Whether you sell commercial landscaping, residential landscape design, or even lawn care treatment programs, many of your ideal prospects have something in common.
They’re networked professionals — executives, board/committee members, property managers, company owners, salespeople themselves...you name it.
They also know a lot of other people just like them.
Making new connections and developing meaningful relationships with these ideal prospects can be a particular challenge, particularly in the post-pandemic business world.
“Social distancing” and “reducing exposure” has made traditional sales methods more difficult. Commercial landscaping business developers can’t just “swing by” as easily. Homeowners have become more apt to resist face-to-face meetings.
So how do you create a network to feed your sales pipeline?
One useful solution that I see many landscaping salespeople ignoring or improperly utilizing is LinkedIn. Regardless of your current opinion on this social platform, consider the following:
- From early 2018 to Q3 of 2020 LinkedIn has grown from 546 million to 722 million active users, a 33% surge (Business of Apps).
- In Q1 of 2020, visits to LinkedIn increased 22 percent year-over-year. (LinkedIn)
- In 2019, LinkedIn was voted the most trusted network. (Business Insider)
(Read the full article on HubSpot’s blog)
LinkedIn can be a valuable tool for landscaping salespeople.
The keyword is “can”. There are hurdles that frequently get in the way of that.
In the past 5 years, I’ve focused my own professional networking efforts on LinkedIn and have learned a lot. I’ve also connected with thousands of lawn and landscape industry professionals and observed what they are doing (and not doing).
If you’d like to start using LinkedIn or improve your current success, I have 10 tips for you. These will help you create more of the sales opportunities you’re looking for.
1. DON'T Skimp on Your LinkedIn Profile - DO Optimize It
Optimizing your profile isn’t difficult. The guiding principle I would recommend when doing this is to keep asking yourself the question, “Why does this really matter to my prospect?”
Some considerations as you optimize your LinkedIn profile:
- Communicate empathy for your prospects’ real problems over your position of authority/expertise
- Use high-quality images in your profile and cover photos
- Add clear, concise info that talks about what you do, who you do it for, and where.
- Add content to the “Featured” section of examples of work you’ve done or points of interest to your prospects.
- In addition to your education and certifications, simply explain your work experience in a way that explains how you have helped people just like your prospect. Resist using industry jargon and buzzwords.
- Get happy clients/professional connections to write you recommendations.
2. DON'T Copycat Meaningless Drivel - DO Be Uniquely Interesting
You may admire industry peers. They’re good people. But don’t just copy what they do on LinkedIn. You may see some really great ideas that you want to use but try to be different.
If you follow enough green industry peers, you’ll see a lot of copycats. I’ll explain more about being uniquely interesting in my later points.
3. DON'T Only Post on Whims - DO Plan Ahead & Leave Room for Inspiration
I can’t tell you how many times I write a LinkedIn post and then delete it before I publish it. As I sit and criticize my own thoughts, I realize they sometimes aren’t the best ideas for the moment.
Now while there should always be room for spontaneity, planning ahead and filing away great ideas is a great way to approach social media.
Organize your ideas on a spreadsheet or subscribe to a social media content tool to schedule out posts. Start small and work your way up with more frequency.
4. DON'T Beg for Business - DO Become an Intriguing Resource
This may be one of the most common offenses I see….posts begging people to schedule consultations, get quotes, or set up meetings.
Focus on helping your prospect. Share useful and thoughtful content. Celebrate the privilege of helping your clients in specific ways. Share unique solutions to their problems.
I’ve always found that sales come easily when I have an “abundance mentality” and am not a typical, desperate salesperson. Couple that with genuinely wanting to help people and your prospects will be the ones begging to work with you, not the other way around.
[RELATED PODCAST: Thoughtful vs. Thoughtless Content]
5. DON'T Post Too Much or Too Little - DO Find the Right Consistency
I would recommend trying to come up with a minimum of at least two meaningful things to post each week.
