Many landscape business owners reach a point where their companies have plateaued in growth and they are frustrated with the fact that their personalities and drive don’t have the same level of impact that they once did.
Now that their businesses have reached a certain level of growth and success, they need to rely on their teams of sales and service professionals to help them get their companies to the next level. They need to do this with less of a reliance on the owner/manager to run daily sales operations. The good news for them is these are great problems to have, but they will need to create a paradigm shift within their companies to achieve this goal.
When standardizing and improving your sales department, ask yourself the ultimate question: “What is your company’s value proposition?” Due to the competitive nature of the landscape industry (like most mature industries), it is essential for companies to clearly understand what it is that makes them different and better than their competitors. What are the features and benefits their company offers that differentiate them? This might be the level of service they offer, the quality of products they use or certain proprietary technologies they may leverage in order to deliver an exceptional product or service to their customers.
You would be surprised how many landscape contractors cannot answer this question. I can certainly relate to this as I once stood in their same shoes with my lawn care company. As your company grows and jobs are added, it is easy for business owners and their employees to lose sight of what has made them such great companies. In most cases, it is not that they don’t have competitive advantages over their competitors. The problem they face is that they haven’t clearly defined and written down their value propositions and they haven’t taken the time to consciously think about what it is that makes their companies unique and different. Most of the business owners have never needed to as they are the ones out in the field or on the phone selling their services to potential buyers, so selling these features comes second nature to them.
Problems tend to arise when they start to build their sales, service and production teams, and their value propositions and sales messages become lost. As a result, a company can quickly lose its identity and uniqueness, which can negatively affect their pricing, reputation and morale. So how can business owners avoid this as their company grows? More importantly, how can business owners command premium pricing without losing that next sale? They need to constantly communicate what their company does differently or better on a daily basis to their employees, vendors and customers. Once your competitive advantages are proudly shared with your entire company, the confidence of the entire organization dramatically increases and your message spreads like wildfire.
So while we’re in the crazy spring season of sales, I ask you this question: What is your company’s value proposition? What are the unique features of your business that provide the advantages needed to beat out your competitors and command higher prices? Once you have thought long and hard about this, the next step is to take this message and compound it 10 times by sharing it with everyone else. This exercise can be applied to any company no matter how large or small it is. Keep in mind that the formula of how much you charge for something is based on your ability to sell it. Below are some tips on how you can do this.
1. Write it down. Take the time to think and write down your value proposition. It is important to have your company’s competitive advantages written down in as many places as possible within your company, whether it be your company’s training handbooks, website and anywhere else you can convey this message.
2. Sell your employees first. In order for your employees to be 100 percent dedicated to your company’s mission, they must first believe in what they are selling, producing or servicing. Invest the time in communicating with them what purpose your company serves to the marketplace. What needs are you filling for your customers and how does this make you different from the rest of the herd?
3. Include your value proposition in your sales presentation. Once your company’s value proposition is clearly defined by your leadership team, be sure you or whoever is selling includes all of the benefits your company has to offer to your sales prospects. Take the time to highlight the benefits offered by your company and never assume that the sales prospect already knows what differentiates your company.
4. Market your value proposition. Make sure to include this message on all of your marketing materials so that by the time you are ready to sell to a prospect they are already familiar with your value proposition. Be sure that this message is clear and consistent from the very first time you market to them until the day you close them as a new client.
5. Reinforce the message. While managing your company, spread the word and live what makes your company great every single day. It is your responsibility as the leader of your company to cheer your team on and to remind them of your company’s unique qualities.
6. Innovate. As we all know, business is fluid, and markets and the needs of customers are changing every day, so as business owners we constantly need to be adapting to the needs of our customers. During this process it is important to be open to innovation in order to remain relevant to your customers while fulfilling their needs.