyzed their every move in my mind. Most landscapers can design a yard with all the basic design principles to make it have unity and flow.
On the other hand, their sales and presentation skills were like a waterfall. They could hold it together downstream, until it fell over the edge and splashed out of their control.
Here is an example of what I found was the most common practice of landscaper sales calls.
First, will be an initial consultation which usually involves: meeting, walking the property, measuring, and possibly sitting at a table and investigating the needs and wants of the client. Often they would also have their portfolio open to show the clients some of their work. (This is a great sales tool.) That's not bad so far, but...
They then walked away with no check or closure. They were now left to put a quote together on their free time, which the client may or may not approve of.
The reality of this is you are wasting time, money, adding stress to your day. You are also failing in communication and customer service.
Is this you? You just worked 14 hours in the hot sun. You expect your brain to function well with numbers when you go home? Maybe you could do it later in the week? (If you can do this than you are really good.)
I really wish I had the percentages of how many times landscapers actually called these people back, before the client called them. How many times have you had a client tell you that someone came over, walked and measured their yard, talked to them, and then never got back to them?
We all know what goes on out there. Be different. Make some changes now, so you can convert more leads into quality jobs.
Now let’s look at the second part of that scenario. (If you had time to do the quote and call them back.)
The second part may include faxing, calling or presenting them with some numbers.
They are no longer interested in you, just the numbers. (Especially if you are not there in person.)
If you are there in person, you have now invested time and money into two visits, and one free quote. No wonder so many landscapers get sour grapes when they don't get a job operating this way.
Most landscape professionals don't have the time to provide free quotes, and shouldn't be doing it anyway. Maybe if you get lucky, and a more skilled salesperson hasn't visited them, you may still get the job and the deposit check.
Here is the worst part of all. You have just given them a price that they are going to take to the competition to leverage for a better deal. This hurts us all. I am sure I don't have to explain why.
I am pretty sure if this is how you operate, your conversion rate is ok at best. You are probably solely relying on reputation, portfolio and just being a nice person. This is not a bad thing, and you can still have a good, profitable, and busy business. It does mean that there is room for improvement though.
Make changes now to break out of this cycle
If you sell yourself, are qualified, experienced, and professional, why did you not get the job when you left the house the first time?
Close the door on your competition by developing a more effective sales process. You do not have to be pushy to close deals. If you gather information, have an effective sales process, and present it well, you simply have to ask for the business.
This is where most people fail. They do everything they should, except ask for the business.
This should be the easiest part.
Here is an example. A salesman or owner prepares and qualifies a potential client and their needs. Then he goes through the whole process of successfully presenting himself, his fully qualified company, and his work . He leaves it with the customer by telling them to get back to him. Maybe a statement like, “Get back to me if you are interested.”
Make confident statements or closing questions to close up this work right now. We will get into this a little further into this article.
Spend more time qualifying your customers on the phone.
Many of you are also not preparing or qualifying your customers over the phone with probing questions. These will allow you to “weed out” the good from the bad. Don't waste your time with people that aren't ready to buy, or have jobs that are of no value to you and your company. This is the landscaping business, and your time is valuable.
Always make sure that you schedule appointments with the decision maker present. (This could be the husband, wife, or both together.) You don't want to give presentations if the decision maker is not even home. This could be a great waste of time and effort.
Your time is important, so make the most of it. Don't chase leads that are a waste of time. Try to have as many possible clients pre-screened over the phone as you can.
Pre-screening should be a series of questions that will allow you to decide whether or not they are ready to buy, and the work is something that you are truly interested in taking on. It will also allow you to choose the right style of presentation and what to expect when you get there.
This helps in being able to close deals on the first visit. If it is a smaller feature, or sodding job, you should always try to close these on one visit. Larger jobs can still be closed on the first visit, but can frequently require two or even three.
Adapt your selling, to the type of job you are trying to get.
Design your presentation properly and have more than one if you can. Not all jobs are the same. Having a sales presentation for basic sod jobs, will have a different focus than that of one where you think they will want design, install, and maintenance.
Phone Retention Skills
If you are going to improve your sales skills in person, you also need to work on your phone skills to get the appointments. Try to get more information than you give on the phone. Stay in control of the conversation, and don't stray off track. Your goal is to qualify them as a buyer, and get the appointment. Once you get the appointment, you know that you have the sales skills to solidify the deal.
Don't quote anything over the phone. Always stress the importance of having to walk/measure a property to give accurate estimates. If you think they are a qualified buyer, then don't waste any time. Schedule an appointment right now.
Whether you are a designer, landscape installer, a maintenance company, or a full service company, you will benefit from a having a little more structure in your sales process.
So make sure you are knowledgeable in your field. It will make you so much more comfortable with selling yourself. This is an important step when dealing with your landscaping customers.
Table of Contents: Sales Tips
E. Follow Up