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Mastering the Art of Recruiting: Hiring Top Sales Talent for Your Landscape Company

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Industry News

Hiring the right salesperson and putting them in the right system can really help fill your business pipeline. Here are a few things to consider before making the hire.

Landscape leaders ask me my thoughts on adding sales people almost daily. I suppose it comes my way because I can often be found talking about growing sales by selling higher revenue per hour work. I always hesitate to answer this question because it is so difficult to get right for such a broad industry with so many scenarios at play. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are getting started or refining your sales team.

Define the Role

Clearly outline the responsibilities, goals, and expectations for the salesperson. Determine whether they will focus on residential or commercial clients, specific services, target markets, etc. Make sure that you have your target market clarified and documented and make sure you identify who the decision makers are so that your salesperson can efficiently learn who the buyer persona is and how to approach them effectively.

Identify Desired Skills and Qualities

Consider the skills and qualities necessary for success in the role. This should include sales experience, knowledge of landscaping or related construction industries, excellent communication skills, negotiation abilities, and a customer-centric approach. Many of us landscapers are selling our work on our own as start ups, there is a magic to this for some reason. Despite the fact that we may not be great sales people we find pretty good results because we are so well informed about the work and the customer appreciates the expertise. So ask yourself if you are good at sales or a trusted expert? Make sure that you are aware of this when you onboard your new salesperson, they may not be able to gain the trust the same way that you did as the owner operator. They will need more sales processes and better tools to offset the knowledge gap when they are selling for you.

Create a Job Description

Develop a comprehensive job description that includes details about the role, qualifications, responsibilities, and any specific requirements. Highlight what makes your company unique and attractive to potential candidates. List the base wage and the “on target” earnings including the commission or bonus you will pay if they meet the sales targets you have in mind. Personally, I think that salespeople should be paid based on revenue, actual earned gross profit, and revenue per hour. I think the salespeople should be paid a high base wage to ensure they help manage customer care and efficiency to ensure that the work is profitable for everyone involved. By aligning the sales commission with these components it is easier to align salespeople with crews and company owners success metrics so that everyone in the company does better with more revenue, more gross profit, and higher revenue per hour work that ensures crews hit targets earlier in the year without working more and more hours.

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Advertise the Position

Utilize various channels to advertise the job opening. This may include online job boards, social media platforms, industry-specific websites, and local community boards. Networking within the industry can also help you reach qualified candidates. Don’t be afraid to spend a few dollars on promoting the job ads or potentially working with a recruiting firm. This is an incredibly important role, certainly not a place to save money. The return on your time invested in seeking the right person is beyond exponential.

Review Applications and Resumes

Once applications start coming in, carefully review each one to identify candidates who meet the criteria outlined in the job description. Look for relevant experience, skills, and a track record of success in sales roles. 

Conduct Interviews

Schedule interviews with promising candidates to learn more about their background, experience, and suitability for the role. Ask specific questions to assess their sales skills, industry knowledge, and cultural fit with your company.

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Assessment

During the interview process, incorporate practical exercises or role-playing scenarios to evaluate candidates’ sales skills. This can provide valuable insights into their approach, communication style, and ability to handle different situations. When hiring a salesperson for a landscape company, look for candidates with a combination of relevant experience, skills, and qualities that are conducive to success in the role. Here are some specific experiences to consider:

