Have you ever reached out to a colleague or business professional that has more selling experience or is more successful than you? What about asking the most successful sales representative that you know what makes them so successful? Have you ever thought about calling one of the top companies in your industry for tips or tricks of the trade?
Learning what makes others successful can increase your sales, and increase your company’s bottom line and morale as well.
I previously was in sales for a printing and marketing corporation. We had sales reps across the country and we all were on many different levels when it came to sales. Instead of hiding our secrets, we shared “best practices” and what type of customer was profitable.
Sales is definitely a numbers game that you can improve by building your own personal “toolbox.” You can do this by combining the strategies that you learn from others with everything that has worked for you in the past.
And as I’m sure you know, there are lots of sales books out there and they all guarantee their way is the right way to do sales. Many of them have great information in them so keep reading and keep learning. You can always become a better sales person. From personal experience, I can tell you that I learn something new on just about every call. I’m also constantly learning that’s worked for me in the past, doesn’t always work for me today. Every prospect and every selling situation is different to a greater or lesser degree.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to have customer service training from one of the world’s best customer service companies, The Disney Company. I also have sales training from one of the largest office superstores, Staples. I never quit learning though. I recently reached out to one of the most successful landscape sales representatives I’ve known, Dawn Tecza, from Rosborough Partners, a successful, Illinois-based, full-service landscape architecture firm. Who wouldn’t want to increase sales and build relationships with customers that would last a lifetime?
Tecza’s response was simple: “My take on all of the technology today, it’s easier to connect with people, via a text, joke, photo, whatever. But it is a fine line, too. You can’t just rely on those forms of communication. Face-to-face meetings and property walk-throughs are still the most powerful relationship builders out there.”
This is a big factor to her success in sales, she finds out what each individual customer values. Below you will find some other suggestions from Tecza along with some of the others that I have found to be valuable in selling in landscape services.
1. Be personable and be likeable. People love to do business with people they like and know. A great book called “Sales Dogs” by Blair Singer shows us that we don’t have to be the bulldog type of sales person; we can be seen more successful by being ourselves. People will recognize if you are faking it, and you will not earn their trust or business.
2. Listen. Listen. Listen. This is a tough one for me at times, but if we listen to what our customers are telling us, we will better understand their needs. What is it they like about their current provider? What do they wish they could change? Sometimes it may be little things, but if you show them that you value what they have to say it could go a long way.
3. Be generous but also be genuine with your thanks. Send handwritten thank-you cards and notes through the U.S. Postal Service (yes, that postal service) and not via email. This is a small gesture but it can make a very positive impression because it’s so unexpected. I have had two customers I never met but they decided to go with our company because they appreciated the handwritten thank you note.
4. Face-to-face still works best. Meet your prospective customers and take the time to drop in and say “Hi.” Also plan quarterly meetings with your customers to discuss what types of activities or extras may be coming up in the next few months. Bring them lunch while you are meeting; this builds relationships and trust.
5. Become part of their community. Become involved with an organization that your prospective customers participate in and find valuable for their professional development. There are many so choose wisely. Do you focus more on commercial or HOA’s? In some areas HOA’s are not widely used, but in Arizona, most residential communities are a part of an HOA. I’m making it a point to become more active in The Arizona Multihousing Association (AMA). Another valuable association for those of you in the commercial landscape business is The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA). It is a national organization but it has local chapters that where you can make valuable professional connections.
6. Keep your antennae up and learn something new every day. Read industry and even competitors’ blogs, stay abreast of what’s going on in the industry by reading the trade magazines, meet with others in your field and interview people who have a proven success record. Continue to learn what works and what doesn’t.
7. Never overlook an opportunity to follow up. Following up with your customer is the most important step to the whole selling process. How you follow up can be different for every new lead. If you call and call and call but the prospect never answers, why not stop in with a little giveaway? For example, I ordered several boxes of ChapStick from www.bulkapothecary.com along with labels. I printed our logo and contact information on the ChapStick and went to visit management companies that I can never get on the phone. Almost to the person, prospects loved it, men and women. It is also a product that people will not just throw away like a business card. Find creative ways to leave an impression on prospects, and don’t ever take your customers for granted either.