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The Biggest Reason Leads Don’t Turn to Sales

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Business Advice

Going into summer, Dan was revisiting his sales budget… and getting a little concerned. While he and Bill were leaving an association board meeting, they got to chatting. Dan shared his current sales, and reminded Bill of his budget goals. 

“I’m getting nervous we’re going to come up a little short this year.”, said Dan. “I’ve had lots of interest from customers, but they are far more price sensitive now versus 3 or 4 years ago. Back then, they didn’t care about price, they just wanted to know how soon I can start.”

Dan continued…“I find myself pricing more jobs than ever, but losing more jobs than ever to people going with cheaper estimates. Everyone seems so much more focused on price these days.” Bill agreed with Dan. People were more guarded with their money.

Given the change, Bill asked Dan what he’d done to react. “So given the change, “ asked Bill “what have you done to react to it? Are you selling differently, or selling like you’ve always sold?”

Dan thought for a minute, but Bill was right. He hadn’t changed much, and his closing rate was much worse than a few years ago. At least half his leads went with what they felt was a lower price.

But Bill had another angle on the lowest price issue. “Believe it or not, Dan, I don’t believe price is the biggest reason customers go elsewhere. Price is the #1 excuse, but in my experience, the biggest mistake I made was the way I tried to sell each customer. I had one sales approach. But selling isn’t so much about the salesperson as it is about the customer.” 

“Figuring out how to sell each customer was when I really turned my sales around. Different customer types need different sales approaches. And I’m no psychiatrist, but you can teach yourself to be competent at this in one evening. As we go through these, write down each type as a heading across the top of the page. Tonight – think up every friend and relative you know and write their name under the type that suits them best. By the time you’re done, you’ll be well on your way to mastering this. Consider these four basic customer types:”

Amiables…

“Amiable customers have a basic need to feel safe, and to get approval from others. They need to trust their relationship with you…they need more talking and lots of listening. They’ll often ask you questions like “Well, what would you do?”. They need to check with others to feel confident in their decision. They value how much they can trust you as much or more than the bottom line price.”

How To Sell Amiables: Meet them on site – and book extra time for your meetings. Become a trusted advisor. Offer suggestions. Explain your guarantees, your warranty, your superior service and other customer’s testimonials. Show off your portfolio. Give amiables your cell number and don’t worry – they won’t want to disturb you. 

How To Kill The Sale: Push for the sale too quickly. Show up when they’re not home to do site visits. Email or mail your quotes. Don’t follow up. Give them too many options – expect they know what they want. 

Analyticals…

“Analyticals need to make the right decision. They want information, specifications, guarantees, warrantees and testimonials. They are interested in how you are going to do the work and want details on the plants or materials you are installing. They will get multiple estimates to help them make the right decision. They are the most likely to focus on price, but are ultimately looking for the most value for their money.”

How To Sell Analyticals: Detailed estimates and drawings, plant information packages, company history and testimonials.  Build detailed descriptions and information into your estimates, including quantities, specifications, guarantees. Demonstrate your value over lower price competitors – the more numbers and words, the better. Show them the risks in their project, and how your company will control them. Analyticals will drive a Lexus – but it’s because they believe it’s the best value in its class.

How To Kill The Sale: One page estimates – quick prices with no details. Talk up your company and its services, but don’t put anything in writing.  Use sketches instead of designs. Show up at sales meetings without leaving them with information they can read after you’re gone. Don’t give them time to process information before making a decision.

Drivers…

“Drivers are typical entrepreneurs – fast-moving, risk-takers, and their basic need is to be in control. They will ask direct questions that test your competency and put you on-the-spot. Drivers like to talk more than listen. When they are listening, they’re not in control. Drivers want to work with someone who is competent, gets right to the bottom line and is organized. Drivers will value competency and confidence over price.”

How To Sell Drivers: Talk less, listen more. Send more time preparing for meetings and less time in meetings. Show up very organized, and get right to the point. Give them options – options let drivers retain control. Be willing to meet their schedule. One page summary estimates and quick emails and conversations work well.

How To Kill The Sale: Spend more time talking then listening. Give long-winded descriptions of your company and technical details. Long estimates, descriptions or letters. Take your time calling them back, or worse, forget to call them back. Be unprepared and unorganized in meetings. Miss deadlines.

Expressives…

“…are all about communication. They’ll often start your first meeting with a story about their personal lives, or about the history of their property.  Expressives change subjects a lot and drift from topic to topic. They are “big” thinkers and like to be trend-setters; they want to impress others. Many contractors quickly grow frustrated with expressives, because they don’t seem serious or they tie them up in small talk, but when you’ve established a relationship with an expressive, they act fast and make quick decisions.”

How To Sell Expressives: Book extra time for meetings. Listen, and spend time in conversation – about the job, or life, or anything. Build a relationship. Tell stories. Show off your portfolio and your awards, and tell the stories behind the job. Use descriptions in your estimate – your proposal needs to accurately re-word their ‘vision’ back to them and articulate how your company will fulfill it best. Highlight why their job is unique or interesting.

How To Kill The Sale: Rush the sale. Ignore or hurry small talk. Give estimates with technical data instead of written descriptions. Give them ‘standard’ projects or proposals.

Bill summed up the importance of selling to your customer’s type. “I used to sell every customer analytically. I’d give them all the information I would look for when I was buying. But that was working more than half the time.  I’d give the driver this long explanation of the way we work and details of their pricing – but they saw my approach as wasting their time and stealing their control. But that same bottom-line, to-the-point approach that would work with a driver would ruin the sale with an amiable, who’s looking to build a trusting relationship with their contractor – they want to spend more time getting to know you and your work.”

“Price will always be an issue, but it’s not always the issue you think it is. Try adjusting the way you sell your jobs based on your customer’s personality – not yours. See if your closing rates don’t take a big leap forward.”  

Mark Bradley is the president of The Beach Gardener and the Landscape Management Network. The Landscape Management Network is software and tools for landscape contractors, from budgeting and estimating, to policies and procedures and online training for employees. For more information, check out www.landscapemanagementnetwork.com.

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