Techniques for increasing sales this spring

April 17, 2013 -  By

By Jeffrey Scott, consultant

1. Profile your Red Light clients.
In the heat of the spring it’s easy to get swept up in the leads that make your phone ring. But how will you service them all with adequate attention? You will be best served if you can create a filter that will remove the unqualified (Red Light) leads from your pipeline. To do this you need a profile of the type of prospect you will NOT try to sell. To create this profile, ask yourself the following questions:

• Who have I bid in the past that I never seem to sell?

What is the bottom 5 percent or 10 percent of current clients that I wish to grow beyond? (You can’t reach the high fruit if you hang onto the rotten apples lying on the ground.)

Is there a client type that I have sold in the past that consistently loses money for me?

Is there a type of client that buys only partial services and ends up being unhappy and thus distracting my time and focus?

Create a profile and screen out these appointments by phone.

2. Reach “conceptual agreement” first

Before you make a proposal, and in order to maximize your chances that your proposal will be accepted, it’s imperative that you reach “conceptual agreement” with your prospect. To do so you need to ask enough questions to get at the root of: 

Why they are buying?
What’s their priority?
Is your solution solving their problems and meeting their needs?

If you write up proposals without first going through these steps, you’re far less likely to close the sale, and you’re more likely to waste your time in useless follow-up appointments. You will work far more efficiently if you can gain “conceptual agreement” first, then write up and present your proposal.

3. Separate emotions from money.

The only thing worse than a prospect who’s price shopping is a salesperson who’s emotionally tied to the price of his or her product. Stop worrying about the price, stop defending the price, stop obsessing about the price, and instead, have quiet confidence in your fee structure. Give your clients options and different price points, and for those who want to spend less, show them an option that meets their budget. 

Don’t negotiate with yourself and don’t lower your margin just to get a client to say yes; instead, ask better questions and make targeted recommendations. 

4. Make small sales on the spot.

Some products simply don’t deserve a follow-up appointment. The cost of going back to your office, working up a proposal and emailing it back to the client costs much more in time and opportunity cost than is often admitted. Give yourself permission to make small estimating mistakes. Add a field estimating contingency of 5 to 10 percent to estimates presented in the field. Jobs of $1,000 to $5,000 and even more can be estimated and sold in the field. Moreover, selling by email is not selling at all. You’re much more likely to uncover and deal with objections if you present the price in person. 

Make it enticing, so the client will say “yes” on the first visit. Throw in a low-price/high-value add-on if they sign on the spot. Or, bring a copy of your schedule and show them how you can put them on the schedule and save their spot if they give you a down payment or sign up now.

5. Don’t be an order taker. 

When clients tell you succinctly what they want, it’s not always in your best interest to simply react to their request for a price. Don’t be an order taker. It puts you in the position of being compared with the next contractor your prospect is interviewing. Change the prospect’s assumptions. Show your value by negating one or two of their assumptions and adding in one or two of your own. If they come to the meeting with a solution, challenge their solution, dig deeper to the underlying needs and present your own solution. Be a leader. Good clients like to follow a leader.
6. How can I help you? What would you like to accomplish in today’s meeting?

This is a good two-part question that can be asked and re-asked over the course of a sales appointment. It allows the prospect to think more deeply about his or her needs.

Jeffrey Scott, MBA, author and consultant, grew his landscape company into a successful $10 million enterprise, and he’s devoted to helping others share the same success. He facilitates PEER GROUPS for landscape business owners who want to transform and profitably grow their business. For more information, go to, email, or call (203)220-8931.  

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