View Full Version : Prospecting new clients

12-09-2005, 10:50 PM
How many of you guys are prospecting for new clients now? Im not talking about sending out christmas cards or anything like that.

I decided i am going to start prospecting for clients, but in a slightly different way than most people in most industries are. Let me give an example.

I recently set up a new business line for my company. Great. Within a week i receive probably 10 phone calls for merchant accounts. When they call me they tell me all about their services and what that service can do for my business. So what i say to myself. Every single one of those calls sounded the same, all from different companies. I didnt even finish listening to all the messages i had gotten.

"So whats this have to do with lawncare" your asking.
How do these companies even know im interested in a merchant account? They dont. They just start right in and throw their business upon you. The same with anybody trying to make a cold call. What if instead they asked you, "What do you take into account when your selecting a merchant service provider?" This would probably throw some people off guard. I would be more willing to talk to someone, or even consider someone for business, that wanted to know my needs, and what i wanted to have done.

What im proposing to do is to call up a number of businesses each day and prospect. Im not going to be telling them what i do or what services i offer or what makes me better than the next guy. They hear that all the time. Im going to be asking them questions. Things like what they look for in a lawncare company, how they determine who they choose. Is it price? Is it company background, refrences?

I believe this will make you sound more personable and like you have a genuine interest in them. Not only that but you will now know what businesses are looking for. You will be better prepared to make a presentation and to sell yourself to them.

I will be making scripts that i will use in my prospecting. I plan on starting on this following Monday. I got this idea from my grandfather, who is a real estate agent and mortgage broker. I had been wanting to contact the property managers of businesses, but really did not know what to talk about. I had a discussion with him tonite, which was rather enlightening and hopefully you may think so as well. Sorry for the length of post, maybe some of you will be intrigued.

Please feel free to ask any questions or leave any comments.

12-09-2005, 11:37 PM
Do you know about the no call list in Indiana?

12-10-2005, 12:26 AM
Egads!!!! I thought the telemarketing days were numbered with the advent of the "Don't call me list"

12-10-2005, 01:50 AM
Try some nice postcards - they are good for target marketing and with computers you can customize them. Inexpensive to send also. People keep them and tend to call later on when they need you.

12-10-2005, 02:22 AM
Ok for one, i highly doubt if you ask for the name of the person who is the outdoor maintenance manager, and ask if they are available, they will report you for telemarketing. When you speak to the manager, you introduce yourself, who your with, than you ask them if you could have a couple minutes of their time. They say no, ok, you ask when a better time to reach them would be. As i said, your not selling your services to them... your asking questions about them. Managers and business professionals like to talk, especially about themselves. There is no problem with what so ever. If this would be the case, i dont know how anyone would survive in real estate.

Trinity Lawn Care, LLC
12-10-2005, 12:10 PM
Real estate agents do one of two things: A)They do not call the "Do Not Call List". Many of the MLS will scrub the name against the "Do Not Call List", and all you have to do is pull the # of through the MLS public record. In the public record most mls will state whether # is on the list or not. or B) They call using a survey. No this way gets a little bit more sticky. If it is in anyway misconstrued that you are soliciting that person for business then the commission can come after you. At least that is how it is in my state. As far as response believe me they have heard it all. I am not saying that you will not get business this way, because you can(and a lot). However, your response rate is not going to change from 1%-10% to 20%+. Just prepare yourself for a lot of "Not interested" and hang ups even if you are trying to talk about them. In addition, I would like to add it only takes 1 yes to make 100 nos worth your while.(it does work) By the way most real estate agents don't make it. 1 out of 10 quit within their first year, and then 1 out of 10 quit in the second year. Just my 2 cents...

12-10-2005, 12:36 PM
No most real estate agents dont make it, and neither to lawn care providers, or any business for that matter. How many businesses put their lines on the do not call list? Does the persons line im talking to have to be on the do not call list, or do they just list them all in general? If thats the case i can always use the mls as i have access to it.

12-11-2005, 08:09 PM
I guess nobody really like this idea... Well to reasure you guys about the no call list, businesses dont have it. It wouldnt make sense for them to. A business will send you a fax if they dont want any more calls from you, and if you continue, then can start in a course of action against you. Im just looking to do something new instead of being in the same track as every other lawn care provider. Oh well to each his own.

J Hisch
12-11-2005, 08:50 PM
Pro Edge, you are going to produce number beyond leaps and bounds, remember sales is not alway about being the best. Tru-Green why are they so successful? Simple marketing, they constantly work for new contacts, and are alway prospecting. Those who do not prospect, will only remain one size. Now ther are many ways to propect, calling isnt the only way. What we have found to be very successful, is a personalized survey of the property. Meaning you visit the site, note the item that need attention prepare a proposal and info about your company, send it, then follow up with call. good luck remember the more you call the more opprotunities you have to sell. you should close about 2 percent off of 125 surveys and call them at least 3 times

12-11-2005, 08:53 PM
Be careful, some people take the NO CALL telemarketing thing pretty serious. We stopped cold calling as a result. We used to send out fax blasts to many potential commercial clients. Then one day, we received a letter from a realtor's attorney advising us that we were in violation of the law (sending junk faxes).... esentially the law forbiddng insolicited fax advertising. Anyhow, he wanted $500 from us or he would pursue the charges based on larceny of paper and ink of the realtor's fax machine. Under the law, I believe they were entitled to up to $1500 or $500 per fax received. Our attorney reviewed it and advised us to pay the $500. Seemed like blackmail to me. I would guess that the realtor's attorney was a complete sleeze ball who had no real cases to work.
Anyhow, it ended our fax blasts days. For any of you that conduct this type of advertising, I understand that it is a federal law and most states have a similar law on thier books.