  • Sales Experience: Prior experience in sales, preferably in a related industry such as landscaping, construction, or home improvement, is valuable. Look for candidates who have a proven track record of meeting or exceeding sales targets.
  • Industry Knowledge: Familiarity with the landscape industry, including understanding of landscaping products, services, trends, and customer needs, can be beneficial. This knowledge enables the salesperson to effectively communicate with clients and provide solutions tailored to their requirements.
  • Customer Relationship Management: Experience in building and maintaining strong relationships with customers is crucial. Look for candidates who demonstrate excellent interpersonal skills, empathy, and the ability to understand and address customer concerns. Find people who understand how to create strategic partnerships with builders, real estate agents, property managers, and retailers of related products or services.
  • Negotiation Skills: A successful salesperson should possess strong negotiation skills to close deals and secure favorable terms for the company. Look for candidates who can effectively negotiate pricing, contracts, and other terms while ensuring customer satisfaction.
  • Communication Skills: Effective communication is essential in sales roles. Look for candidates who can articulate ideas clearly, listen actively to customer needs, and adapt their communication style to different audiences.
  • Problem-Solving Abilities: Salespeople encounter various challenges and objections while interacting with customers. Look for candidates who demonstrate strong problem-solving abilities and can think creatively to overcome obstacles and find solutions.
  • Results Driven: Seek candidates who are driven by results and are motivated to achieve sales targets and objectives. Past success in meeting or exceeding sales quotas is a positive indicator of a candidate’s results-oriented mindset.
  • Adaptability and Resilience: The sales landscape can be dynamic and unpredictable. Look for candidates who are adaptable to changing circumstances, resilient in the face of rejection or setbacks, and can maintain a positive attitude under pressure.
  • Technology Proficiency: In today’s digital age, proficiency with sales technology tools such as CRM software, email marketing platforms, and presentation software can be advantageous. Look for candidates who are comfortable using technology to streamline sales processes and enhance productivity. If you are looking for install sales, make sure they are capable of designing. I think landscape design & build salespeople need to be capable of providing solutions on the spot and motivating the prospect to move ahead with a design after the first meeting. 

Check References

Contact references provided by the candidates to gain further insight into their work ethic, performance, and compatibility with your company culture. Ask specific questions related to their sales abilities and past experiences and fact check the claims made during the interview process. Finding an honest salesperson should be your priority, after all – they will be making promises on your behalf every day!

Consider Cultural Fit

Evaluate how well candidates align with your company’s values, mission, and culture. A salesperson who shares your company’s vision and values is more likely to thrive and contribute positively to your team. The entire company needs to know, like, and trust your salesperson if you want to maintain a great culture. A bad apple in sales will quickly lead to morale problems throughout the company. This person will be the tip of the spear, if they are not sharp the rest of the company will suffer.

Offer Employment

Once you’ve identified the right candidate, extend a job offer outlining the terms of employment, including salary, bonus, commission, benefits, vehicle allowance, expense budgets, and any other relevant details such as annual and monthly sales quota. Be prepared to negotiate terms if necessary.

Provide Training and Onboarding

Once the salesperson accepts the offer, ensure they receive thorough training and onboarding to familiarize them with your company’s products, services, processes, and systems. This will set them up for success in their new role. Onboarding a salesperson effectively is crucial for setting them up for success and ensuring they can quickly become productive members of your team. Here’s a few things to remember to help you onboard a salesperson for your landscape company:

Welcome and Orientation

  • Extend a warm welcome to the new salesperson on their first day.
  • Provide an orientation to familiarize them with the company culture, values, mission, and organizational structure.
  • Introduce them to key team members, including the management team, finance team, sales colleagues, designers, estimators, department managers, crew leaders and all field staff.

Provide Training and Resources

  • Offer comprehensive training on your company’s products, services, and solutions. This may include hands-on demonstrations, product knowledge sessions, review estimates, job costs, designs, equipment awareness training, and access to informational materials for the specific work you specialize in.
  • Provide training on sales techniques, methodologies, and processes specific to your segment of the landscape industry and target market.
  • Offer access to sales tools and resources, such as training to use your CRM & estimating software, sales collateral, marketing materials, and pricing guides. At LMN, we offer software training every week year round for new hires and team development.

Set Clear Expectations

  • Clearly communicate performance expectations, sales targets, and goals for the salesperson. These should be tied to department and crew budgets to ensure that the salesperson is clear on who they are supporting and who they will be working with regularly to ensure mutual success.
  • Provide a detailed job description outlining their responsibilities, KPIs, and key performance metrics. Often landscapers do not have sales metrics in place when they hire their first salesperson. At minimum a company needs to have sales targets set out for the year with a monthly breakdown. Ideally this turns into a pipeline target based on a close rate with a factor for the sales cycle. This allows the salesperson to understand how much revenue they need to submit via proposals each month to hit the target factoring in the close rate and the time to close.
  • Discuss the sales territory or target market they will be focusing on and any specific objectives related to those areas. A strong focus on route density should always be factored into the process for reps that are selling recurring service contracts.

