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As Phil Harwood, Landscape Management columnist and managing partner of Grow the Bench, and Neil Glatt, managing partner and co-founder of Grow the Bench, kicked off their Snowfighters Institute Forum For Sales, they sought to dispel the myth that some people are born for a career in sales and others are, well, destined to write about sales and sales educational sessions.

Instead, Glatt and Harwood revealed what makes a good salesperson to show there are many types of salespeople — each with their own intrinsic motivations and needs.

The two-day event, held at Ventrac’s Bridgeway Training Center in Orrville, Ohio, drew attendees from Kentucky, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Michigan. While the content focused on selling snow contracts, the heart of the presentation applied to all aspects of the landscape industry.

Glatt told attendees good salespeople need — above all other qualities — a strong will to sell.

“The better you understand their motivations, the better you can manage them and the better you can help them achieve their goals,” Glatt said of those in sales management roles.

He said the true key to a salesperson’s success is setting clear, defined goals.

Andrew Knizner, marketing specialist with Ventrac (right) lead Forum for Sales on a tour of the company’s manufacturing facility in Orrville, Ohio. (Photo: LM Staff)

Andrew Knizner, marketing specialist with Ventrac (right) lead Forum for Sales on a tour of the company’s manufacturing facility in Orrville, Ohio. (Photo: LM Staff)

Plan for sales

Harwood said it’s crucial to plan sales more than three years out, ideally three to five years in advance.

“If you’re signing contracts for three years, but only planning three years out, you don’t know where the business is going,” he said.

Sales planning includes which customer segments to grow. Once an operation identifies areas and opportunities for sales growth, salespeople should be involved in determining how to meet this sales goal, Glatt said.

“What, specifically, is your plan to accomplish this goal?” he asks.

For example, a commercial account manager with a goal of hitting $100,000 in a year should break down the steps he or she needs to achieve the goal, Hardwood said.

Harwood said his business had a goal for seasonal snow contracts. Once his team hit that number, “We knew that all our expenses were paid and after we hit that goal, we didn’t want any more seasonal contracts.”

Attendees also got a chance to demo Ventrac tractors, attachments and snow vehicles. Here, Caleb Martin, sales manager with Creation Landscaping and Lawn Care in Lancaster, Pa., takes Ventrac’s SSV, stand-on sidewalk snow vehicle, for a spin. (Photo: LM Staff)

Attendees also got a chance to demo Ventrac tractors, attachments and snow vehicles. Here, Caleb Martin, sales manager with Creation Landscaping and Lawn Care in Lancaster, Pa., takes Ventrac’s SSV, stand-on sidewalk snow vehicle, for a spin. (Photo: LM Staff)

Have a process

“Companies that have a formal sales process grow revenue by 18 percent,” Glatt said citing data from the Harvard Business Review.

Formal sales processes, Glatt said, give you repeatable results. They reveal what’s working — and what’s not. Formal sales processes are also scalable.

Harwood added that owners often struggle to follow those sales processes, but it’s critical the whole team sticks to the plan for consistency.

Attendee Edward Solomon, owner of Solomon’s Landscape & Design in Mauldin, S.C., said having a formal sales process helped his team increase their close rate by 28 percent.

Hit the target

Glatt and Harwood encouraged attendees to run SWOT and PESTLE analyses to identify their markets for growth opportunities. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The PESTLE analysis identifies the political, economic, sociological, technological, legal and environmental factors a business operates within. These analyses help inform a company’s marketing to highlight the operation’s features and benefits and how those align with the markets or key accounts earmarked for growth.

“If goal setting is No. 1 for sales, then target markets is No. 2 in terms of success,” Glatt said.

Once an operation identifies its target market, it’s time to look to sales to build that growth.

“How are we positioning ourselves to be unique?” Harwood asked attendees.

Go for the no

Glatt said he loves the word “no” in sales. It doesn’t waste his time, like a potential client who asks to think it over does.

Cold calling, he added, is a necessary evil in sales.

“You don’t have to like it, you just have to do it,” he said.

Glatt encouraged attendees to tailor messaging and the sales pitch to each client.

“There are sales that are lost because instead of going for a signature, the business went for a presentation,” he said. “When you give a presentation, it has to be contextual – answer their issues. Usually, it’s canned and you have a potential to introduce things that aren’t welcomed.”

Glatt said unwelcomed information could be how long the operation has been in business or if the operation uses service providers.

Harwood and Glatt told attendees that it’s OK — and even encouraged — to ask potential clients about budgets. It can start a conversation about the potential client’s pain points with a current provider and what solutions the operation may provide.

“You can ask if finding a solution is worth an increased investment over existing budget,” Glatt said. “You’re just trying to find the appetite for cost.”

Glatt encouraged attendees to highlight the new technologies or equipment to address pain points.

“I know you have X equipment; I’d love to see how that would work,” Glatt said, encouraging attendees to show off equipment to potential clients that sets them apart.

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Christina Herrick

About the Author:

Christina Herrick is the editor of Landscape Management magazine. Known for her immersive approach to travel from coast to coast in her previous stint as senior editor of American Fruit Grower Magazine, she uses social media (Twitter/Instagram @EditorHerrick) to share her experiences on the road with her audience. Herrick has a degree in journalism from Ohio Northern University. She can be reached at cherrick@northcoastmedia.net.

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