The following is a guest post from Jeffrey Scott, business consultant, author and speaker.
In this rocky economy, more landscape companies are selling on price. In turn, price expectations are being pushed downward.
To become a landscape sales superstar and succeed against the low-ballers and shoppers, you'll need to arm yourself with new and improved sales skills.
Here are a few strategies that I guarantee will boost your sales success!
Build emotional bonds during the landscape sales process
At the heart of it, people tend to make emotional decisions, even when they use facts to rationalize their choices.
Your job is to help your prospective clients realize-from a deep emotional point of view-why they need your company and the solutions you provide.
By selling on emotion, you can remove yourself from price competition.
There are two ways to sell on emotion:
- Uncover and explore the anticipated pleasure your prospect will gain by hiring you.
- Uncover and explore the problems your prospect will solve by hiring you.
This second way is generally more powerful than the first. However, as landscape salespeople, we often focus on the wrong problems. Mistakenly, we focus on the "landscape" problem, instead of focusing on the "personal" problems that are being caused by the landscape problem.
Once you uncover the personal problems, you can then explore the "pain" this is causing your prospective client. When you do this, you help your clients make emotionally motivated (and more satisfying) decisions.
Waste less time during the sales process
Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese general and author of the world-famous war strategy book, The Art of War, taught: "The battle is won or lost before your warriors set foot on the battlefield."
This applies to all of us who have to travel to make a sales call. You want to make sure you are set up for sales success before you ever step foot on your prospect's property.
You can't afford to waste time in this new economy. Instead, arm yourself with the tools and attitude needed to reduce wasted time from bad leads and unnecessary follow-up appointments.
Ask the right questions during the sales process
A landscape sales superstar is not someone with the gift of gab. Rather it's someone with the gift of listening and asking the right questions.
You need your clients to do most of the talking-between 75 and 80% of the time-but you don't want to lose control of the conversation.
You maintain control by being the person asking the right questions-think of it like a talk show host interviewing an important guest. The guests are flattered, and yet the conversation is controlled by the effective questioning skills of the host.
Measure and manage your sales success
It is said that, "if you measure it, you can manage and improve it." In sales this means you can improve your success by measuring and holding yourself accountable to certain sales indicators.
The problem is that most landscape contractors are so busy chasing leads! They feel too busy to stop, measure, and reflect on how to improve their numbers.
At a minimum, you should track your Win (Loss) Ratio.
In my experience, many landscape contractors accept far too low of a win ratio. How can you raise the bar on your company? Identify your win ratio and compare your results with other high-achieving landscape companies in our industry.
I have found that there is a BIG difference between industry averages and those performing at ABOVE-average levels. In my landscape company we achieved win ratios between 75% and 95% on a consistent basis. Anything is possible, when you see how others are doing it.
Don't over-rely on your strengths
You have spent your life developing landscape skills in e.g. design, horticulture, disease control, hardscaping, etc. These skills have helped you make sales and win new clients. But they have also helped you lose sales and lose new clients!
When people become highly trained, they tend to over-rely on their skill set--maybe even showing off those skills to new prospects. But a landscape sales superstar understands how his/her own strengths can get in the way of building rapport--and get in the way of uncovering the core customer needs.
The client does not care how much you know, until they know how much you care (about their issues!)
Ask for the sale
No matter how good you are at building rapport and showing value, you need to master the process of "asking for the sale."
This is difficult for many landscape salespeople, and it is often done incorrectly.
Salespeople will put off asking for the sale, and even put off talking about price, for fear of being rejected. But it is in hearing your prospective client's objections that you learn what's at the core of their assumptions and misunderstandings.
You can't close a sale until you learn about and address the doubts in your client's mind.
Increase your sales success
There are four ways to measure your landscape sales success.
- More sales (of the right kind)
- Higher sales margins
- More efficient selling (as measured in a higher closing ratio)
- More free time-which you can use to spend with your current customers, your family, or your golf game!
When you analyze your landscape sales process, look for opportunities to improve in all four of these areas.
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