In a recent webinar hosted by Kevin Kehoe, co-founder of Aspire Software Company, the topic of recharging your landscaping company’s sales and marketing efforts was posed.
According to Marty Grunder, president and CEO of Grunder Landscaping Company, landscaping company owners can either look at the current COVID-19 pandemic as a problem or an opportunity when it comes to sales and marketing.
“When an economic downturn or recession hits, there’s a tendency for companies to panic and cut back on their sales and marketing, but sales are to a business what gas is to a car: Without them, you aren’t going anywhere,” says Grunder.
Grunder says it’s much more than just honing your process, technology and workflow, but instead, you truly have to be willing to invest in your sales and marketing, as well as give customers a reason to call you.
Below are four steps Grunder says landscaping company owners can take right now to really ramp up sales and marketing techniques to get them up to par.
Stick with your sales strategy
Grunder says in times of uncertainty, the knee-jerk reaction can be to completely shift gears and start implementing new sales strategies, but he warns that this is not the right course of action to take.
Instead, he recommends sticking with your current sales strategy, but always be willing and ready to recalibrate if/when you need to. For now, Grunder says to focus on your unique value proposition (UVP), which is the unique value you deliver to your clients.
“The ideal client is the intersection of what you enjoy doing, what’s profitable and what’s sustainable,” says Grunder.
Just because you aren’t sure what’s going to happen over the next few months doesn’t mean you have to start grasping at straws in your sales strategy, says Grunder. This is the time to re-evaluate your business mix and see what you need more and less of in your sales market.
To adjust to the current climate, some companies have begun offering sanitation services for local churches and playgrounds, and with more clients actually spending time outside, more are finding value in their properties.
Even though it might be tempting to offer discounts right now to ensure you can keep customers, Grunder recommends avoiding that, as they aren’t sustainable. He also adds that offering discounts conveys that you’ve been overcharging in the past.
“Don’t devalue your own product,” says Grunder. “A better strategy is to know your costs, know how you make money, know what the bare-bones minimum is you want in margin is and sell off that. If you find people are tightening their belts in your market, look to add value to or pare back the scope of contracts in ways that do not diminish your profit margins.”
Prioritize and leverage existing relationships
While the appeal of bringing in new clients is always tantalizing, do not forget to take care of your base by reaching out to current and former clients.
And who knows? These clients are sure to have leads you can follow to drum up new business once you’ve taken care of their needs.
“You make a difference when you make a phone call,” says Grunder. “When your clients are talking to you, they can’t be talking to your competition. When you take time out of your day to ask them if they are okay, to see if they need anything, to thank them for their patience, you’re developing a relationship. People do business with people they know, like and trust.”
Grunder advises always keeping track of where your customers are coming from by asking how they heard of you and why they chose you. Grunder adds that you should never be afraid to ask satisfied customers for referrals and testimonials as well. Grunder says to remember to actually use this data to focus your strategy instead of just collecting it and not utilizing it.
Grunder says to cast a wide net by also looking into your personal and professional networks because the more people you know, the more sales prospects you’ll have.
If you haven’t already, Grunder says this is an excellent time to develop your relationship with your banker, accountant, lawyer or insurance agent, as these relationships prove especially important during uncertain times.
“Bankers are one of the greatest sources of leads, particularly those that sell commercial construction and maintenance because they know of the new companies coming to town since they are involved with the financing,” says Grunder.
Providing unsolicited quotes can also help bring in new customers, and it allows salespeople to visit a property to take photos and send quotes, all while social distancing. Grunder says it’s important that you don’t go over the top and push sales on a potential client, but do make sure you’re offering them solutions to their landscaping issues.
Grunder also encourages salespeople to respond to queries immediately because speed matters. Whether it’s virtually or in person at a distance, be sure to meet with prospects within 48 hours of their initial contact.
“One of my favorite quotes I like to share is, ‘Procrastination is opportunity’s natural assassin…do it now!’” says Grunder. “There is no reason to do tomorrow what you could do today. Go get it done.”
Train, manage and motivate your sales team
According to Grunder, training and education are not expenses, they are investments, so don’t cut back on training just because we’re in a pandemic.
Grunder says to make sure your sales team understands your customer mindset, and take this time to develop new sales scripts to overcome potential objections and practice them through role-playing.
“Do not cut your sales team people right now; they are going to get you out of this,” says Grunder. “Train your team to provide solutions, communicate benefits and not just features and give customers a reason to buy. Don’t sell them the Coke machine. Sell them the Coke.”
What gets measured gets managed, so Grunder recommends setting clear goals and holding weekly meetings with set agendas to ensure those goals are met. It’s vital that your salespeople can walk away from these meetings with clear takeaways and next steps in mind.
The customer decision-making process might take a little longer nowadays but encourage your salespeople to follow up with quality leads, but always avoid what Grunder calls “commission breath.”
Focus on marketing tactics that deliver the best ROI for you
There are some areas of the country that have been significantly affected by the pandemic and others that have yet to be, which means that you’ll need to match your sales message to your market.
Listen to the concerns your customers have, and always address their budget issues and timing concerns. With fewer people being able to take a vacation this summer, it’s possible that customers may have a little extra spending money they would want to put toward improving their landscape.
Grunder says it’s important to also hone your digital strategy, but do not overwhelm your list with marketing emails. Social media advertising can also be a cost-effective way to reach your targeted audiences. When done correctly, Grunder says Facebook, Instagram and Google Ads can drive significant traffic to your website.
When communicating with clients and prospects, don’t talk just to talk. Be sure your communication is effective.
Grunder notes that you’ll also need to keep a close watch on your online reputation, as bad reviews can drive away customers, whether the reviews are true or not.
Finally, Grunder says to make sure you’re still strengthening your reputation within your own community.
“Be who you say you are,” says Grunder. “If you speak of quality on your website, you’d better be taking quality actions.”