Keep the 2-2-1 concept in mind when talking with prospects. It is how I remember to put the customer first and myself second. The concept means that we have two ears, two eyes and one mouth. If we use all of them properly we can win customers and win jobs. In other words, listen more than you talk.
By listening you discover what your customers value and what they expect to gain from what you can offer them. You learn why they're taking time out of their day to talk to you. You learn about the pain that they're experiencing with their present landscape maintenance provider.
They will reveal all of this and more as a result of you asking them a few intelligent questions. Start by asking what they like about their current vendor. What don't they like about their vendor? How do they feel when they survey their property? What's important to them?
Don't talk yourself out of a sale. Let customers know that you value their opinions and their time. Take notes and repeat what you've found out during your discussions with them. Keep the focus on the them by showing your desire to help solve their particular landscape issues. Give examples of how you have helped other customers. This will build trust and rapport.
Before you leave, set up another appointment. If they have asked you to bid their job, set up a time to meet to go over the specifications. This helps to ensure you include everything in the bid. Equally important, it gives you an opportunity to build stronger relationships with them.
Finally, here's a strategy that I've found useful. It's called mirroring. It can help prospects feel comfortable with you, and it lets them know you are listening to them. If your customer is formal, be formal as well. Or if you know your customer is relaxed and appears to be relaxes, match that and be relaxed, too. Remain professional though; don't become too casual or chummy and come off as arrogant or unprofessional. That will kill any chance of building a relationship with them.
Lori DeRoche is co-founder with her father, James, of Tandem Landscape Services in Phoenix. She also offers consulting services within the landscape industry. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.