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How to drive sales

October 22, 2014 -  By
Photo: ©

Photo: ©

What drives successful commercial landscape sales? First, it’s a sense of the effort required by the reality of the numbers involved to achieve a goal. Specifically, benchmark figures tell us a close rate has an upper limit given the competitive nature of the commercial business. The limit of that close rate is driven by a number of positive touches with a customer. Second, it depends on a plan that accounts for these benchmarks when it comes to building a strategy that revolves around organizing and managing weekly sales activities.

In essence, a 20-percent close rate is driven by 12 touches per prospect. It’s a handy rule of thumb that helps a salesman set personal goals.

Now, pay attention to two important definitions related to the sales goal chart below:

Close rate—dollars sold divided by dollars bid. For example, if I close $200,000 in sales and I bid $1 million, I have a 20-percent close rate. In contract sales, that’s about what you can expect.

Touch—direct contact with the customer with the intent to advance the sales process to a decision. A touch is a phone call, an email, an online presentation or a face-to-face qualification or presentation meeting. These take time and are required to elicit a decision.

Salesmen have less time in face-to-face interactions because of changing technology and customers’ resistance to spending time in sales meetings, which means advancing the sale with each touch requires creativity and persistence. So sending an email asking, “Have you made a decision?” isn’t creative nor does it advance the decision. It’s much better to send an email that states, “I’ve thought about our conversations. Let me suggest as a way to solve your problem …  manage your price concerns …  handle your primary concern for communication … Here’s how we do this …” This is advancement.

Touches advance the start of a sale with an effective qualification process, which might require several touches to establish the intent of the customer. “Are they for real, or is this a just fishing expedition where all they want from me is a number?” Therefore, the qualification process might require a phone call, followed by a site walk and several emails. That’s three to six touches.

The negotiating process also might require multiple touches. Email the bid, follow up with an online presentation, then send several additional emails or make calls to flush out objections or make offers to elicit a decision. That’s four to seven touches.

Somewhere along the line this type of advancement elicits a decision. If you’re effective, “no” is the answer 80 percent of the time and “yes” is the answer 20 percent of the time. So make your touches until you elicit a decision.

I’ve been asked, “Doesn’t 12 touches seem like too many?” My answer is, “Not at all.” Advance until your customer decides—about 12 touches is what it takes, so keep at it, and you’ll reach your 20-percent close rate. Don’t cheat the process.


Sales goal chart

My goal is to sell $500,000 annualized new contract sales.
My close rate is 20% I win one for every four I lose.
My bid requirement is $2,500,000 Sales goal / close rate
My target job size is $30,000 This is a $2,500 per month job.
My qualification rate is 50% I turn this % of my leads into a bid.
I need this many leads/prospects 167 Bids / job size / qualify rate
I need to touch each prospect 12 times to get an answer (yes or no).
I need this many touches 2,000 Prospects * Touches
I have 46 “real” selling weeks to do it.
I need to make this many touches 43 I need a plan for every week.

Kehoe is a consultant with 3PG Consulting. He can be reached at

This article is tagged with , , , and posted in 1014, Business Planner 2015

About the Author:

Kevin Kehoe was the founder of Aspire Software and a longtime landscape industry consultant.

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