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There’s no doubt the landscaping business has changed in recent years. In 1986, when U.S. Lawns was founded, the commercial market was less crowded, less competitive and something of an untapped resource.
Today, that’s changed dramatically, due in part to the recent recession and the low startup cost of a one-truck operation. (One-truck operators are more of a factor in the residential sector since business customers tend to hire based on reputation and referral.)
And there’s another thing: the Internet has drastically altered the way we sell to prospective clients. This is true in all industries, not just ours. In fact, recent B2B statistics show that prospective customers pass through about 60 percent of the sales process before ever contacting a sales rep. This means they are most likely engaged in digital research to get their information, rather than talking to a live person.
If customers are now qualifying landscape companies, just as much we are qualifying prospective clients, what does this mean for the marketing and sales process? It means we are no longer dealing with the customer of 1986, or even 2006. Today’s customers are more knowledgeable about our industry. By the time they become a prospect, they may have already made a decision on whether or not your company might be a good fit for them.
Interacting with today’s customers mean changing a few things about your sales process:
- Become a source of insight, not just someone selling product. People come to the sales process already educated, and with certain points of view. In other words, today’s customers are educated. They need more knowledge, and more compelling reasons to help them make a decision.
- Remember that customers may already be familiar with you, too. That’s why building your brand in the community is so important. If you’re already known as someone who provides great service, has strong testimonials and gives back, that’s going to help you more than ever.
- Provide a “personal touch”. Anyone can look competent on a website, but facts and data only tell part of the story. Nobody can fully demonstrate the core values of a company online. It takes an in-person meeting with someone who believes in the promise of true customer service.
If you nurture your prospects and focus on building relationships, those personal interactions should weigh strongest of all in helping to close a sale.
Brandon Moxam is director of brand development for U.S. Lawns, based in Orlando, Florida.