You can ramp this up to 5-7, but it’s really important that you don’t overdo things if you’re neglecting any of the points in this article.
More isn’t better. Focus on quality first, then quantity. Remember there can also be too much of a good thing.
I have followed some pretty insightful people on LinkedIn but when they choose to post 3-4 times per day, my feed is completely full of them. There's a careful balance here you'll have to strike.
I have found that the best times to post to LinkedIn are Tuesday-Thursday between mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
Try this out for yourself before you make a steadfast rule. Post similar types of content at different times and days and see what seems to get the most traction for you.
6. DON'T Just Post Links - DO Post in Various Formats
There are a lot of opinions and recent studies on this topic. Here are some recommendations based on articles I’ve read and the results of users I’m familiar with:
- Don’t just post a link to an article/page. Share a brief, insightful commentary, and then tell the reader that you’re adding the link in the comments below. The link will get more visibility.
- Don’t write big paragraphs in your posts. Make each paragraph no more than 2-3 lines. The first 2 lines are the most critical.
- Ask questions or make statements that evoke emotion in the first 2 lines of your post.
- Try using emoji.
- Post images and follow the steps above to give some written context.
- Add native LinkedIn videos. These native videos autoplay in the feed and often get more views than just an external video link.
- Tag your connections and their companies in posts when it makes sense.
- Use relevant hashtags relating to your geographic market and the services you provide.
7. DON'T Post Poor Visual Content - DO Invest in Equipment & Professional Help
In addition to creating useful, compelling content as I’ve previously mentioned, my firm belief is that people are getting tired of bad-quality videos.
- Buy a gimbal (motion stabilizer) for $100-$200 and make smoother videos.
- Consider investing in professional photography/videography and/or a better camera for yourself.
- Invest in an external microphone to eliminate background noise.
Understand that creating great images and videos is an art. Some artists have stronger natural abilities but all true artists strive to become better.
8. DON'T Just Push Your Agenda - DO Become a Valuable Member of Your Niche's Community
Try to strike a healthy balance of producing your own content and interacting with that of others. Otherwise, you’re going to appear to be that guy/gal who just only talks about themselves.
Here are some ideas of how you can build a niche community:
- Like, comment on, and share the content of others with some supportive commentary.
- Create a private direct message group with active LinkedIn users. Share the links to your recent posts in that message thread and have others go and engage with your posts. Return the favor.
- Write recommendations for your connections’ profiles.
- Occasionally write a post asking your followers about how you can help them.
- Share links to your posts in LinkedIn Groups. Just don’t overdo this. If you belong to 10 groups, share one post a week to one group and spread it around.
9. DON'T Send Intrusive Direct Messages - DO Establish a Meaningful Relationship First
You know exactly what I mean. We all get these messages and they are annoying. Keep in mind that if you’re going to message someone and request a connection, become their friend first.
Don’t be that guy/gal.
Take a long-term approach to build these relationships and when they see you are unique and intriguing they will be more apt to respond to you.
10. DON'T Give Up - DO Stick With it & Be Patient
I’ve landed big clients thanks to LinkedIn but it takes time.
For me, it’s really easy to be self-critical when people don’t like, comment, or share.
However, I have been amazed when I meet green industry peers at conferences and they mention specific posts I’ve shared and why they enjoyed them.
Believe that you have something valuable to offer and develop a heart for helping people over selling to them.
Try to constantly improve. Be selfless. Have fun.
It will pay off.
Put These LinkedIn Tips into Action for Your Lawn Care or Landscaping Company
Tips are great, but nothing is going to change if you approach LinkedIn without enthusiasm and dedication.
Start today. Optimize your profile. Take some action steps to be a more active participant in the LinkedIn lawn care and landscaping community. Make some friends. Give something valuable.
And keep doing it.
Feel free to follow me on LinkedIn. Send me a connection request and tell me what you’re trying to accomplish. I’d be happy to help in any way I can.
Are you interested in creating content and resources that help connect you with your ideal prospects? If so, then schedule a meeting with us.
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