To win a contract without low bidding, a landscape contractor needs to appeal to their clients’ emotional needs. Low numbers will always be attractive, so it is up to you to prove to your potential clients that it is in their best interests to invest in solid, innovative and reliable work rather than focus on the price tag.

That’s what Mark Bradley, the CEO of TBG Landscape, has figured out.

Bradley begins by surveying his clients’ houses to gauge their tastes and aesthetics. Then, after assessing the various landscape and design services that may interest the client, Bradley devises a list of options to propose. When it comes time to suggest these services along with addressing the necessary cost factor, however, Bradley holds off on immediately presenting any numbers.

“Rather than saying ‘I’ll come back to you with a price,’ say ‘what I would like to do is take the time to help you with budgeting’,” Bradley explains.

Like Bradley, how can you win a bidding war without even bidding? He shares three tips you can follow.

1. Pick up on your clients’ unspoken needs.

Bradley always begins by examining his clients’ homes because the paint and decor they choose often says more than the clients themselves do. That is exactly why you need to make yourself acutely aware of what type of wall hangings and light fixtures your clients prefer. Knowing your clients’ styles makes you more educated on the type of offerings that would suit your client, and a more detail-oriented, perceptive contractor will almost always beat out a lowball offer. Understanding your clients’ preferences and truly listening to them are the first steps in winning the bidding process without even bidding.

“Creating that uncommon image comes from the questions you ask but also the answers,” Bradley discusses. “You can become the expert very quickly by addressing the things they’ve talked about, showing them you were listening.”

2. Never focus on the numbers.

After you put together your client-centric plan, you have to sell the potential client on this sometimes more expensive proposal. That is why Bradley suggests not actually presenting a client with numbers right off the bat. If a client thinks you only care about the numbers, they will only care about the numbers.

He recommends sitting with clients and debating budgets and numbers, specifically focusing on the client’s expectations. Presenting numbers does not mean giving clients one “take it or leave it” option. You want to show that you are willing to accommodate the potential client.

“When you come back with a budget, always have as many options as possible,” Bradley recommends.

3. Treat every client as an individual.

Accommodating your clients also means not giving them a blanket statement. When you present your clients with a generic statement, it is clear you are only concerned with making the sale, not with what would be best for them. The lowball offers will give them the same recycled statements, so in that case they will just choose the cheapest option.

“I don’t believe we can write one proposal and use the same proposal for every customer we have,” he explains.

All of Bradley’s tips have one thing in common: putting dedication and attention into every proposal. Because, contrary to popular belief, you don’t outbid others with numbers — you outbid them with care and concern for your customers. Listen to them, personalize their proposals and let your past success speak for itself.