Shadowing and Mentorship

  • Pair the new salesperson with an experienced mentor or buddy who can provide guidance, support, and insights into how you operate.
  • Encourage shadowing opportunities where the new salesperson can observe experienced colleagues in action, learn best practices, and gain practical insights into the sales process.

Role-specific Training

  • Provide role-specific training tailored to the salesperson’s responsibilities and objectives. This may include training on conducting client consultations, preparing proposals and designs, handling objections, and closing deals.
  • Provide constructive feedback and coaching to help them refine their skills and overcome any challenges.
  • Conduct regular check-ins each week in a one hour meeting to assess progress, address any concerns, and provide ongoing support and guidance to optimize the results, and be patient – this will take longer than you would like unfortunately. Be sure to review the pipeline metrics to ensure they are clear on expectations for the volume of estimates needed to reach the sales goals.

Practice and Feedback

  • Encourage the new salesperson to practice their sales pitch, presentations, and objection handling techniques.
  • Offer guidance on how to effectively use sales tools and technologies, such as CRM systems, pricing software, prospecting tools, and presentation software.
  • Conduct regular check-ins each week in a one hour meeting to assess progress, address any concerns, and provide ongoing support and guidance to optimize the results, and be patient – this will take longer than you would like unfortunately. Be sure to review the pipeline metrics to ensure they are clear on expectations for the volume of estimates needed to reach the sales goals.

Set up Performance Metrics

  • Establish clear performance metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the salesperson’s progress and success. These need to be set before getting started so that you have clear expectations before starting to sell. Sales Target, Gross Profit, Net Profit, Revenue Per Hour threshold, Pipeline Estimated, Close Rate, and many other metrics are important to understand up front.
  • Regularly review performance metrics each week with the salesperson to track their performance, identify areas for improvement, and celebrate successes. A deeper meeting monthly is needed to drive continuous improvement efforts when gaps are identified.

Encourage Continuous Learning

  • Foster a culture of continuous learning and development by offering opportunities for ongoing training, workshops, and seminars to fill the gaps and create more opportunities.
  • Encourage the salesperson to stay updated on industry trends, market developments, and sales best practices through self-study and participation in relevant product training workshops, trade show events or conferences.

Provide Ongoing Support

  • Be available to provide ongoing support, guidance, and mentorship as the salesperson navigates their role. Try not to forget that it took you many years to become a trusted expert as a landscape professional. This person will need time to catch up even if they are very experienced.
  • Address any challenges or concerns promptly and offer solutions or resources to help them overcome obstacles. Do not let the setbacks go unnoticed, use today’s problems as lessons. All too often owner operators are quick to complain about staff mistakes without using them as a learning opportunity.
  • Foster open communication and create a supportive environment where the salesperson feels comfortable seeking assistance and feedback. The last thing you need is for people to start guessing because they are afraid to look inexperienced.

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Celebrate Milestones and Successes

  • Recognize and celebrate milestones, achievements, and successes along the way.
  • Acknowledge the salesperson’s contributions to the team and the company’s overall goals to boost morale and motivation.

By following these steps, you can effectively hire a salesperson who will drive growth and success for your landscape company. Remember to invest time and effort into the hiring process to find the best candidate for the role and plan to invest plenty of your time over the first year to help refine your sales process and fully develop your sales people. Never forget how important the role is in your company. Every dollar that is sold dictates the future of your company. If your work is not sold properly it is impossible to win. If the work is sold with the wrong overhead and profit mark ups, wrong number of hours for each task, or the wrong type of work for your skills and equipment you will feel the pain for many months ahead. This quote comes to mind.

Abraham Lincoln

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

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