12-11-2005, 09:06 PM
It's not a bad idea, but even more effective might be to visit these businesses in person. I just think the sales techniques you described would work much better in person than on the phone. I know if someone called me and started asking me questions like that I'd most likely end the call, just because I wouldn't want to spend the time with it.

Trinity Lawn Care, LLC
12-11-2005, 10:01 PM
Pro Edge- I like your idea. I do believe that businesses can be on th DNC list. However, with that said, at least you are doing something about your business. If you want to grow you need to prospect. I come from a long line of business men, real estate brokers, and financial consultants. In fact, I have my lic. have practiced myself, and owned my own consulting firm at one time. I say this because I know from other threads you come from a similar background. There are plenty things you can utilize from those other industries. I was basically getting at "It's all about the #'s", and just be careful. The fines are hefty. That's all. It can work, it has worked before, and it will work for you . If you work it.

12-11-2005, 11:50 PM
Yes businesses can be on the DNC list, but the majority arent going to be. A personalized survey would take to much time, and i wouldnt get the numbers i would like. I realize calling isnt the only way, but it can be your best friend. If they say no over the phone, you can move onto another marketing technique. At least with the phone you have very little advertising expense.

My idea with doing this is finding out how commercial properties like to do business with lawn care guys. How they choose one, billing methods preferred, etc. This will then help me choose which ones to target, based on their interest level, size of account, and its location.

J Hisch
12-12-2005, 08:57 PM
Pro-edge I can see you are looking for volume. However, you say it takes to much time to do the survey, well maybe it does however that is how you get the high dollar, high revenue commercial accounts, if it only volume your looking at then just do direct mail, and hire a telemarketing firm. But if you want lower accounts with higher margins trust me when I tell you the surveys set you apart from your competition. But hey what do I know......

Az Gardener
12-12-2005, 09:59 PM
People buy from people they know and like. It's obvious you are willing to put in some time, why not be more active in associations. Every type of business has an association. You get in with one client on a board of directors and you become the flavor of the month you will have plenty to bid, multiply that times the different associations and its much like compounding interest. Just be careful what you wish for. These groups usually meet monthly and are always looking for guest speakers to educate their membership. Can you be the expert? I'm sure apartment managers, Realtors, facility management, restaurateurs, auto dealerships all have associations.

12-12-2005, 10:39 PM
Go ahead and waste their time, they will appreciate it. ?? Do you think they just sit in their office and wait to answer the phone to talk about themselves? Likely not. You are reinventing the wheel. Besides, why do they want to tell you these things... what is the benefit to them? That is what you need to ultimately sell.

12-13-2005, 07:51 AM
The benefit to them is that they have a lawn care company that knows what they need instead of just thinking they know. Why would someone have a problem with telling me what they look for in a company? Im doing the phone calls because i dont have time to vist 300 different businesses. It would be more a screening process. I can call, get an idea of their interest level, and then move from there. This isnt the end all of marketing ideas, its the start of a marketing campaign towards a business. Why show up in person, wasting time and fuel, just to find out they do their own lawncare? I will be meeting with the property managers after some interest is shown. As for the associations, i am in the chamber of commerce and joining the rotary and toastmasters.

12-14-2005, 06:20 PM
Alrite today was the first day i started to call businesses. Overall i feel it went fairly well. I think i called maybe around 20 or so businesses. I got several where the person in charge of the lawn care or property maintenance wasnt there, so id ask for a better time to call. Had one that did their own. Was told that they have it already taken care of by a couple. Dealt with a couple stupid secretaries... but overall was well worth it.

I was able to ask questions about their satisfaction in their current lawn company, what services theyre looking for, what factors they consider when choosing a lawn care, etc. I put in the name of the person i need to talk to, which is usually recieved by the secretary, into act. I create history so i know when i talked to them and include any details from the conversation. I then rank how interested they are on a scale of 10. With getting their name i will be able to send them direct mailings and so forth and know its getting to the right person. I think this is going to work out real well. Tomorrow im going to start recording the conversations. Be able to see what im saying right and wrong, and be able to include more details of the conversation in my history.

Az Gardener
12-14-2005, 09:41 PM
I think if you call someone you have to let them know if they are being recorded. I would be curious what information you are able to get, and what reoccurring problems you find. Thanks for the update hope you keep them coming.

