This article was originally published in Turf Magazine, where Chad writes a monthly article offering sales and marketing tips for green industry companies.
It may be the salesperson’s job to close deals, but it’s the responsibility of your entire team to grow the business. Successful green industry companies know that bringing in new contracts and increasing the value of existing accounts takes more than a compelling presentation and a clever closing technique. It takes a total team effort.
Even with a sales superstar, there are limits. There’s only so much time in a day, and an individual can only do so much. Instead of relying solely on your sales people, empower your production team to source quality leads. This will help your sales team prioritize opportunities and spend time working those most likely to close.
Over my past couple decades in the green industry, I’ve seen this happen. In fact, I’ve been on all sides of this, from production, to selling, to administering an initiative for such a collaborative effort. Internal lead programs are, in my opinion, one of the most underutilized and most effective ways to grow your green industry business with a great return on investment.
Steve Jobs said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Customers ignore and don’t even notice problems on their property. They could be doing the limbo under a low-hanging tree branch for two months and not think twice about calling someone to prune their tree or expand their mulch beds. Those low-hanging branches are low-hanging fruit to grow your business. All your production team has to do is start a conversation with your customer.
If you’d like to empower your team to grow your business, or if you have an under-performing, existing lead program, here are some tips on how to make it happen:
Set SMART Goals
Just “growing your business” or “getting more leads” isn’t a SMART goal. A meaningful goal is (S) Specific, (M) Measurable, (A) Attainable, (R) Results-oriented, and (T) Time-Bound. When you sit down to develop your lead program, create written SMART goals to hold the initiative and participants to.
For instance, a SMART goal would be: Have 10 plant health care technicians each generate 20 qualified tree pruning leads, from March through November of this year, which results in 180 estimates totaling $126,000, and results in $70,000 of closed, new business this fiscal year.
(RELATED PODCAST: How to Set SMART Marketing & Sales Goals)
Develop a Compelling Incentive
Make it worth their while or they won’t participate. Trying to meet a goal of generating leads and having conversations with complete strangers, doesn’t come naturally to most production workers. This is especially true if you are stingy with what they get out of the deal. It has to be enough incentive to coax them out of their comfort zone.
How much should you offer? How about a minimum of $10-$20 for a lead that qualifies by turning into a proposal and a little something on the back-end if it sells too? Think about how many dollars it normally costs you to get a new client through traditional marketing and cough-up a worthwhile reward. Show them their short-term and long-term earning potential.
Most importantly, have the incentive focus on starting the sales process, not completing it. Let’s face it, your crew leader would be in sales if he loved to close deals. Just incentive your production team to create opportunities and get back to their primary work duties. That will keep them from being so intimidated by the process.
Train for Success
Conducting role-plays at a company-wide or departmental meeting may seem cheesy and imposing but it works. People need a constructive and safe environment to get comfortable with learning how to start conversations with prospects and clients.
Make it fun and positive. Give willing participants a small gift card or item to thank them for stepping up for a role play. See that everyone gets a chance throughout the year to practice in front of the group.
(RELATED READING: 7 Tips to Train Your Production Team to Find Quality Leads)
Promote & Celebrate
Don’t allow the lead program to become an afterthought or it will fail. Deliberately work it into regular meeting formats and publicly recognize success. Hand out cold, hard cash and let the rest of the team know just how much they could make if they chipped-in too.
Create a team reward like a party or outing if you achieve certain milestones as a team or you could even allow certain participants to partake if they achieve a certain level of involvement in the lead program.
Treat Leads Like Golden Opportunities
Nothing will take the wind out of someone’s sails quicker than when they find out the follow-up on their hot lead was met with cold indifference. Make sure someone from your office calls the prospect or customer within a couple hours, and keeps reaching out several times upon no contact. Be sure your sales team also enthusiastically meets the challenge by doing their best to get a timely estimate delivered and continuing to follow-up through the process.
Develop a Detailed Reporting & Feedback System
Anyone, at any time should be able to check in on not just the collective efforts, but the status of a lead, see contact attempts and evaluate the outcome of individual opportunities. Let your production team members know how their leads are performing, closing, and what improvement possibilities exist.
See that feedback is frequent and valuable for your team. This will help them to understand that you are taking their contribution seriously and could even inspire some friendly competition among their peers.
Fine-Tune Your Program
Creating a lead program for your production team will reveal some missteps from time to time. You won’t get it designed perfectly from the onset. You’ll realize there needs to be some level of exceptions and fine print. Have your team understand right from the beginning that changes will be made as your company tweaks the program to be fair and profitable for all parties involved.
The Ultimate Benefits
In addition to creating an initiative that will help your company grow, you are ultimately investing in people. Your team will become more connected to the vision of your company. They will appreciate how they are rewarded both monetarily and with recognition for being a team player.
And equally as important, your clients will be better served and their loyalty will be impacted. Creating a proactive team that identifies problems and solutions on your clients’ properties will position your team and your company as one that truly cares enough to take a few minutes to look up from their own responsibilities and recognize the bigger picture.
The lead program isn’t just about leading to more business. It’s about leading to deeper, long-lasting relationships for everyone involved.
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