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Do you "ask for the sale?"

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by JimLewis, Aug 20, 2007.

  1. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    I don't know how many of you guys have been formally trained in general sales techniques, etc. But if you ever have, one thing they often teach you is to "Ask for the sale!" They also tell you to be persistent. "Don't hear the first 3 No's you get." etc....

    How many of you guys actually try that kind of stuff when you are giving a big bid? Do you really use those cheesy lines at the end like, "So, Mrs. Jones. Have I earned your business today?" or "Our next opening is the 27th. Should we go ahead and book you for that date?" or "So if I've answered all your questions, is there any reason why you wouldn't go ahead and have us do the work?" ..... stuff like that.

    I don't know. I just don't feel comfortable doing that kind of stuff. It feels too much like a used car salesman. My approach is totally different. I just give the best presentation I possibly can and then after it's obvious that I've answered all their questions, I just act like I have somewhere important to be (and I almost always do). I pack up my stuff and head out the door and never even think about asking them for the sell on the spot. I always leave with something like, "Well, it was nice to have met you. Give us a call if we can do something for you." and I leave it at that.

    Every once in a while I wonder if I would have landed that job if I'd been more aggressive at closing time. But for every time I wonder that, I have another 10 bids that I give where I feel like the reason I won the bid was precisely because I wasn't more aggressive.

    I guess I feel like the best sales approach is to impress the customer in every way possible and then just leave them wanting more. Not cocky. Not arrogant. Just an attitude like, "Well. We're going to be plenty busy with or without you. And now I've got to run. But we'd like to earn you as a customer too. Let me know what you decide...." That kind of confidence, I think, makes you very attractive to a homeowner trying to decide between various contractors.

    My approach has been working real well. We are growing by 40-60% every single year. But I am just curious if some of you put a little more pressure on than I do and how well it works.
  2. Mike33

    Mike33 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,649

    I have been using the " Thank you for allowing me to bid your project and if we are not able to do business on this item i wish you well and best of luck with your project'. I had one job i bidded had a unique sitting on mt. top no water and i heard horrror stories about how deep they had to drill for water. I was bidding a srw and a pita garden wall i didnt really want. I told them even if ididnt get the job to leave me know how deep the well was drilled. They called me back to thank me for my bid but they was going to have someone else do the job due to they could come quicker, but replied about having to drill 1600 feet for water. I also got an invitation for deer hunting on there property. Some times the best jobs are ones you dont get, i really didnt want this job but established a relationship with these people and was told they would always keep me in mind for future work.
  3. markam70

    markam70 LawnSite Member
    from USA
    Posts: 223

    Same here. I try to sell myself and my company, not the job and leave with them wanting us to do their project, not us wanting to do their project.
  4. AL Inc

    AL Inc LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,218

    Jim, I also hate coming off like a used car salesman, I pretty much have the same outlook on sales that you do. And it seems to be working for you, so I don't see the need to use the cheesy lines.
  5. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,943

    Your target market will dictate your sales style. A hard close (aka a car dealership close) is a lot more vital if you're selling to the bottom 50-60% of prospects, because they view our services as a commodity and see no difference between company X and company Y. As a result, if you have the prospect in front of you, it's imperative that they sign before you walk out the door. I used to sell to this market in a previous job. It was a lot of fun, but my focus was on selling more than my co-workers and not on good installs.

    The higher end of the market, where most of us want to be, probably isn't as appropriate for a hard sell. These are the folks to whom you have to:
    1- establish yourself/ your company as an authority
    2- develop a rapport with the prospect
    3- prove to the customer that you're selling them your services to install the landscape THEY want, and you're not just pushing your most profitable line, and
    4- provide them with peace of mind that you will do everything you're promising

    If you're presenting to homeowners who value your level of service, a hard sell probably won't help you. They will, however, appreciate the time you spend with them, and hopefully you provide them with enough materials about your company that as they weigh their options, they keep coming back to you.

    That's not to say that you don't follow up, send a thank you card, or whatever else is part of your marketing plan; but I think ending a presentation for a $100K project with "would you like to write me a check right now or pay by credit card?" alienates most people.

    so, no- Jim, I don't think you're leaving money on the table unless you're targeting low-end jobs.
  6. lawnscapesLLC

    lawnscapesLLC LawnSite Member
    Posts: 113

    I have worked alot in customer service and sales and i'm actually really good at it, although I don't really like it. Most people are "impulse buyers" wheather it be goods or services and can be lead to say yes. I used to sell stupid little products to people and you would be surprised how many people will buy from you if you say something like "so do you want 2 or 4 of these" as opposed to asking if they want it or not. Saying something like "when would you like to install this" or saying you have an opening on a certian date and can schedule them in at that time can actually produce more work. Of course this will not work on really large projects but I have actually had good results on this on smaller projects of under 3k. I know i did not explain it very well but I think you get the overall gist of it.
  7. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    Yah, I could see that being true. I guess for smaller jobs that might work. I could see myself trying something like, "So. We have an opening on the 27th. Would you like to book that date or do you want some time to think about it?"

    I definitely don't feel comfortable doing that with larger purchases. I don't think it's wise for the customer to make a $20,000 decision under pressure. But I could see doing that for smaller jobs though. I'll have to think about that.....
  8. mcwlandscaping

    mcwlandscaping LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,164

    I make it a point when giving the price not to stick around.....i hand them the estimate in an envelope, and say, "ill let you guys look and talk this over, and give me a call if you have any questions or concerns." and that's it.
  9. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,943

    Best book on sales is Bob Cialdini's "the Psychology of Influence." It really explains not just how to sell, but why something is effective. Fun, easy read, too.
  10. tthomass

    tthomass LawnSite Gold Member
    from N. VA
    Posts: 3,497

    "So. We have an opening on the 27th. Would you like to book that date or do you want some time to think about it?"

    You're giving them to option to say no. Once I talk up a job and get them wanting it I don't want them to think about it, call me about it and have me visit their home three more times about it.

    I don't have a 'line' that I use. I meet them, and talk to hear what they want. I put together a sketch and show them plants and make any needed changes. On the third visit I have the final project, hard numbers and I plan to have 50% in my pocket when I leave. I do not push the customer. I review, review, review and review. Why this over that, go over the details so that they are well informed and confident in what they are getting. After that is when I show them the numbers and we discuss, they write the check and blue is on his way to burning another tank of diesel.

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