12-14-2005, 11:46 PM
I dont think i would need to let them know they are being recorded. The recording wouldnt be used for anything other than for me to know how stupid i sound... Im just using it so i can focus on asking questions and not have to worry about writing everything down during the conversation. The recording would just be deleted after i listened to it and recieved the information i had needed. I know if say a lawyer is going to be recording you and then using the information in court or something it has to be recorded, but i dont think this is nearly the same. I think asking them to record would be somewhat of a turnoff and would be reluctant to ask any questions.

Larry Brown
12-18-2005, 12:38 AM
I think you're on the right track. What you're basically talking about doing is calling these businesses and "polling them". Instead of doing it by phone, why don't you send out a survey via a letter, introduce yourself and ask them to answer a few simple questions? If you toss is some kind of bribe (like maybe a consultation with you or a small gift for sending it back), you will get some results. Then, once you have the suvey back you can contact the ones that responded and this would not be considered "cold" telemarketing. I have used surveys successfully like this for years! A survey is an extremely powerful marketing weapon when done correctly! Good Luck with that!

12-18-2005, 10:47 AM
Well calling them by phone is much cheaper than mailing a letter to 300 businesses, giving them a gift, and paying for postage back to you. For the most part, they are generraly willing to ask a few questions, and you can really tell who would be interested or not. You sound a lot like a real estate agent with the other post you had about flyers with the "57 days to a green yard". I was considering doing this, and also having a lawn tips section on my website.

Team Gopher
12-21-2005, 02:56 PM
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Hi dsmrolla06,

First of all I do applaud you for all of your energy and experimentation. Great work.

The thing I wonder is this. Are there services you could be providing your current customer base now which could make you money?

How would your time be best spent?

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12-21-2005, 04:28 PM
I feel my time would be best spent finding new customers. Im not real experienced in lawn care, at least not near as much as most of the guys on here. I will be expanding services as i hire and gain employees that are skilled in other areas. I would rather spend my time doing other things than devoting it to becoming an expert in a certain field or service.

09-11-2007, 10:22 PM
Well, i used to work for a world wide corporation in sales.. I'd cold call any company all day long with no worries. If they ask you to stop, then stop. What your trying to do is a good idea, and yes it takes numbers, but it does generate business.
As far as mass fax blast goes, all it takes is fax authorization, documentented to make thier lawsuit meaningless. Keep a database of time/date/name/title oif person who authorized you to send them faxes. In my old line of business the gatekeeper( receptionist) was perfect for this. Call and verify the fax number with her, and let he know your going to be sending Mr. Jones some faxes. I wouldnt recommend mass fax daily or anything silly like that, but once a month works fine. Just give them a way to cancel the mass fax if they desire and your good. And yes.. if you approach the initial call right, not selling them anything, your covered.

09-12-2007, 03:18 AM
Put an ad in the paper, it's much less invasive, you'll never get a complaint and IF someone complains the paper deals with it.
In 6 years I've never had someone tell me they didn't like it :laugh:
Probably so because it's their choice, they don't have to look at it if they don't want to.

Granite Creek Landscapes
08-26-2009, 02:58 PM
I have experimented with the very same thing. Prospecting new Clients. I have found that what works best for me is to call the apartment complex, office park or whatever and ask for the name of the person in charge of making the decisions regarding the landscaping. Wait one day and call back asking directly for that person. When I get them on the phone I go through my phone script and am not actually selling on the first contact. (Did you know that on average it takes 12 attempts at contact before someone will buy from you.. for me its about 5 times) I explain that I am a local landscape professional and that my company is different. I ask if I can send them a letter about my company and get thier opinion on it a day or two later. Usually I get a yes (75% of the time). Then I get the chance to explain my services and now I have thier address and name. Remember that in commercial property management it is not if it goes to bid - it is when it goes to bid. My goal is to put my company name in front of this person as many times as I can before they open for bids. Basic Marketing.

It may not work for everyone, but it sure is working for me. Good Luck with your prospecting.

10-09-2009, 03:03 AM
tell the up front that you are soliciting for business, and may you have a quick second of their time. Most will say ok, because you were up front with them. Much more personable.

10-09-2009, 10:14 AM
A better question for getting the prospect in the jumping ship mindset is "what is one thing you wish your current service provider was doing differently?" All of a sudden, they're no longer thinking about the last eight years of decent service, they're thinking about the one time the new guy scalped the lawn right in front of the office door.

01-10-2010, 12:48 PM
I dont think i would need to let them know they are being recorded. The recording wouldnt be used for anything other than for me to know how stupid i sound... Im just using it so i can focus on asking questions and not have to worry about writing everything down during the conversation. The recording would just be deleted after i listened to it and recieved the information i had needed. I know if say a lawyer is going to be recording you and then using the information in court or something it has to be recorded, but i dont think this is nearly the same. I think asking them to record would be somewhat of a turnoff and would be reluctant to ask any questions.

i would advise you to not record phone conversations...there is a reason it is stated when a company records the call......might get you in some serious trouble